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Category Archives: Grace

As much as it takes…

“They just don’t listen. Seriously. I am trying, but they just don’t want to hear it.”

I don’t know how many times over the years I have said this. Been discouraged that messages of love and kindness are rejected. Disillusioned by watching those I’ve tried to guide make unwise choice after unwise choice. Been treated poorly in the process.

Even as I sit here writing this, we are just home from church, and I’ve endured a litany of ungratefulness, disrespect, and sass from two that just left the place in which they are supposed to be learning to be His “light.”

I sit here reflecting on the many times I’ve been yelled at for simply discussing alternate choices, and the consequences of not making them.

The times kindness has been rejected.

The times wisdom has been scoffed at.

The times when love has not felt like enough.

I wonder in those times what I am doing wrong? Why they don’t hear the message? Why I continue to suffer for doing good?

“The Son of Man must suffer terribly and be rejected by this generation.” Luke 17:25

That generation rejected wisdom, guidance, and love.

And so does this one.

Because not much has changed over the years. No one wants a Savior, because our false belief has us convinced we can save ourselves.

Just like the Pharisees that wanted Jesus killed, because they rejected His teaching, we all want to believe our way is best. That we have it all figured out.

We don’t desire truth, because we look to media and other worldly things to define it.

Yet as Jesus lay dying, rejected, suffering on a cross-He was still able to utter these words: “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

And if He could-the One who suffered, who was despised much more than I…

So can I.

So I can pray that I can keep loving.

Even when it’s hard. Even when I am exhausted. When it’s rejected. Taken advantage of, or simply not good enough. Even through suffering.

I can pray that as I ask God, How much do I allow? How many times do I have to forgive? How long do I suffer?

He will tell me this: As much as it takes. As many times as it takes. As long as it takes. Until they see love and kindness in you, and finally know Me.

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2019 in Grace

 

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What you wished you’d said….

Ugh! Go away! Get out of here! You are so annoying.

A day in the life of sibling rivalry. And it seems to happen a lot here while both deal with the changes that come with growing up.

“You go back in there. She is going to fix how she just spoke to you.” It’s what I ask each to do when they repeat things that are often hurtful.

But children are not the only ones who can hurt. Adults often do, too.

And what is it about us that has this tendency to get into a battle of words? Misspoken words.

Anger. Frustration. We feel ignored. Not taken seriously. Our emotions take over and eventually the spirit we asked to come guide us through our words. To help us choose them wisely, often don’t come out the way He intended.

They come out because we feel a need to fight back. And they come out all wrong.

They sometimes hurt.

So, like I tell my kids. How do we go back and fix it?

Sometimes, it takes simply being honest. Being sincere and saying the words you wished you had said instead. The ones He directed you to say.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

Maybe what was said wasn’t of benefit in the moment. Maybe what was meant to come out was something so different.

Something like this:

I pray for you everyday. All day long, actually. I pray that you will be kind and loving. I pray that I can model these characteristics for you. I pray that you will be you and not everyone else. I pray that you have everything you need. I’m sorry. I love you.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2019 in Grace

 

Better than yesterday

Yesterday.

Yesterday was tough.

Yesterday you lost your temper. Yesterday you failed as a mom. Yelled at your kids. Snapped at your husband. A co-worker. A friend.

Yesterday you slipped. You fell back into old habits. Looking for anything to take away the pain, grief, sadness, loneliness you feel.

Yesterday you didn’t meet all the goals you set out to meet.

Yesterday you were a little less loving. A little more angry. Said things you didn’t mean, and wish you could take back.

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23

Yesterday is over. Today provides new mercies. Today is a new day.

Today you are better than yesterday.

Today God has given you a new morning to start all over.

Today you will use your strategies to avoid losing your temper. Let go of little things, and focus on the good stuff.

Today you will be a bit more patient with your kids. Whisper, gently when they mess up. Take time to just hang out with them.

Today you will think before your speak. Thank your husband for all he does. Show appreciation to others as well.

Today you will intentionally work on that goal. Make steps to stay motivated.

Today you will show love and kindness to those in your presence. Talk it out instead of getting angry.

Today is a new day.

And if for some reason, you still fall today. Tomorrow will be new, too.

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2019 in Grace

 

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Well done….

 

“Well, what do I get if I do that?”

An all too common question. What is in it for me for serving, for being kind, for meeting an expectation?

People are often surprised that I do not demand that my kids do more chores. Earn their keep around the house. Perform duties in order to be rewarded for all the “good” things they have done.

It’s true. I don’t.

I have tried every chore system known to man (or rather, woman). Every velcro stripping, popsicle pulling, washi tape plastering, dry erase board posting, laundry clip moving chore chart on Pinterest. None has lasted. The only thing successful among any of these charts has been the endless arguments over who gets to do what chore, and earn what silly reward.

So, we keep it simple. We teach them how to respect each other and the adults in the home. That in our home (and beyond), we are spoken to with words of love, and no one leaves a room when asked to stay, without completing a discussion on an issue. We praise the daughter who decided to check the mail without having to be asked. Or the boy who fed the dog, just because he wanted to help. We deposit these moments into our memory banks so that the next time that girl wants an impromptu play date, we can remind her of her frequent mail drops and quickly say “yes.” Or that boy runs out of ice cream, and we remind him of the time he did not let the dog go hungry, and we can quickly hop into the vehicle for a quick trip for fro-yo.

But there are also times we remind them that in life we are not rewarded for doing good. We won’t always be praised. Sometimes we will be unappreciated or overlooked. However, we do our little bit of good anyway. We keep giving to others anyway. Even if you don’t get in return. Even if people don’t do anything to earn it. Even if people aren’t even very good.

Why?

Grace. Undeserved favor. We don’t deserve it. We have no reason to expect it. Yet it is freely given.

Just as God gave us.

For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan. 2 Timothy 1:9

We didn’t earn it. We don’t deserve it. He gave it anyway. He loves us anyway. Even if the world may not notice our good efforts. Even if we may be overlooked, and it may take a lifetime. Grace was our reward. And, one day, all of those small efforts we make will be acknowledged when He looks at us and says “Well done. Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Now, that’s one fine reward. Don’t ya think?

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2019 in Grace

 

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The One who stays…

Give up. Left. Let go. Abandoned.

These are the things that may swim around in our hearts and heads when we choose to relinquish control of a situation. When we choose to let our children, despite our prudent advice, follow their own path. When we choose to untie the strings that bind us to a past of hurt, and even the people who were part of it. When we choose to speak the truth in love to others we care for, instead of always “making nice” about how we feel about their choices or the way we are treated.

When we choose to simply take a step back and stop doing all the human intervening and fixing, our human hearts start to believe we have been left, or that we are failing others.

Here’s the truth:

The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t-not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again. James 5:16-18,MSG

This means, I only let go of the string. I drop all of what I was trying to control, even the parts of that person I wanted to fix and manipulate, at the cross. I leave it up to the One who can truly change lives. My job is to ask God to fix it.

We never leave. We never abandon ship. We never give up. We always hope. We always love. For those of us who have God in our corner we are praying tear-stained prayers for that prodigal son or daughter. We are screaming at God in our cars on the way home asking Him to help us help you. We are desperately asking Him for miracles. Praying for the sky to open up, and for God to rain down His blessings on you.

We just may not be present to watch someone continuously make poor choices. To keep swooping in to save the day. We are desperately praying and waiting for the day that God will do that.

Because we know He is a God that never leaves. Never abandons. Always hopes. Always loves. Will make things new. And will bring healing to the broken. We can’t do that without Him.

So the ones who stay, rely on Him to do what only He can do. We pray. We ask for Him to work in the lives of those we love. And we stop doing all the work, so He can work.

But we never leave.

We are the ones who stay.

Asking for help from the One who stays.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2019 in Grace, Mercy

 

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Only One can “fix” them…and it’s not me

“Well, we can’t wait for you to work your magic on this one!”

And, yes. Sure. I couldn’t wait either. But, magic? Was the idea that I had magic dust in my pockets to make people do what needed to be done, destined to deem me a failure?

What was the “magic?”

The “magic” was the thought, and a common misconception that counselors, or anyone else in a helping profession, including doctors, pastors…are known to “fix” people. That it is their sole responsibility to fix what is broken.

See, that comment about “magic” made by a colleague at that particular time, though surely meant as a compliment, placed undue pressure and responsibility for me to do all the “fixing.”

I need to fix this kid. I need to ensure he/she makes good choices. Makes progress. Is changed.

I absolutely have to guide them from taking the wrong path. I have to make them listen. Behave. Never err from where I am pointing. Tame the impulse to act or speak without thinking.

I put a huge amount of pressure on myself to work my “magic.”

To “fix” what was deemed broken. Wave that magic dust in my pocket, and have everything and everyone fall neatly into place.

And, I can’t handle that pressure. I am bound to fail. Miserably. Magic dust and all.

He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

He holds the “magic.” He holds the answers. He protects. He takes on that responsibility. And, while I like to think I hold all the magic to make change happen. To know that they will always make the right choice. I just don’t.

I do have something that is pretty magical. I have the reassurance that God will restore and repair what needs to be fixed. My job isn’t to do it on my own. It’s certainly not to take all the credit. To manipulate someone to listen to make myself look good or “magical,” and make anyone here honor me and my supposed success (or failure).

My job is to offer prayers for each child’s “fixing.” To ask Him to provide me the words that will touch a tender heart. Ask Him to show me how to come along someone who needs a little “magic” to help them handle tough stuff. I don’t get the credit. I ask for the Father to work His magic, and I watch and praise Him while He does His work!

So next time you find yourself trying to fix everything or everyone that is broken.

Next time you feel the pressure to be the perfect parent, raising perfect kids, who make perfect choices, only to realize you are failing.

Next time you find yourself trying to figure out why that individual got burned on a hot stove again. Why those kids just won’t listen. Behave. Do what is expected.

Next time you expect someone to wave a magic wand, remember the one who truly fixes. And pray that folks will come to seek Him for their “fixing.” Call on Him to restore the broken, because he is the only one who can “fix.”

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2018 in Grace, You Make All Things New

 

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Take me as I am

Those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. John 6:37

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When I was a teen, I hated country music. I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s. It was not the era of Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, and Keith Urban. Instead their was Joe Diffie, Dwight Yoakam, and Wynonna. And the songs were really all about what country music jokes were made of.

However, when my parents moved closer to my grandparents, and my brother and I spent many a summer afternoon walking to their house, the twang of the songs grew on me.

And I grew to love the no nonsense words of Miss Shania.

She taught me that any man of mine had to be proud of me. That certain things should not impress me much. I could color my hair. Do what I dare. And after a long day I needed someone to rub my feet, and give me something to eat.

Then there was ole Faith…who taught me this: All I really need is honesty, From someone with a strong heart, and gentle hand. To take me as I am. 

So, I had a standard.

However, as faulty humans. We don’t always live up to that, do we?

We expect a little too much from each other.

We expect that prior to any relationship we need to have all our junk together first. We rarely take anyone just as they are. Or, we take them. Then try to mold them into what we want them to be.

This is exactly how Charlotte Elliot came to know Christ. Who is she, you ask? She is the writer of the hymn “Just As I Am.”

Bound by depression in her 30’s, her minister paid her a visit and spoke to her about God. She dismissed him. Dead set on needing to “have her junk together” before she could accept this God in her life.

Her mentor and minister’s words: “Come just as you are,” were just the words she needed. She became a Christ follower that day.

It was 14 years later when she would write “Just As I Am.”

These words from that hymn are enough to make me thankful that He accepts me in all my messiness, in all my chaos, with all my junk.

“Just as I am, tho’ tossed about, With many a conflict, Many a doubt, Fightings within, and fears without, O lamb of God I come! I come!”

There are days I am crippled by worry and anxiety. If I didn’t have a God who accepted me in my tangled doubts and fears, I would not make it through.

I am thankful He sees past my twisted thoughts to the person I am outside my head. That He sees past my wretched faults, and accepts me just as I am.

He is and always will be someone with a strong heart, a gentle hand, to take me as I am.

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2018 in Broken, Yet Beautiful, Grace

 

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