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One Word: Hope

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“This just doesn’t seem fair. Now our insurance may go up because she decided to lie?”

“Sorry, hun. Now it’s a matter of principle. This time I filed a claim purely for justice sake. I am not paying for the damage she caused. I am not paying for her to lie and get away with it. That is what is not fair. For someone to get away with being dishonest.”

This was the conversation between my husband and I. In our kitchen. The day after Christmas. What were we talking about? An insurance claim that I had to file for a tiny scrape to our vehicle. Because the other party caused the damage. Had more to lose.

And decided to side step the truth.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

I always started off a new year by picking one word that would define it. Well, by allowing God to pick it. Guide me in picking it. However, I did not pick one last year. I tried. I thought for a while it may have been “light,” because for a time I felt His light was being pushed back, drowned out by darkness so others could not see it.

As my journey sent me through one battle after another, I was also sent on many a mission to fight.

And without mine ever even knowing it, I was sent on many a mission to fight for truth.

So it seemed fitting that in the last few days of 2018, I would be standing in my kitchen fighting for it again. Fighting for truth to win, and for dishonesty to fail. For honest folks to be celebrated, and liars to be defeated.

Fighting for truth that continues to remain unspoken for fear of retaliation. Fear that speaking it will mean one is not believed. Thought to be crazy. Irrational. I know all three of those. I know how big that fear can get. I even know what it is like to not be believed. To stand up before a lie and be called crazy. Irrational.

But…I also know something bigger than those fears.

A just and fair Savior.

“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.” Isaiah 43:18-19, MSG

Who can speak truth into the dark places.

Even as I sit here writing these words. Looking outside at a dreary day. One that seems to  set the tone for the end of the year that was filled with many dark, dreary days. Wondering if this year will bring more of the same.

“I am doing something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.” Isaiah 43:19, MSG

Truth in dark places.

Hope in dark places.

Hope that the truth will be brought into light. That more will seek it, speak it. Turn from the lies of the world, and seek the promises found in His Word. A hope that pierces the gloom. The darkest night. Promises to keep shining into those dark places.

Hope that keeps you moving forward, even when you want to give up, because you know and trust God to provide a breakthrough.

Even when you can’t see it in front of you, it is there.

If we don’t have hope that truth wins. That good will prevail. That light will be exposed. That God’s will be done. Then…what’s the point?

Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. -Shawshank Redemption. 

I think Andy was onto something. Hope. It’s a good thing.

On the hardest of days when I’m fighting for truth to win, I still have my hope. It’s the one thing I can count on when truth fails. Hope never does.

 

 

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Posted by on January 3, 2019 in One Word 2014

 

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Your “good” name

A good name is to be chosen over great wealth. Proverbs 22:1

“Oh, you’re January!”

This could be a statement that fills you with a sense of dread. Hmmm…what did they mean by that?

Thankfully this time, the comment was made in the local Starbucks that I frequently visit many mornings. The one that knows me by name and drink. A new barista had greeted me this day. And, since I am usually all smiles and conversations when I come into this place (because, well…I am picking up my liquid courage), I knew I could rest easy.

She had heard about THAT January.

The one with the “good” name.

I am one who believes that reputations should not proceed people. One, you never know when someone speaks about a person whether it’s out of good intentions, or bitterness and ill-will. Two, sometimes even with “good” names, we all have “bad” days.

However, when we represent Christ, our names are not only ours, but His. The world is getting a chance to meet Jesus through our words and actions. Through our name. Do people light up when they hear or say our name? Or do they scowl, and grumble?

I think this passage from Job 29 represents what I want people to think when they hear mine:

“Men and women listened when I spoke, hung expectantly on my every word. After I spoke, they’d be quiet, taking it all in. They welcomed my counsel like spring rain, drinking it all in. When I smiled at them, they could hardly believe it; their faces lit up, their troubles took wing!” Job 29:21-24

When they hear or say my name I want them to think of Jesus. To think of mercy, compassion, and love.

I want them to remember my “good” name.

It’s never too late to make sure someone remembers yours!

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2018 in Like Jesus Does

 

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My mess. Your mess. His power.

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Spring break. A glorious week away from school. From paperwork. Time to sleep in. Enjoy life with the ones I love. And get away from the demands of home.

We meticulously planned each detail of our small trip away. Each day had adventures sure to please the picky fella that would be coming along with us. We were going to have fun! A blast! The kids would love EVERY minute of it. We would have smiling grins to prove it. Beautiful pictures that depicted the fun and excitement of our time away.

But, what about those that were not so picture worthy? What about all those messy moments we didn’t really want people to see?

 We share all the exciting details of our lives. All the things that are going great. All the reasons we are blessed. The fun things. All the delightful details our social media friends long to see.

We make our lives look effortless. We want people to believe we have it all together. We hide our frowns. Our sadness. Our struggles. Because, who wants to see all that? Because, someone, somewhere may have told us that when we profess to others we have Jesus in our life, then life was supposed to be pretty and perfect. That you should stuff all those feelings you have. Hide the mess you are. Put on a beautiful grin and bear it.

Some may even make you believe that going through struggles means that you somehow failed God. Failed to hold onto His promises. To pray enough. That you did something to deserve it. Or, that by sharing your mess you diminish His power. Your testimony is somehow flawed.

Instead, we fail to be real. We hide the mess our lives can really be. We fail to share our pain because others just are not uncomfortable relating to our mess. It’s easier to smile and be happy. It’s easier to respond to happy.

For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and unjust alike. Matthew 5:45

My discomfort. My struggles. My mess. They exist. They have meaning. They have purpose. There is power in the madness. There is glory in this mess. The twist, turns, ups, and downs of what is known as “life,” happen. Sharing them is not something I will apologize for.

This is why.

10 years ago when I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior…well, I certainly wasn’t happy. My life was a mess. I was lost. Sad. Crippled. I had tried everything. My life wasn’t a slew of smiles, but my photos chronicled nothing but “happies.”

I didn’t call to Him with a painted on smile, or an uttered “good,” “fine,” or “great.” I called to Him in the midst of tears and heartache. In the midst of a mess.

Now, 10 years later…I praise him with for those smiles, for those Instagram worthy moments. But, I still find Him there in my tears. When I am on my knees crying for peace. In the midst of chaos, and the mess that life has handed me.

He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.    2 Corinthians 12:9

The chaos. The weary mommy moments. The mess. The hurt. The loneliness. The real emotions that my struggles create. He is there during all of them. Giving me hope. Rest. Wisdom.

The disappointments. The hard times. It’s part of my testimony. My story. It’s the stuff he allowed me to endure in order to let others know that God still exists in these struggles. This mess. That there is purpose in the madness. That there is a God who gets us through them.

All I have to do is look for Him. To rest in Him. Not to have it all together. Not to plaster on some fake smile. Because it is in the worst of my moments that I have found the most strength. A power I cannot claim as my own. The courage to keep pushing. The wisdom to weather all the storms that WILL rage, no matter how many blessings he may bestow.

My mess. Your mess. They do exist. They will continue. But, He is proof that there is joy that comes when all the chaos has passed. Proof that even when no one else can handle it, or wants to hear it, He can handle the mess my life has become.

He can handle yours, too. If we are willing to be comfortable with what makes us uncomfortable. If we can stop painting on happy, and share the madness that we all know we really feel. If we can reach out to acknowledge that the hurt and pain someone feels, is also something we have felt, too.

My mess. Your mess. Embrace it. Together. And, then sit back and watch His power make beauty out of our wild and thirsty ashes. Out of our broken and beautiful mess.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2016 in Broken, Yet Beautiful

 

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Let’s Be Honest…I Walk Through the Desert, Too

Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. Ephesians 4:25

We Have to Walk in the Desert, Too

Transparency. It is something I have come to appreciate. The art of showing emotion, letting others in on what is going on in life. Not hiding behind a smile. Not painting on a happy face. Not denying struggles. Being completely, and totally honest with another.

It’s something I have grown to appreciate. but not something that was ever accepted as practice growing up.

I lived in a home full of “stuffers.” We grew up believing that old saying…you know, about not airing dirty laundry, or what not. You had a problem, you stuffed it. You were having a bad day, you stuffed your emotions and put on a smile. Look like you have it all together at all costs. Don’t let anyone know the real you. The real issues you face.

Well, let’s be honest. I am over that.

And, let’s be even more honest…I admit it. I walk through the desert, too. Just.like.you.

I’m a mess and so are you. We’ve built walls nobody can get through.

Yes, I’m a mess. Just.like.you.

I have bad days, too. “I don’t want to get out of this bed and do a thing” days. “I spilled coffee on my white shirt, was late for work, and left my gas card at home” days. My bad days are probably just like yours, and my responses to them are, too. I vent, I rant, I yell, and (gasp) sometimes I let a curse word fly. But, I also pray. I get up and move on. I rejoice in the hope that tomorrow will be better.

Let’s be honest. I walk through the desert, too. Just.like.you.

I hurt, too. I have pain. I have struggles. There are days I wonder if anyone cares. There are days I feel alone. Broken. Confused. Useless. Just.like.you.

I am a parent. And, my kids…oh, my kids. On any given Sunday morning one may be laying, kicking, and screaming on the sanctuary floor, while the other stands sassing at the door. I struggle as a parent. I wonder if I even get any of it right. Just.like.you.

And, since I have my own kids…well, sometimes I can get easily frustrated with other kids. But, let’s be honest. Anyone who stands in the front of a classroom of 20 kids who have spent 15 minutes punching, yelling, running, and back-talking, and not one ounce of completing the tasks given to them would be a tad bit frustrated, too. And, yes…on those days I want to desperately run to the nearest exit and run away to the closest desert island. Because, on those days, I need a break. Just.like.you.

Let’s be honest. I walk through the desert, too.

I am human. I am a woman. An insecure woman. Sometimes a stubborn woman. I am a parent. I am a wife, and sometimes not a very good one. I get angry, sad, and scared. And, I am just.like.you.

So bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine. ‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides. And mercy’s waiting on the other side. If we’re honest. 

So, let’s be honest with each other. Let’s throw away the masks and be a little transparent. Let’s walk through the desert together.

When I want to come unraveled because autism came out to play on the way to church (and in the middle of the foyer), hug me and tell me I am doing a good job. When your kid is having struggles and acting out, know that I will do the same for you.

When your lonely, insecure, scared, and don’t know what to pray. Be honest. Someone else has been there, too.

When your day has been bad, and it keeps getting worse, paint on a smile if you wish, laugh about it a little, but be honest. Because there is someone else out there having a bad day, too.

We are in this thing called life together. We all have bad days. Bad months. Bad years. And, we all need a little encouragement along the way.

So, let’s just be honest. We all walk through the desert, too.

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Let’s Be Honest

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The king is pleased with words from righteous lips; he loves those who speak honestly. Proverbs 16:13

The boy above…the one with the laughing eyes, cool as a cucumber demeanor, and mile wide grin also happens to be the example of brutal honesty. Honest to a fault at times. Honest enough to even get himself in trouble!

Our 5 and 6 year old share a room. Unfortunately for Hayley, Hunter insists on this. Unfortunately for Mommy and Daddy this means more giggles at night than actual sleep. Giggles are always pleasant to hear. They are far more pleasant than the bickering these two are usually engaged in on a daily basis. Sometimes giggles also get out of hand. Sometimes Mommy and Daddy have to intervene. Sometimes we have to investigate the shenanigans that keep two little kids from much needed slumber.

And to find out what is really going on, we only need to ask one little fellow.

“We’re just making shadow puppets!” Right about the time big sister shouts an emphatic, “Nothing…”

Who does that? What kid really tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Well, this little guy for one. And many more little guys and girls on the autism spectrum. While many of the symptoms and oddities we have to contend with like meltdowns, rigid routines, and obsessive interests can be intolerable, honesty-true honesty-is probably one of the traits we enjoy the most.

One I could also use more of in my own life, conversations, and relationships.

Sure, Hunter’s idea of honesty may be telling someone with all sincerity that their legs look bigger, or their belly looks funny (Trust me. I know this first hand!), and this type of honesty is not exactly what we want to hear or even say to others, but having the tough conversations, confronting someone who may need to hear a few words of wisdom or encouragement is even advocated by Paul:

Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ. Ephesians 4:15

Yet, we pull the wool over our own eyes, tell our friend, co-worker, family members that it is alright to engage in a particular activity, or to feel a certain way. We tell ourselves it is alright to do and feel the same things. We are afraid of the consequences of our being completely honest with each other, with ourselves.

We are too afraid to get in trouble, feel ridiculed, or get our feelings hurt.

Just as Hunter does when he insists his sister is kidding, because they really are playing flashlight tag, we must be honest with God, too. We must come before God and admit we too are sinners. We failed. We lied. We spoke in anger. We slandered a friend. We messed up. We played shadow puppets in the dark.

As David indicates in Psalm 139:23-24, I want God to search me, and know my anxious thoughts. I want Him to point out anything in me that offends, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. I want Him to guide me in the way of honesty.

Lord, Help me to be more like Hunter. Honest and open with you. Please search my heart daily, Lord and reveal anything that does not give you glory. In Jesus name. Amen.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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