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Peace with everyone

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Do all that you can to live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

For years I have tried to determine the best way to read, reflect, and write what God has spoken to me as I sit with Him each day. There has been quite a learning curve along the way. Many a planner bought. Many a planner tossed. Until finally the system that works for me was born.

It involves reading a passage of Scripture, noting the particular verse that speaks to me, and writing down what He says to me.

I also then pencil in a verse of the day.

Sometimes I read the rest of the passage. Most days I don’t.

Until this particular day. Only because it had been the second time in two weeks I had been directed to this very one.

Live at peace with everyone.

Really, God…everyone?

When I picked this particular plan on peace. My hope was that God would reveal that “peace that surpasses all understanding” in some of the areas where I just didn’t have any. Where situations still remained a little chaotic, and there were still some weeds in my garden to tend to…some I wasn’t sure if they were even mine to “weed out.”

I wasn’t expecting this to be his first plea! I definitely wasn’t expecting it to show up again a few short weeks later.

So what does the rest of the passage say? How does God expect us to live in peace with everyone?

Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Romans 12:19-20, MSG

By doing. By loving. By buying my enemy lunch and a drink. Now, do I have to sit with them and eat? Not. Nothing says we have to be the best of friends. However, will there come a time this person needs to be shown compassion? Maybe. Who should they see? A bitter ole hag, still dragging around old baggage? Or a kind and loving Jesus?

Peace comes when we relinquish the need to harbor hate towards those who have plotted evil against us. When we can wish them well from “over there.” When we can move about our day, knowing that God will judge the integrity of those who lie and scheme. We don’t have to. It’s too much for us to bear.

We just have to do good. Even to those who hurt us. Even to those we don’t like.

Even to those who yes (human emotion, here)…we really do hope tumble for all the pain they have caused.

But, He will take care of that. We simply take care of doing good.

Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good. Romans 12:21

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2018 in Loving Others, Mercy

 

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after the decorations are gone

christmas-spirit

The days after Christmas. Memories of the laughter. The time spent with family. The remnants of gifts not yet put away. The lazy days. The leftovers. Naps. Netflix. The promise of a new year.

With this promise each year also comes the burning desire to reclaim the space in my house. Get back into my 10 and a half month routine. Everything in its place again. Time to rid my house of the Christmas glamour for one more year.

Usually this need to reclaim my territory fuels me. Sends me on a cleaning frenzy. But, this year was different. If it wasn’t for our choice of fresh fir, and the limp, dying branches that forced me to take the soon to be fire hazard of a tree down, all our shiny and glistening decorations would have just stayed.

As I packed up every ornament. Every tinsel wreath. Beaded garland. Dancing Santa. I had a thought.

Shouldn’t the spirit of Christmas, and the Christ child born on this day live all year long? Is the Christmas “spirit” really only reserved to one month a year. To a plethora of shiny decorations?

Certainly it couldn’t be! There must be something we can do to make sure that spirit remains here. Lives in this home. Lives in us as we carry out a usual routine for the remainder of these months.

But, how?

Well, it can begin with hope.

This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Hebrews 6:19

After the expectation of those wondrous gifts. After the anticipation of Christmas Eve night. Still lives the hope that His promises will be fulfilled. Living each day knowing, expecting, anticipating  His faithfulness. His strength. The promise that even though some days in the new year may be hard, we KNOW, and EXPECT that there is hope in the days to come. Bringing a promise of glorious days with Him in Heaven.

It can continue with peace.

“I have told you all this that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But, take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

It is not letting the stress, worries, and anxieties of living in this broken and rushed world cause our hearts to be troubled. It’s letting go and feeling relief. It’s choosing calm over the chaos that claims to measure success. It’s being still and rejoicing in Him, even when life gets crazy. It’s living in harmony with each other, even when we don’t agree. It’s accepting our flaws, and those of others unapologetically.

The spirit of the blessed babe can live on past Christmas day with joy.

You will live in joy and peace. The mountain and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Isaiah 55:12

The spirit of Christmas doesn’t live in packages and bows. It’s not the blessings under the tree that give joy after all the decorations are gone. Happiness doesn’t live in those boxes. It lives in the laughter of your kids on a family game night. It lives in the songs of praise raised to Him on Sunday morning. It lives in the full heart as you snuggle with a small child. It lives in the praise that escapes your lips for everything He has done. For the small things. For the blessings He has given that can’t hide under a tree. All He has promised. Made happen in your life. Not just on Christmas Day, but everyday.

And finally, how do we continue to show the spirit of love?

“This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” John 15:12

Despite flaws. Despite differences. Despite who has “wronged” you. It’s being patient with the lady in front of you with too many items in the express lane. The driver that cut you off. The colleague that always comes in late. Talks to much. Does something too much. It’s remembering that once the ball has dropped. The last song has been sung. The clock signals the beginning of a new year, to be kind to each person we meet, not just those in our “circle.” It is responding with kind words, not words to tear down. It’s praying for our enemies, and those who have hurt us. It is forgiving and choosing to show mercy those that make is angry, frustrate us, and make our eyes roll. It’s reaching out our hands to life the fallen, and expecting nothing in return. Loving as He has loved us.

It is extending this love past the month of December.

And choosing to reflect the Christ child. His love. His light. His everlasting spirit.

After the lights have come down. The gifts have all been opened. The decorations are all gone.

All year long.

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2016 in Like Jesus Does, You Make All Things New

 

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Courage when things go bump in the night

Courage

“Don’t be afraid,” he said, “take courage, I am here.” Matthew 14:27

Recently, we moved out of the house we had lived in for nine years. For those years we were comforted and secure inside its walls. We had time to get used to every noise. The environment around us. Every creek. Every dark corner. Every creepy cranny.

Then we made the decision to move. Not an easy one. We had our little monster to consider. The one that doesn’t handle change very well. While we were blessed with a house that was on the same bus route, we worried about this new transition. What would these new surroundings do to our boy’s overwhelming anxiety? Our finely established and well-tuned routine?

For a couple weeks, it seemed we had made it through unscathed. Excitement of having rooms of their own assuaged any doubts. New routines were put in place. All was well.

New home. New noises. New environment around us. New creaks. New dark corners. New creepy crannies. New curly-headed boy fears.

“Mommy, It’s cweepy in here.”

This. The second night in a row. During an already exhausting week? Really? I just want to sleep. And, at first I tried to. Sleep alone that is. I had that “discussion” about needing to be a “big boy.” Needing to handle this one alone. So, I went to bed. Certain that once I put my foot down, he would heed this and try to be a little brave.

Until, I heard it. Soft whimpers. From his room. Whimpers of loneliness. Whimpers of fear.

“Honey, remember what we learned tonight. Jesus gives us courage.”

Yet, the room was still too “cweepy.” And, as I heard the soft footsteps. Saw the tiny shadow along the wall, walking along to Mommy’s room. Heard that tiny voice at the end of my bed once again reveal he was scared. I knew I had to be “it.” I had to be his courage.

Do not neglect to do good, and share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:16

He has been my courage. He, Jesus, has sat with me and comforted me in dark corners and creepy crannies. So, I sacrificed some sleep, and I shared it. I shared some of mine. My courage. To ask Him for help. To let Him lull us both to sleep.

And, as he pressed his warm little back against mine, I knew that for him to have a little peace tonight, I had to give him a little of mine.

For him. For his protection. Because, right now…Mommy is his courage. Until he has the grown the wings to look for and rest on those promises on his own.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2016 in Autism and Faith

 

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There will surely be days like this

No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you through it. 1 Corinthians 10:13, MSG

Bad Moment

Some days really do play out like the pages of your favorite book. The not so happy kinds. So in the style of one my favorite childhood books, here is an ode to one of ours!

Mommy woke me up to early, and then I bumped my head on the side of the bed. I couldn’t get comfortable in my chair, and the shirt I picked out to wear was too tight.

The dog chewed my socks, and I accidentally wore my sisters. Mom made me brush my teeth before I ate breakfast, and now my toast tastes like toothpaste. That too tight shirt was on inside out, and now I can’t find my other shoe.

Ugh! Now look….Mommy, it’s 7:22. We are supposed to leave at 7:20. It’s raining. The umbrella just broke. The bus is late. And we have a sub.

It’s going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Mommy says some days are just like that.

I didn’t get any sleep, and forgot to set the alarm. The dog has been in the trash, and it’s all over the kitchen floor. I have a headache. Stepped in a puddle in perfectly good shoes.

The bus is late. There is a sub. I’m sopping wet, and late for work. Without the lunch I left on the counter. And now there is someone else as I arrive laying in a puddle on the floor.

Daddy has been gone. My little monster is out of his routine. He is hungry. Kicking and screaming in the middle of the floor. And, Mommy? Mommy is crying in the corner. Hoping no one sees.

Today was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Why are some days like that?

They are. There are days it seems everyone has dumped all their crap in your cornflakes. Cornflakes that now may taste like toothpaste.

On those days we may throw shoes. Have them thrown at us. We meltdown. React inappropriately because of all our mixed up emotions. Hurt feelings. Hurt others. Scream. Curse. Punch. Start loading someone else’s cornflakes with our crap. Then maybe the tears just start flowing, and you wonder when you will ever get a break.

Yes, Mommy said some days are just like that.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But, take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Bad days will come. Those days when the struggle begins before our feet even hit the floor. But, we have a choice on these days. We can keep trying to push through on our own to get over all those hurdles, as we knock them all down in the process.

Or, we can stop. Breathe. Look up.

Just breathe, just breathe. Come and rest at my feet. And be, just be. Chaos calls, but all you really need is to just breathe. 

Trust me. I know it is not easy. Being a glass half empty girl, my mind tends to wander to catastrophe mode. And my breathing is usually heavy and racked with sobs. Until I just want to leave those cornflakes on the table, run away, and never come back.

The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans in us for Christ will have you put together and on your feet for good. 1 Peter 5:10, MSG

Yes. His grace. His power. His strength. His peace. They overcome any terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. They will come. Again and again. But, he will restore us. Each and every time. After every tear. Every swear word uttered. Every shoe thrown. He will bring us back to our feet. And give us the strength to conquer the next bad one.

Because some days are just like that He said.

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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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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My first line of defense-Him!

Seeking him

Before I speak a word, let me hear Your voice. And in the midst of pain, let me feel Your joy.

-Lauren Daigle, “First”

You are having one of those moments. Maybe one of those days. Everything has gone wrong. Every possible obstacle and frustration stands directly in your path.

There is that email from a co-worker that lacks grace, and leaves you seething.

Your kids have spilled something, knocked over the plant, and yelled at each other one too many times.

You have been stuck for days inside, and in need of some fresh air, only to find that your only means of escaping cabin fever now won’t start.

That person cut you off in traffic. You are in the express lane behind someone with WAY more than 20 items.

Your neighbor has called the police on your dog…..AGAIN!

You react. You respond to that email in anger. Snap at the kids in frustration. Throw those keys on the ground, and slam the car door. Maybe shout a few expletives at that aggressive driver. Roll your eyes in the checkout line. Call the police and give them a piece of your mind, too.

Kicking. Screaming. Stomping reactions. And, well deserved, right? I mean…look at all that chaos before you?

It’s what I do. When all those emotions snap at once, and leave me a confused mess, I react.

When criticized, I react with defensiveness.

When inconvenienced, I react with frustration.

When attacked, I put up my dukes and get ready to fight. With words. With accusations. With yelling. With impatience. With my human emotions blazing.

Until, it’s over…and I hold my head in shame.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Ephesians 6:13

When I should be waiting, looking, asking for Him to react. When I should be relying on Him to defeat the chaos. Instead my first line of defense is to handle the battle on my own…

My first line of defense against criticism, frustration, inconvenience, and anger should be Him. A prayer. A plea from the one who can handle it.

Stopping to ask for the right words to respond to someone’s verbal attacks.

Stopping to ask for wisdom and guidance in handling the ups and downs of motherhood.

Stopping to ask for peace when crazy sets in.

Stopping to ask for eyes to see beyond my emotions…to see the person behind the wheel, the mom who may be in a hurry in the grocery store, too.

Stopping to ask for grace to forgive that neighbor. That co-worker.

Stopping to seek him in the midst of each hard to handle moment. Each battle. Each encounter.

So that next time my reaction will not cause me to hang my head in shame. So that my reaction will reflect Him. His light. His grace.

I wanna find you, in every season, in every moment. Before I speak a word, I will bring my heart, and seek You first. 

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2016 in Craving More of God

 

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Praise Him Anyway

Praise Him Anyway

I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. Psalm 34: 1

In my daily work, I often find myself moving from one crises to another. It is for this reason that I often have to forget or put aside my own crisis that may have occurred outside the school building. Those that may have occurred before I even left home. So I can help others cope with their own struggles.

However, sometimes these two worlds collide and you are dealt two crises in your hand of cards. Two that you must strategically play at the same time.

The phone rings in the middle of someone’s meltdown, and you find your own child or loved one is now in the middle of theirs. What do you do? How do you respond?

This actually occurred recently to my co-worker. And, as I watched her calmly sit down the receiver of the phone, slowly take a deep breath, and refocus on the task at hand, I wondered how she mustered the energy to deal with both.

Her answer? “I was just glad I was in the middle of this crisis, because I really just wanted to lay down and cry.”

Which left me wondering…Do I respond in this way? Do I look for what is good and positive in a given situation? Or do I scream, cry, and run for the hills?

These types of days are not uncommon. On most of them, as soon as I hit the ground running, I am then headed to another problem. As I sit down for lunch there may be something or someone I need to calm down or fix. In the midst of it all, I have my own problems in my life, my home, with my children.

It’s enough to make you come undone. To completely unravel. Just like everything and everyone around you. To lay on the floor and cry. To pick up that phone and throw it. To tell anyone who will listen just how crappy your day, your year, your life is.

And some days…I do unravel. I lay on the floor and cry. I throw things. I have a pity party.

But, then somewhere in the unraveling. In the midst of all those mixed up emotions. In the coming undone. Behind those tears is the strength needed to help someone else doing the same. The patience needed to calm down your own children. The perseverance to take a breath and move on.

Or the choice to look at all the great things in my life. All the blessings in this chaos that lies before me.

But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. Psalm 59:16

Or we choose to praise Him. Like David. Who had a few troubles and unravellings of his own.

Remaining positive in the midst of our struggles doesn’t mean our problems don’t exist. It only means we are choosing not to let them define our moods. Not to let it separate us from His grace. From His strength.

From His blessings.

Like the morning cuddles from the child who spends the afternoon in tantrums.

Like the random compliment on a day when you have heard nothing but criticism.

Like the things you have been able to provide when the bills keep coming, and the money keeps going.

Like the new day that has dawned after a night spent depleted, discouraged, and lonely. A reminder that you are alive. A promise to start over.

Or the strength that comes from Him to slow down, take a breath, face the crisis in front of you, keep moving forward, and praise him anyway.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2016 in How Is Your Faith

 

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