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One simple word of gratitude

“Just wanted to let you know I am grateful for you and all you do for us! I love you!”

This was the text I sent after being challenged at the beginning of a company wide meeting to send a message to someone to let them know we were grateful for them.

It wasn’t hard to figure out to whom to send the text. And even though it wasn’t hard, I knew in my heart I would receive the following response: “Everything OK?”

It was an indication that while I profess to be kind and loving, I may not necessarily show gratitude as much as I should. Because this response was a humbling sign that sending messages of this nature may actually be out of my character.

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 1 Thessalonians 1:2

Always. Never ceasing. To thank God for those who I have been blessed to have in my life.

I admit. I don’t always do this.

However, the Word tells us over and over to give praise. To offer Him thanksgiving for all He has done, but it seems easier to complain. To point out the things people have not done. To have a pity party when we don’t feel appreciated. Instead of setting a precedent and offering thanks and encouragement.

God desires thanksgiving in all things. In all circumstances. Instead, many times when we call on Him, we are spouting off a list of requests, and things we need. We don’t begin most of the time with a simple “Thanks!”

Thanks for our blessings. For all we have been given. Thanks for being present during the hard stuff, and the good stuff, too. Thanks for pouring out love, and when needed-guidance, direction, and protection.

Do we do this to people as well? Provide a list of wants, needs, and demands? Expecting they will always assist? Always help? Always come through? Without any appreciation for what they have done?

The response to my text was quite humbling, and it was a reminder that I have much work to do to continue to spread kindness and love in all the places I may be.

So, who needs your message of thanks today? Who needs to hear how grateful you are for all you have done for them? Who in your life needs to feel appreciated and feel your love? Stop right now. Send a message. And simply say “thanks!”

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2019 in Loving Others

 

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Dear Weary Mama…

 

Dear Weary Mama,

I know the kind of day you have had. Today was one of those “nice” days. One of those days when the chill of winter was finally gone from the air. There was not a cloud in the sky. The sun was shining, and the temperature just right. After a season of long, wet, cold nights, you want nothing better than to enjoy all this day has to offer.

I know what you do next. You seize the day. Plan an outing for your kids. A long nature walk. A trip to the park. Maybe a stroll through the neighborhood, and a pit stop at the local pond. You and your family need to slow down a bit. Enjoy this day. You think of how great this day will be.

Until it isn’t, Mama. Until it causes your kids to moan and groan. Complain about a walk being too long. The park too boring, and the beach spot by the pond…just too sandy!

And you, dear Mama. You become a little emotional.

So you lose it. Because all your best laid plans failed. You feel useless. Unappreciated. Disrespected. You know you need a walk, and some fresh air; but who is going to go with you? Who is making sure you are OK?

So you lose it.

And after…you instantly feel guilty. I know you feel like you failed, because maybe in your disappointment you yelled. You feel alone, dear Mama, because you worry that you are the only one who ever feels this way. That you must be the only one whose kids don’t see beyond their own needs, desires, and likes.

As a mother comforts her child, so I’ll comfort you. Isaiah 66:13

I know you feel like no one sees you. Notices the 30 times this week you have emptied and reloaded the dishwasher. Driven to pick a friend up. Made a donut trip. Picked up another stray wrapper or sock. Mopped slime and glitter from the floor. Cooked a meal no one wanted to eat, and then cleaned it up, too.

Maybe you were silent, but you really wanted to scream. Maybe you did scream, Mama. Yelled a time, or two, or three.

I bet you feel unnoticed. Unappreciated. Used. Like you will never measure up to that Proverbs 31 woman. The one whose children rise up and call her blessed.

Dear weary one-you are blessed. God sees you.

He has given you this holy calling. This all important, and yes…all encompassing task of raising tiny humans.

Who think they know better. Who at times you don’t really like. Who at other times you wonder whose family tree they sprouted from, because they don’t resemble you in spirit at all.

God sees you, Mama.

He sees you. He loves you. He calls you blessed.

He sees you in your times of happy, and your times of despair. He sees you when you feel like a parenting success, and even when you are a parenting fail.

Dear weary Mama…He sees you.

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2019 in On Parenting

 

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Fear not

I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

“I’m not sending the kids up, since you are asleep.”

This is what my husband had declared to me as he got the kids off to school. Part of the morning routine he has handled for several years.

This morning I was not getting up and getting ready to head to my own school. An on-line threat kept area schools closed. I was home for the day.

Now, letting me sleep in was a kind gesture. But I was up. I wasn’t going back to sleep, and as I lay there I had this thought for the very first time: “No. I have to get up and hug them, and tell them I love them. What if they don’t come home?”

For the first time, I feared that. That I would be at home. My kids would be at school. And I would not be able to reach them, keep them safe, or even get them home. And, my kids are Caucasian. Not even the intended “target.”

Fear.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

Terror. Fear. Being scared. Anxious. These things come from the enemy. Constant worry and panic is an attack from the devil to keep our eyes away from the one who can conquer evil. It’s Satan’s tactic to keep us crippled so we can’t act. So we can’t move our hands and feet to show up where love needs to be seen. To show it. To give it.

You know what else comes from Satan? Let’s be honest: Hate. The kind that thinks it’s OK to instill fear in a group of people, simply because they don’t look, think, see things the same way we do.

Let’s call it what it is: Evil. Sin.

Nothing of this kind of act is born of love.

I can sit here in fear. Fear for my children. Fear for those that aren’t mine that I love and care for deeply.

Or I can do something to make sure that fear and terror, caused by the enemy does not take residence in my heart.

I choose to love and teach my kids to love all the same. If it makes us a target. So be it.

I choose to teach my children that hate language of any kind is not accepted. Not in our house. Not at school. Not in their community.

I choose to teach my kids to stand up and speak out against those who use unkindness and hate speech to intimidate and create fear in others. To call out the bully. The mean people. Let them know it’s not OK. It’s not just the “way they are.” Because we are called to be better.

I choose to teach my kids to love the outcast. To eat with the lonely. To love the unloveable. To break bread with everyone, even those that are far different. Because that’s how we learn from each other. That’s how we grow. That’s how we ensure that people are not feared.

I may be just one little white woman. I may not be able to change an entire world with my love. Or my kindness.

But I can be a living example for my white children. So they know hatred and bigotry of any kind is not accepted. That we will not fear the message of love that comes from Christ. That we will love, honor, respect, and walk with people from all walks of life.

Even if we don’t look like them.

Even if we don’t talk like them.

Even if we don’t believe like them.

We will not fear love.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2019 in Like Jesus Does, Loving Others

 

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Father, forgive them…even the bullies

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

I have spent a number of weeks both at home and in my “day job,” trying to teach compassion and kindness. Encouraging children to not point out differences as if they are an abomination. But learning to love and accept the differences we all have.

Many times I have failed. Thinking the bigger bully. The one with the loudest voice wins. At times I have been deeply discouraged. Feeling as if my effort to teach kindness and love is falling on deaf ears.

I have not been immune to bullies myself. Yes even adults are bullied. Even kindness warriors are treated unkindly. And in our home we have experienced what happens when a friendship goes sour, and a young girl becomes a target.

So despite the hatred, we seek to infuse our world with kindness. A love for all. To demonstrate and model these in the hopes that it will create a more kind, and less cruel world.

Love and kindness are both the way of Jesus.

But, so is prayer for those who are anything but kind.

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27

But Jesus took the call to prayer even further. He didn’t just pray for those who were outcasts, or deemed unacceptable by society; he lived among them. And he was criticized and questioned each time he stood up or dwelled among the least of these.

While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law saw him eating with the sinners, they asked the disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners.” Mark 2:15-17

And it is what we should do. Call the sinners. Spend time healing the sick. Many times we focus on the victims, as we should. But what if we did something different…and prayed for that bully? Or the person we don’t like? The person who is mean and rude to us day after day?

Jesus was clear when he called us to minister to the “least of these” in Matthew 25:40. He was clear that we are to feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Welcome the stranger. Stand up for the oppressed. Visit the prisoner. Love the unloveable.

Even the most unloveable bully.

This kind of love may make you an outcast. It may scare some folks who don’t embrace different. Praying for the bully is radically different. But we are called to be all these things. Because we are called to be like Jesus, and call the sinners.

So, next time you find yourself lamenting about the harsh words of another person. The actions of a bully. Or the cruel and hateful world. Speak the following in prayer instead:

Lord, I pray that you give them a new heart and put a new spirit in them. Lord remove their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

Remember to pray for the least of these. Encourage the least of these. Build up that bully. Sit amongst those who are not like you. Who may make you cringe, or hurt you. Because you may be the only one who is praying for them. The only one who is praying for their heart to be changed.

And because it’s what Jesus would have done: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” 

 

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2019 in Like Jesus Does, Loving Others

 

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A BFF like no other

The subject of friendships has been the topic of much discussion in the many roles I have in this crazy thing called life. Friendships, especially those you have when growing up, can be hard to navigate. Tough to figure out who is true, and who is not really that good for you. Who is going to be there through it all, or who is going to drop you when life becomes too much to handle.

We also define our relationships with our friends based on our similarities, not realizing that our likes are often fleeting, and thus can’t sustain a relationship for very long. When a difference or conflict occurs because we don’t agree, if our friendships are based on being the same, it is hard to move past these differences.

Since I have grown out of the girl drama, and now firmly believe that everything I truly need to know is right in God’s Word. The same is true for friendship.

The friendship formed between Ruth and Naomi was one example, but the friendship of David and Jonathan is another great example of the amazing, unexplainable, unbreakable bonds of friendship that can endure through immense hardship and trials. Showing how a friend can also be a powerful mentor or role model.

First, David and Jonathan were unlikely friends. 

“So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as King.” 1 Samuel 15:23

The “you” mentioned here is Saul, the king. However, the decision he made to go rogue in battle and disobey God meant his family lost the honor of inheriting the title. His son, Jonathan, as a result lost the chance to become a king.

Then…enter David. Twelve years old. To become the newly anointed. The next in line to become king. Jonathan, once in line. Now losing his place to a kid!

Even still, there is a bond between the two, and a love for “self.”

By the time David had finished reporting to Saul, Jonathan was deeply impressed with David-an immediate bond was forged between them. He became totally committed to David. From that point on he would be David’s number one advocate and friend. 1 Samuel 18:1-3

Consider that Jonathan is much older than David. David was a young boy at this point, chosen to soothe Saul’s anger with music. He has defeated the giant, and claimed victory for the Israelites. He has also now become a threat to the king.

This little kid.

At some point he was going to need an advocate. A friend. God knew this.

So he sent Jonathan. Who could have been jealous, too. I mean he was standing in front of the kid who was going to be seated one day where he should be. But he set his own desires aside to love David. As much as he loved himself. Making a vow to love him and take care of him.

Jonathan was a mentor and encourager.

Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. 1 Samuel 23:16.

David is hiding. His enemy Saul wants him dead, and Jonathan goes looking for him? Of course he did. To encourage him. To remind him that he was chosen by God. To steer him in the right direction. To help him not falter in his walk, and to never give up. That’s what a loyal friend and role model does. Encourages. Lifts us up. Steers us to the right path. Reminds us who to look to for strength when we feel like giving up, and they drop everything to come find us when we need encouraging, too.

There is honesty and truth between the two, even when it is hard and hurtful. 

Saul called his son Jonathan together with his servants and ordered them to kill David. But because Jonathan treasured David he went and warned him. 1 Samuel 19:1-2

Jonathan knew that what Saul was plotting was wrong. Because he had committed to advocate for David, he was also committed to stand up against Saul’s jealous rage even if it meant he lost the favor of his father. Jonathan proved that honesty, truth, and loyalty are not only hard, but can be deeper than ties to family. They also require loyalty to ones values and often tremendous sacrifice.

Promises are kept, even to the end.

“God will be the bond between me and you, and between my children and your children forever.” 1 Samuel 20:42

Even after Jonathan’s death, David remains loyal and committed to the friend he loved as a brother, taking in Jonathan’s child, and returning Saul’s land to him in his late father’s honor.

And Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, just like one of the royal family. 2 Samuel 9:12

So, what is so special about David and Jonathan? I think it goes back to what we all desire in the bonds of friendship. They were true. To each other and the promises they made. It was not a relationship born of jealousy, deceit, or betrayal; but one where the desires and needs of the other were placed above one’s own. And neither dropped the other when hardships and life became too much to handle.

At some point we will need an advocate. A friend. And God knows this. And when the time comes, I pray he sends you a friendship and a bond like David and Jonathan’s. Someone who will love you as they love themselves.

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2019 in What About Your Friends

 

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Would you go where they go?

“How do they do it? How do they find each other? It’s like they can sniff out each other’s chaos?”

These are sometimes the conversations I have about the relationships amongst growing kids. How they decide to form attachments to those who are either good or bad for them. How we, as adults, do the same.

“Well, the same way adults do, right? We are all looking for someone who knows and will still accept our brand of crazy.”

That person who will see past our faults. That person we can trust. Who won’t gossip about us once we leave the room. Who will share in our struggles, and not share them with others. Be there when we are down. Pick us up when we need it.

Who when times are tough. We can’t see anyway out of the darkness. Have been acting a little crazy, distant, needy, whatever…won’t get sick of us, and leave.

Don’t we all want that?

“Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life bitter for me; the Lord has caused me to suffer, and sent tragedy upon me.” Ruth 1:20, 21 (NLT, paraphrase).

Naomi, a name given that meant “pleasant,” had suffered a life that during this time had been anything but. She had left Bethlehem. Moved to Moab with her husband. Had two sons, and then lost all three. Naomi had in turn become bitter (which is the meaning of the name “Mara”). Angry at God for seemingly allowing her grief. She fully expected to spend the rest of her life alone and abandoned in the same way she felt God had left her.

She did not expect anyone to remain loyal during her suffering. To endure her grief and pain alongside her.

But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us (Ruth 1:16-17).

To vow to stay with her until the end.

Ruth was no longer obligated to do so. No longer married to Naomi’s son. Technically no longer part of Naomi’s family.

But to Ruth, she was making a commitment that had nothing to do with blood or technicalities. Ruth saw Naomi. In pain. Grieving. And made a commitment to endure life with her. Through the ups and downs.

Through the suffering.

She made a sacrifice to love Naomi as her own family.

She didn’t weigh what was in it for her first. She didn’t do it in order to get anything out of it. Both women returned to Bethlehem with nothing. She simply saw another suffering soul; a woman in need of a friend. Someone needing to be accepted with all her “crazy.” She decided to love her and stand by her until the end.

Isn’t that what we all want?

The person we tell to leave, but just won’t. They stay and ride out our junk with us. Even if they have their own junk. Even if they don’t have to. Even if they have somewhere to be. Any time you call. Every time you fall.

We all want someone who will stay when we get a little sideways, and yes, a little “crazy.”

Do you have that person? Are you that person for someone?

Maybe today you can be just a little softer in the midst of someone’s struggle. Stay a while in someone’s “crazy” moment. Sit in someone’s chaos, instead of growing bitter. Help someone navigate their return home, so they don’t have to alone.

Even if you have somewhere to be. Even if you have your own junk. Even if you don’t have to.

Just go wherever they go for a while.

 

 
 

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“Real” Love….getcha some.

I’m going to show my age here. Urban Cowboy. It’s a movie. John Travolta. Not so Grease and Saturday Night Fever cool.

Common boy meets girl, fall in love, fall out of love, do whatever you can do to make each other jealous until you realize…well darn, he really was the one type of movie.

Classic.

I remember the movie. Yes. But, I remember one of the songs even more. Probably because when I think of this song it brings to mind a late friend. Singing it over and over in the middle of my living room, doing the same exact thing: “Lookin’ for love in all the wrong places/Lookin’ for love in too many faces.”

Sound familiar?

Looking for acceptance from the number of likes on your Insta post.

Looking for approval from the “in” crowd. The “cool” kids.

Changing who you are, or ditching your own goals because someone else has told you they were lame. All because he or she “loves” you.

Looking for love from the first person who looks extra long at you, or gives you a sideways glance, even if they may be oh-so-wrong for you. Even if you know this already. You need love.

Looking for attention from those who will laugh at any little thing you do, even if it’s not some nice stuff. Maybe some downright cruel stuff.

You will change your style to find love.

You will do whatever you can to lose weight for love.

You will give up on a dream for love.

You will forget who you are.

All for what you believe to be love.

Love like that. The kind that demands you be someone you are not. The kind that is all based on that “Ooooohhhh. Aaaaahhhhh. I need that” feeling. It’s fleeting. It goes away once that “need” goes away. And then you move on to something else.

There is, however, a love that never leaves.

God told them, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love!” Jeremiah 31:3, MSG

It’s the love that comes from our Creator.

How would I know?

Because I knew the fleeting kind of love. I knew the kind that caused me to sell myself short because someone “loved” me. Because it was “cool.” Because I “needed” something.

But when I realized that all I ever needed to be was wholly and gloriously me in the eyes of God. That I could be accepted in all my broken pieces, and he would love me anyway, and create in me something new and amazing-I didn’t need the approval of the world anymore.

Love found me. It loves me when I am unloveable. It pushes me towards a dream that is all my own. It knows my personality. My style. What I bring to the table. To the room. The space I am in, and uses that, because He put that in me. He loves those gritty, fiesty, inner fighter parts of me.

The world will look at those parts and see something different, and there was a time that used to break me down. But I’m not looking for love from those faces.

I’m looking for it from One place. The One.

Because I’ve never known anything else quite like it.

Want that kinda love? The “real” kind. Unconditional. Everlasting. You can getcha some, too. It’s pretty amazing.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2019 in Craving More of God, Loving Oneself

 

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