Why I LOVE my Thursdays!

I don't really mind when my house isn't clean (sometimes to the irritation of others).
I don't really enjoy dressing up (if theres a zip or a snap, my kids think I'm going out).
And, my grammar is not impeccable either (I'm sure you've noticed this).
So, I'm starting to learn why I am very comfortable, and thoroughly enjoy hanging out at Breakthrough, a Homeless Shelter (and way more) in East Garfield Park, Chicago.  Just seems to fit me better than the North Shore sometimes...

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of leading my first devotional.  I was assigned the topic, "Becoming A Woman of Strength", because that is the name of the series the group is in, and I was pinch-hitting.

My head told me - "That's perfect for you, you've been through a lot and have been able to display this!".
God told me - "You're life has been a cakewalk compared to the lives of those you're about to speak to, so, be prepared to learn a few things, My oh-so-confident child..."

For the next few hours (because conversations continued well past the designated thirty minutes), I heard about rape, eviction, cutting, drugs, prostitution, family abandonment, imprisonment, and the list could go on.

Cakewalk confirmed.

1 Timothy 4:7b - 8 has always been one of my favorite verses and was clearly spelled out for me:

"... train yourself to be godly.  For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." NIV

"Exercise daily in God - no spiritual flabbiness, please!
Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever."  MSG

For the past six months, I was getting to know some of these women through exercise (not a ton, mind you, because exercise is not really a top priority).  But, today, through Scripture, they showed me that "exercising daily in God" holds promise for now AND later.  That "physical health is susceptible to disease and injury, but faith can sustain us through these tragedies"(Life App. Study Bible).
A lot of these women had been saved and strengthened by God.  They knew the power that only God can put into a life that needs desperately to change.  God really DOES "give strength to the weary and increase the power of the weak." (Isaiah 40:29).  They were living proof of this.  And, because they had seen the faithfulness of God, they were hungry for Him - to learn more about Him and His faithfulness.  He doesn't make their muscles sore, He re-juvinates them!  Here they were, in a homeless shelter, recounting the ways God had blessed them!!  And, they just kept talking, they didn't shut up - I loved every minute.  Unlike the Bible Studies I've often been a part of where it's like pulling teeth to get someone to talk, they wanted everyone to know what God had done for them.

Yes, I want them to exercise because I know that they will ultimately feel better and have more energy, but training in godliness "has value for ALL things."  Whether well-fed, or hungry - and HE loves to meet and satisfy those who are hungry for HIM!  The Message translation of Psalm 73:25-28 paints a picture of what I was able to see yesterday:

"You're all I want in heaven!
You're all I want on earth!
When my skin sags and my bones get brittle, God is rock-firm and faithful.
Look!  Those who left you are falling apart!  Deserters, they'll never be heard from again.
But I'm in the very presence of God - oh, how refreshing it is!
I've made Lord God my home.  
God, I'm telling the world what you do!"

Now THAT is a picture of what strength in the Lord looks like!