"Ardent, often selfless affection and dedication, as to a person or principle."  (online dictionary) Every time I start to write this post, I keep going back in my head to a song that Olivia Newton John sang in the movie, Grease...."Hopelessly Devoted To You."  Olivia is singing  about a lady whose life has been turned upside-down by someone that she has loved with all of her heart.  She is hopelessly devoted to him even though this man...the love of her life is not giving her the time of day.  She has decided that she's willing to sit around and wait for him, because for some reason she feels as though she has no choice because of the love and devotion she has for this man.

Imagine having that type of devotion for God.  A song written about total devotion to God would be different though.  This type of love and devotion for God brings hope to your life.  It would need to be titled "Full of Hope and Devoted to You"  When you place your faith and devotion in The Father, the Keeper of your Heart...you have a life full of hope.  There is no sitting around wondering if He loves you...He proved that love when He gave His life for you.  Our devotion comes from a deep faith and trust in God's love.

Watch where your devotions are spent.  Spend them wisely!

I love that all things work together for the good to them that Love God and are called according to His purpose.  The reason I love that so much is because I genuinely love God and seek out His purpose in my life everyday.  God's purpose is all that really matters.  Rick Warren the renown author of  "The Purpose Driven Life" says it best ...“You were made by God and for God and until you understand that, life will never make sense.” 

Trying to find your purpose in life outside of God can possibly lead you to listen too much to the opinion of others.  Trying to live up to other people's expectations can lead to heartache and disappointment.  On the opposite end of that is living your life in the light of what God expects.  His ways are higher than our ways and He wants good things for us.

Take your focus off of yourself and focus on the love that God has shown and allow Him to lead you.  You may have made massive mistakes in your life, but that doesn't mean that you cannot pick up the pieces and still find purpose.  Another quote by Rick Warren... “we are product of our past but we don't have to be prisoners of it.”  Thank the Lord God's love covers a multitude of sins.  So often mistakes have a way of making us feel like we are failures.  It is during those times that we need to draw our attention back to the love that forgives and forgets...the love that was there before the creation of the world.  There is no greater Love!

The character of purpose is being in the center of God's will and understanding that no matter what the circumstances of your life...if you love God, good can come out of all situations.

Big egos have little ears ~ Robert Schuller

I do believe people who think they are all that and a bag of chips seldom take the time to listen to other people.  Listening is taking your focus off of yourself and what you have to say and listening to the wisdom of others.

The Bible tells us in the book of James... "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry" (James 1:19) 

Well there you have it...we need to be listening way more than we are talking.  How good are you at doing that?  It may be a skill that you have to consciously learn.  Sometimes it is just so easy to forget that the person that you are currently having a conversation with, may want to get a word in from time to time.  Think about that the next time you are in a one-sided conversation...you might just learn something from the other person in the room.

Below are some quotes that I think are great concerning the character of listening...
I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. ~ Ernest Hemingway

_Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery. ~ Joyce Brothers

Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you'd have preferred to talk.~ Doug Larson

I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening. ~Larry King

Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens. ~Jimi Hendrix

A Virtuous Woman...priced far above rubies!  That is awesome...being priced far above rubies!  The only catch is...you must have the character of virtue in your life.  I am going to give you some helpful information that will be geared towards women...but men need the character of virtue and can follow this as well.

In order to have virtue...Faith must be first and foremost in your life.   Your guide in your daily activities should be from leadership that comes from Him resulting in service from your heart, mind, body and soul.  Your Marriage has a mutual respect with trust and desire for good things for your mate.  You are a good Mother who teaches her children about Jesus as she nurtures and disciples them early.  This early training will stick with them throughout their lives.  Your Health is important and the health of your family.  You are seen as someone who is willing to Serve, making sure that your family, friends and neighbors are not in need.  You serve with a spirit of gentleness.  Being a wise shopper is important to you.  Being Frugal and aware of where your dollars are going will make the Financial situation of the family healthy.  Whether you are a stay at home mom or you work out in the business world, being Industrious is important to you.  You don't complain, but do what needs to be done willingly and with love.  You make your house a Home by filling it with love and making it an inviting place for your husband and your children as well as others that visit.  Hospitality is an important word in your life.  You realize that there are just so many hours in your day so you have to use your Time in your life wisely, accomplishing the things that mean the most to you and your family.  And the final thing is being a Beautiful woman from the inside out.  That inner beauty comes from having a relationship with your Creator.  Use that sense of style and create beauty in your life and within your home.

I want to confess that I fall short in some of these areas.  But as woman that is seeking to be a virtuous woman, I vow to always keep my faith in the forefront so that I can improve on all the other areas that are lacking.

Hmmm...I guess I never really thought about being on time as a part of having character in my life.  But let's think about that for a moment...When you make an appointment with someone and "promise" that you will see them tomorrow at 3pm and you show up at 3:30pm...what exactly is that saying about you?  It is possibly saying that this meeting is not as important to you as it is to them and their time is of no value to you.  They have cleared their calendar to be with you and share a meal or just some time with you.  Let's look at it in reverse...your appointment is at 3pm and you show up at least 10-15 minutes early.  That first of all says that you are a man or woman of your word....does that show character?  Yes, indeed it does! 

Having character in your life encompasses many aspects.  Remember that the next time you show up late for church or work or just time with friends.  Show everyone that you come in contact with that you are a person of character by valuing their time.

God is a God that is always on time and we should strife to be more like him everyday of our lives. (by the way...I'm pointing my finger right back at me...I have not been the best when it comes to being punctual.)

When Jesus was crucified, it was necessary for his burial to take place very quickly.  The Sabbath was approaching and it was required that no work take place on that day.  So the scripture relates to us that he was placed in a borrowed tomb, one that had been prepared for Joseph of Arimathea.  The Jews were aware of the claim that Jesus would be resurrected from the tomb, therefore a heavy stone was rolled in front of the entrance of the tomb and guards were put in place to keep an eye on the tomb of Jesus.

Here is how the story unfolds in Matthew...
"After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb. Suddenly there was a violent earthquake, because an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and approached the tomb. He rolled back the stone and was sitting on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his robe was as white as snow.  The guards were so shaken from fear of him that they became like dead men.  But the angel told the women, “Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here! For He has been resurrected, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay.  Then go quickly and tell His disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead. In fact, He is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see Him there.’ Listen, I have told you.”  So, departing quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, they ran to tell His disciples the news.  Just then[a] Jesus met them and said, “Good morning!” They came up, took hold of His feet, and worshiped Him.  Then Jesus told them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see Me there.” 

I can't even imagine how those women felt on that day.  On that Friday they had seen their Lord crucified and were full of sorrow.  They knew the rest of the story, yet they were so full of sadness for the loss of the One they had followed.  When they arrived at that tomb on that first Easter Sunday they still were shocked to find it empty and when the angel said those words..."just as He said"...I'm sure there was a flood of emotions that came over them.  Tears of joy and excitement to tell others what they had seen.  Then to top it off they actually met up with Jesus on their way to tell the disciples.  Oh my goodness...as they fell at His feet to worship Him...I would imagine that their hearts were beating 90 miles a minute. 

If we could just grasp the excitement of those women on that day and have that same joy in our hearts everyday....what a difference our outlook on our lives would be.  God bless each of you on this blessed and joyful Easter morning. 

"Boldness enables us to speak the truth, and perform a task without fear of the consequences or results, because, it is the right, and Biblical thing to do."  We need to remember that we have the power to be bold - God is within us, beside us and will take care of us.  Boldness is not rudeness or crassness - everything we do should always be tempered with love and kindness.  You can't excuse those type of things with..."Oh I was being bold...telling it like it is!"  We must never forget the fruits of the spirit and how those are incorporated in all we do.

We have boldness because of who Christ is and our relationship with Him.  When we think that we can't...we realize God can!  We know that when Godly boldness shows up...all things are possible.

You can accomplish more than you ever dreamed you could when you apply Godly boldness to your life!  Boldness is the Yes that is found in Maybe, the Power that is found in Possible and the Strength that is found in the midst of fear.  Be Bold in your life and watch the fear crumble and the doors open.

There is a lot out there written about the "topic" of Servant Leadership.  There are books and blog posts about the pros and cons of this subject.  I read a few of them and decided to just leave those things lay and go to the source of where servant leadership was first presented to me...The Bible!

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:45 (NIV)  That pretty much says it all right there.  Our best example of what it means to be a servant leader is found in the life of Christ (the Son of Man).  He was in a position as He went about teaching and performing miracles to just soak up all the praise and never take time to serve.  The thing is...He didn't do that.  He came to serve...which He demonstrated when He washed the feet of His disciples.  The Creator of Heaven and Earth did a job that was considered the lowest job in that day...washing other people's feet.  Imagine the shock in observing this taking place.   I'm sure there were those in His company that tried to dissuade Him from doing something like this.  

I tried to think of something somewhat similar to this here at the office.   The best I can come up with is someone coming into the office and telling us that the toilets are overflowing in the ladies restrooms (which we share with everyone else on this floor) and hear our General Manager say...I'll take care of it!  Without any complaining, he just takes care of the problem and offers to check all the other bathrooms.  We would all be shocked and would be saying that's not your job...let us get the custodian of the building.  He would assure us that he WANTED to do this. 

Jesus showed us by that simple act of washing the feet of His disciples how important it is to not always be the recipient of praise and benefits, but to step out and be someone that serves others in word and deed!

Good Ole Southern Hospitality!  You've heard about that all your life, but it doesn't just apply for southerners.  Having the character of hospitality is something everyone should have in their lives.

Just what does it mean?  It means a lot of things...you can't just describe it in one word or you wouldn't do it justice.  Some things that comes to mind when thinking about hospitality, is having people over to your home; being a good neighbor; respecting other people's property; helping someone in need; treating others with respect; being friendly and offering a hand...the list could go on and on. 

A lot of us spend the majority of our waking hours either getting ready for work, traveling to and from work or on the job.  How can the character of hospitality come in to play there?  Momma always told me to have good manners and to be courteous to others and that didn't just mean at church.  At work, I try to apply all the things that the word hospitality encompasses.  Showing respect for my bosses and respect for those that I train and work alongside everyday is a must to have a happy workplace.  What if you show respect and get nothing in return?  That is okay...because having the character of hospitality really means that you help others and are kind to others because it is the right thing to do - not because you are expecting everyone to be nice back.  (it helps LOL, but not necessary) 

Being optimistic when everyone else is being negative, can be a challenge, but being the responsible one by showing kindness and self control can make a big difference for everyone around.  If you just join in the negativity, you are adding the the problem instead of helping.

I for one want to be known as someone that loves others enough to show some of that "southern hospitality" toward them by being polite and kind and understanding.