The Kindness of Intentional Blindness

Thank you  Michele Cushatt for today’s message.


We were hoping for a long, slow dinner out with good friends. Instead, what we got was a mediocre meal and a rude waitress.

From the moment we walked in the door of the tiny cafe, we felt her chill. She didn’t want us standing by the door, nor did she like it when we sat in a couple vacated chairs while we waited for a table. When our table was finally ready, she seemed annoyed by the number of our children. Then, when we asked for an additional glass of water, she let us know she’d already brought enough for everyone. We must’ve misplaced it. Finally, when we discovered we’d been given a regular pizza when we’d asked for gluten-free, she made sure we knew we must’ve ordered it wrong and it was definitely not her fault.

Now, I’d love to tell you my first instinct was one of compassion and grace. Instead, I looked at this snarky young woman—young enough to be one of my own children—and I considered how a good solid smack down might do her a bit of good. She was rude, disrespectful, unkind, and not at all the example I want my youngest three children to see. Customer service was absent, not to mention basic manners and human kindness. Her behavior was unacceptable, and every part of me wanted to tell her so.

Until later that evening, when we processed what had happened and an insight by my friend doused my fire:

“Did you hear what she said when she walked away? ‘I can’t do anything right.’ She must’ve been having a hard day.”

Just that fast, my annoyance turned to empathy. I knew what it felt like to have one of those days, when everything goes wrong and I feel like nothing but a failure. Sometimes it’s easier to erect a hard shell than crumble in a million pieces. Cold indifference feels safer than sadness.
I can’t help but wonder: What would’ve happened if I’d chosen lean in and extend kindness? What would’ve happened if I’d tempered my annoyance with both curiosity and grace? While her behavior was unacceptable, there’s a chance it might also be understandable. Perhaps she’d experienced a difficulty that day I knew nothing about, or even a loss my own heart couldn’t fathom.

Annoyance does nothing to lend comfort.

But kindness speaks calm to a storm.

“Fools show their annoyance at once,” Solomon said. By all accounts, I act like a fool more than not. I’m easily annoyed, especially with those closest to me, the ones living inside the walls of my house. Some days it doesn’t take much for my adolescent children to trigger a reaction. And, in many cases, their behavior deserves parental correction. But what if I responded to insults with kindness? What if my correction of them also included authentic connection? How might my calm demeanor melt the coolness of those around me?

After all, that is precisely what God does for us. When having a hard day, He doesn’t match my rudeness and obstinate  with His. Instead, He offers relationship, allowing His kindness to bring about the correction I so desperately need.

Have a blessed day!

 

If You Feel Like a Hot Mess, You’re Not Alone!


Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message.

This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus  ~ Romans 3:22-24 NIV

Sometimes I feel like such a mess, I wonder what God even wants with me. And then He reminds me that ALL His children are a mess in one way or another.

A common theme throughout Scripture is overcoming failure. Abraham passed his wife, Sarah, off as his sister because of fear (Genesis 12 and 20). Lot failed to stand up for what was right and offered his daughters to immoral men (Genesis 18-19). Jacob betrayed his father and stole his brother’s blessing (Genesis 27). Moses struck the rock twice in anger when God commanded him to strike it once (Numbers 20:11). Aaron gave into peer pressure and made a golden calf (Exodus 32).

Miriam had a bout of jealousy and tried to usurp her brother’s God-appointed position (Numbers 12). Jonah hopped on a boat and headed in the opposite direction when God called him to go to Nineveh (Jonah 1:1-3). Samson fell for the whims of a Philistine woman and gave away the secret to his strength (Judges 16). David committed adultery and murder and then tried to cover it up (2 Samuel 11).

You know what’s amazing? Most of these men and women are listed as people of great faith who “conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies” (Hebrews 11:33-34, emphasis added).

We have a great cloud of witnesses who can identify with failure. We are never alone in that regard.

Oh, friend, failure doesn’t have to be fatal or final. During a time of failure, the Enemy will tell you to quit trying, that you’re hopeless, worthless, and powerless to succeed.

Don’t believe him. Reject the lie and replace it with truth. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13 nlt). God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Learn from your failure under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit, and then move on. Nothing makes the devil madder than a child of God who fails, gets back up, and tries again with the power of God moving him or her forward.The next time you feel like you’re a hot mess, try the following.

Recognize the lie: I’m such a failure.

Reject the lie: That is not true.

Replace the lie with truth: I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13 nlt).

Have a blessed day!

Is Your Past Still Tripping You Up?

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message…

It spoke to me as I strolled down the check out aisle of Marshalls that day. The wall art that was featured on an impulse-buy rack.

 

Amen! I thought.

The message? Simple: “Don’t Stumble On Things That Are Behind You.”

My mind reeled, and I thought hard about this seemingly simple directive that points to a habit that trips so many of us up: looking back. Allowing the past to deter and diminish our present and our future.

The Apostle Paul had a difficult past to contend with. His early years were spent learning laws and tormenting Christ followers. Then he met Jesus and everything changed for him. He chose to move forward as the new man he’d become.

Instead of wallowing in the muck of condemnation, he stepped into the grace of Christ with determination. With a fresh mission. He wrote a heart-felt message similar to the wall art in his New Testament letter to the believers in the church of Philippi. That familiar, challenging passage…

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:10-14, NIV)

Many of us know this section of scripture, but it’s important for us to realize that the conversation doesn’t end there. What Paul says next is a game-changing statement:

Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (Philippians 3:15-16, ESV)

I want to be mature. I want to think this way. Don’t you?

I want to hold true to what I’ve attained in Christ.

It’s the way of life!

I read this and I begin to realize that what Paul is really saying is something to this effect: Let it go, people! Move on. Greater things await you. Don’t look back. It’s no good for you. You won’t gain any traction on the plans that God has for you. If you choose to look back then you need to grow up because that is not where your promise lies. If you are mature in your faith you will believe the gospel. When you are forgiven … You. Are. Forgiven. Believe it. What Jesus did for you and me covers anything that we lay at His feet. Fully.

I’m reminded that it’s time to move forward. That it’s time to fix my eyes on what is ahead, not on what is behind. That God’s mercies are new every day.

Clearly this press-on message is not about sweeping un-confessed sins under a rug and pretending they don’t exist. When we stumble – when we sin – we can’t just forget it and move on. We are to confess it to the Lord, and ask Him for forgiveness.

Grace meets us in the asking and settles it with God.Because of this we can move forward in His grace. Even when life is complicated and messy.

And it’s not about locking deep heart wounds in a secret compartment of your heart. The Bible invites us to take our aching, angry, abused, or offended hearts to Jesus so that He can give us the rest we long for. Healing for our heart wounds.

The reward of faith is freedom in Christ.

The past has no hold on you.

Grace fixes the gaze of the believer forward.

So the next time I’m tempted to look back at a failure or an old heart wound, I will remember the wall art wisdom from Marshalls and choose not to beat myself up, not to re-hash that painful conversation, not to blame that person … not to stumble on things that are behind me.

Instead I will reach for grace. I will reach for Jesus and call to Him for help.

And in the reaching I begin to take my place among the mature-in-faith.

Have a blessed day!

Recipe for A New Life

This month seems to be full of transformations…..It has been 6 years since hubby’s 10 day hospital stay which ended with a defib pacemaker which changed our life slightly.  I just celebrated one year in recovery after a VERY long relapse.  I am feeling like God is setting me up for a change in my life.  I am by no means complaining, although as you can tell by my recent posts, life has been a roller coaster of emotions…
There have been signs all around me about changing my mindset and the importance of it….. from posts on Facebook to conversations with friends to my Just for Today devotionals.  Not only does this apply to everyday life but it I am seeing how it is being applied in my business.
When I was in rehab, I remember a saying which went something like this: If one person calls you a duck – you can toss it aside, if two people call you a duck – it deserves some consideration but if three people call you a duck – you MUST be a duck!”  I haven’t been called a “duck” lately BUT I am seeing some of my passion moving in other directions.  In the past, this has been when I jumped ship at a job – it didn’t happen often especially after I got into Social Work.  For now, I am lookin for my purpose and seeking my passion…
So starting this morning, this duck is going to work on making a change from muddling through the waters to finding my joy.  Letting go of fear and doubt is the toughest thing for me.  The people pleaser in me doesn’t want to let anyone down, and doesn’t want to disappoint anyone.  The problem is, I can’t figure out if this is a temporary thing as a result of some MS issues or if my passion is truly changing.
Do you need to change your mindset?  Here are a few questions you can answer which might help:
  1. Identify the what happened to cause the change
  2. Why did it happen
  3. How can I use this for my personal growth
  4. What changes can I make to improve in the future
  5. Where can I find help or who can help
This is “recipe for life” was part of a devotion I had read.  Maybe this will help you in changing your mindset or counting your blessings:
Begin with a case of Joy
Add a heaping spoonful of Gratitude
Fold in a large dollop of Kindness
Stir in a handful of Forgiveness
Sprinkle liberally with Love and cover with Peace
Always serve with a large side of Faith
(Author unknown)
 
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Evidence of God’s Love

I would like to take a moment and wish a Happy Father’s Day to dads.  Today will be bitter sweet as I remember my dad and grandfather treasuring the moments with my hubby.

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message…..

Our hotel room had a small balcony that overlooked the swimming pool. Early one lazy vacation morning, I grabbed my journal, Bible, and a fresh cup of coffee then headed to the balcony for some quiet time.

As I settled in, movement by the pool caught my eye. I watched as a maintenance man approached a palm tree and briskly pulled a brown, life-less branch from underneath the green leaves. Oddly, before he pulled the dead branch off, I hadn’t even noticed it was there.

After he pulled it off, however, the palm tree looked fresh and vibrant.

Seriously.

The pruning made such a difference!

Jesus spoke to His disciples and said,

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

 I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.  (John 15:1-8, NIV)

Whom we spend time with really matters.

And what we say and do and how we say and do it also really matters.

Stay with me here! Don’t let the familiarity of this Scripture fade the impact it has on you.

I understand to my core how horrible it feels when my walk and my talk do not line up. Withered branches in my heart constantly need to pulled off and thrown away. You too?

In order to experience the blessings and power of God’s Spirit in our lives we must root our faith deep in the soil of God’s Word and then allow His truth to produce fruits that are ripe with evidence of His love. These fruits are clearly seen (or not) at the intersection of our faith and our actions. I’ve found that when I have those I-just-want-to-scream-because-everyone-in-the-world-is-on-my-last-nerve days God meets me with His grace when I whisper His name.

God will deepen the roots and increase the fruits of your faith as you spend time talking to Him early in the morning over a hot mug of coffee. When you pray and worship on the way to work or on your powerwalk. When you feel a prick of conviction in your heart about that behavior – or about that response – that tone – that act of disobedience. When you call out to Him for patience and strength as your teenager slams his door in rebellion – or when your adult daughter “forgets the morals she was raised with” and moves in with her boyfriend – or when frustrations mount up at work.

Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self control. To bring glory to God, this fruit of His Spirit must be seen in our lives.

Unfortunately, we have a keen ability to rationalize our less-than-fruitful behaviors.

But he… But she… But they… I just can’t…

Fortunately, God doesn’t expect us to behave like this without Him. In fact, we simply can’t. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing. Remember? (v5) But when we remain in Him – when we seek Him, obey Him, savor His presence, live for His glory, and prioritize Him above all else – we can and will make a big impact for God and experience the joy and peace we all long for.

The maintenance man at the resort didn’t pull the branch off to hurt the palm tree.

He pruned it to increase its beauty, health, and vibrancy. God does the same for us. He prunes His children to increase our beauty, health and vibrancy for our good and for His glory – to make us more useful to Him and more fruitful.

Pause to ponder this question: Are there any dead branches hanging on your tree?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!