Lord, I thank you for your hand of justice and for the priceless gift of eternal life in Christ.

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A Little Think

What's Up With That?

I looked in the mirror--I mean really looked--this morning. Pallid exhaustion stared back. Oh, dear. I had friends over yesterday, after pushing to meet some writing deadlines all day. I served up some goodies. We appreciated the gorgeous Michigan gladiolas and a great view. God took care of that. It was a good visit. But I just now realized that I'd looked like I hadn't known they were coming! What's up with that?

Yep. Time for a makeover. I put aside my to-do list, and I took a shower, applied moisturizer, blow-dried and styled my hair, and applied some makeup. Voilà! The mirror smiled back at me! In 20 minutes, I was a new person. You probably do this routine every day. I sometimes do it every day, but for the last three weeks-NOT! With 17 family members visiting the cottage (interrupted by my four-day trip to keynote the LLL convention in Kentucky), I hadn't looked in a mirror on purpose. I knew what I'd see.

How easy was it to care for myself for a few minutes this morning? I feel more relaxed and at ease in my own clean skin. During our family reunion, I noticed how my sister, vacationing next door, always looked so together and calm while I was either comforting a little one, joining conversations, or putting up jam. Her family came the next week. This morning, after freshening up, I went over to her cottage to say goodbye to her 11 guests. It was then that I noticed pallid exhaustion had moved next door.

Are you with me? Do you let yourself go when maybe you don't need to? I mean, really, are we playing the martyr or what? Maybe we think it doesn't matter. And, of course, on the one hand it doesn't. But let's look at the other hand. Why not take a few minutes to put your best face forward? I'd forgotten the lesson my dear friend Marilyn Pasbrig taught me years ago when her son Kurt had cancer. He fought it victoriously from age 13 to 20, before the Lord changed his address to heaven. When Kurt was in Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis for a bone transplant, Marilyn would get urgent midnight calls. She lived 15 minutes away. First she'd shower, put on her makeup, don a fresh outfit, and off she'd go. Why? She explained: "I want Kurt to see me at my best, to cheer him up. If he sees me looking down and exhausted and beside myself, it would be contagious." While her faith in God's sovereignty sustained her, she wept buckets. Of course, she worried, and she was exhausted. But you wouldn't know it to look at her, even in the middle of the night.

To this day, Marilyn brings the non-anxious presence of Christ wherever she goes. Her faith is an example of how Christians--whether going through an ordeal or comforting one who is--are completely cleansed already (1 John 1:7), on the inside!

You know what it is? We're women. We're called in a unique sense different from men. We nurture, fuss over, and care for the weak. Call it what you want: mother love, smother love, dependence, co-dependence, caring, or sharing. The bottom line is it's about a servant's spirit. We get exhausted in the process. There's nothing wrong with that. I know the serving is what counts, and so does the server. That would be you and me. It's the old drill: "Put your own air mask on first and then take care of your child's." Is it too much of a stretch to ask myself what will it take for me to respect you enough to put my best-looking self forward? If taking a shower and freshening up make me feel better and perk up my attitude, then it's bound to make you feel better too.

An Internet headline today hollered, "See celebrities on their really bad hair days!" Uh, no thanks. I don't need to. I looked in the mirror this morning. I'm a celebrity with my small world of family and friends who see me looking good and looking really bad. I fantasize they love me either way. Come to think of it, there's no reason not to take a minute to take care of myself. Someone always notices. I remember Tiffany (now a PhD psychologist), who was in our Hannah's 3rd-grade class where I substitute taught. She came to the desk quite a bit, I thought, to exchange ideas. Hannah cleared that up when she reported: "Tiffany loves when you teach, mom. She says you always smell good."

All this said, it's not about looking or smelling good to keep up with fashion per se or a certain hot "look." What I'm talking about is above and beyond all that. The look of a servant's spirit is not a Kodak moment! It's about the "draw." It's a "look" that draws people to you. The look of compassion says, "I'll listen. We're in this together." The Bible gives good advice in Isaiah 40:29, which reminds us we aren't serving entirely on our own self-generated power and energy: "God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak." Count on Him. Call on Him! Your servant's spirit will wear you out, and sometimes you won't look in the mirror. But when you do, I hope you see exhausted contentment. It's a good look.

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