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I’m Sorry About Your Marriage…

This is hard stuff.

 

It seems that every circle I am in, someone’s marriage is in a slow crumble.  Every.  Circle.

 

Some married for a short time, others for years.  Some without children, others with kids.  Some young, some older.

 

When we are preparing to marry we dream BIG!!

 

Those dreams can begin to play out in our minds like a film.  The engagement period where we are eager to show everyone our shiny ring and the wedding planning begins.  The day comes, vows are exchanged in front of God and witnesses and before you know it, the week is over and it’s back to reality.  Most women I know are planning out the next phase and then the next of life in their little family (because women are planners you know!).

 

The hum drum of life sets in and the daily routine rocks along.

 

This is where the mystery begins.

 

I’ve never been in these shoes, but I know many who have.  Unhappiness, discontent, anxiousness…shock, unbelief, helplessness…panic, fear, worry…anger and hurt…loneliness.

 

The dreams dreamed years before don’t just disappear.  They’re still there.  Only now, they’re not in color, they’re in black and white.  There’s no life left in them when the reality of what is happening sets in.

 

When I hear of another friend whose conversations with their spouse now include the “D” word, my heart sinks.  It’s like when someone dies and there just aren’t words.  Only hugs.

 

Divorce is a death.

 

It’s the passing of a dream, shared goals and the most important relationship in someone’s life.  Feelings of denial, anger, sadness and eventually acceptance pass through.  It demands to be mourned just like any other great loss in our lives.

 

When the marriage ship has crashed into the rocks and is splintering into a million pieces, most don’t want to hear “God has a plan” or “hold tight to Jesus”.

 

2 words.

 

I’m sorry.

 

I’m sorry!

 

It’s not for pity sake.  It’s a genuine expression that I’m sorry your dream has died.  I’m completely, fully sorry.  I can’t even begin to imagine what you’re facing.

 

I would like to share some observations I’ve had the privilege to witness.

 

May I do that?

 

A marriage that is trembling, one that has lost it’s way…I’ve seen one spouse turn to their faith in God and lean in with everything they’ve got.  They lift up their spouse to the Lord thinking that He will change their spouse.  Surprisingly, change usually occurs in the one doing the praying first.  I’ve witnessed patience creep in.  A more positive attitude.  I’ve seen walls of defensiveness slowly be chipped away.

 

A marriage that is over…the women I know who have walked through a marriage and ended on the other side of divorce, I’ve seen them find their strength through the journey.  I know, it’s a horrible way to realize how strong you are…horrible…but it just is.  I’ve witnessed it first hand.

 

 

He can take the things in our life that some meant for our harm, and He can turn them into something wonderful.  Something we could have never predicted.

 

” And we know that God causes everything to work together[m] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

Romans 8:28

Can I make an attempt to encourage you here?

Whether your marriage is shaking, whether the gauntlet has already been thrown down, whether the counselors just aren’t working or your spouse refuses to even give them a try…whether your court date is next week or you’ve been on your own for a while now…whether you’re just plain unhappy and you haven’t said the “D” word out loud, but you’re thinking about it…

Romans 8:28 tells us that God will work things out for our good-but only for those who love Him.

Do you love Him?  This may not sound like an “encouraging” question, but it’s key.

Do you love Him?

Get close to the One who knows you and your spouse (or ex-spouse) better than you know yourselves.  Let your closest friend or friends hug you and baby sit for you and go to court with you and pray with you.  Make sure you can trust who you confide in, make sure they are a friend who will talk to God about you, that is the mark of a true friend.

romans-1212

I’m sorry about your marriage.

But there is hope.  There is always hope for better days ahead for those who love God.

Always.

Praying for those walking this hard road,

Kellie

Come Sit With Me

It was early December a few years ago.  Tim and I were riding down the road.  I was in the passenger’s seat with pen and paper as we discussed what we wanted to buy our people for Christmas that year.  The issue we were having was that our loved ones basically have everything they need and most of what they want.  We were straining our brains trying to come up with things to spend our money on that may or may not be wanted or even appreciated.

In that moment, something came over me.  It was as if God was cracking open the door, ever so slightly, and giving me a glimpse into the life of a single parent.  For just a brief moment in time, my feelings shifted from strain and frustration to desperation and worry.  I saw a flash of faces, all of the single parents in my life.  Like a dream that only lasts about 30 seconds but would take 30 minutes to describe.  It drove me to tears.

That moment was life changing for me.  I began asking myself what I could do to come alongside single parents to encourage them.  Little did I know that God was going to blow the doors off of my small minded thinking.  Not because I’m someone special, but because these parents are.

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Genesis 2:18 NIV

Unfortunately, the perfect world He originally intended is no longer in existence.

Does it matter why they are a single parent?  Only to God.  It’s not our business.

God is looking for people who are willing to leave the comfort of their own friendship circles and embrace these single parents.  I am sure of it.

Those who are reading this and are married, take a journey with me for just a moment…What if you were suddenly left alone to care for your home and children?

  • Who would help you clean house, buy groceries and shuffle kids to the ball park on a typical Saturday…after putting in a 40+ hour work week?
  • Who would share yard work with you?
  • Who would help you pay your bills and save for a vacation?
  • Who would pick up your kids from school when you’ve been in bed with a fever all day?
  • Who would let you get a little sleep when you’ve been rocking a sick baby for 2 days?
  • Who would tag team parent with you when your teenager starts to rebel?
  • Who would help you on Sunday mornings to get the kids up, fed and ready for church–on time?
  • Who would you sit with in church on Sunday morning while your children were in their own classes?
  • Who would you tell about the day you’ve had at work after you’ve finally gotten the kids to do their homework, shower and get to bed?

Who?

I’ve never been a single parent but I’ve had the privilege to come alongside many and observe and participate in life with them.  They are strong.  They are over-comers.  They inspire me.

Single parent

I’ve personally been asked, and told, by single parents…

  • Can I sit with you in church so I’m not sitting alone?
  • Can you go to court with me? I don’t want to face my ex husband alone.
  • Can you arrange a time for me to meet other single moms in my area? I don’t really know any.
  • My car is in the shop, can you pick me up Sunday for church?
  • I don’t feel comfortable in Sunday school with all of the married couples; can you help me study my Bible?
  • I’ve been sick for 3 days and my kids are living off of microwave popcorn and Capri sun!
  • I’m looking for a second job so that I can afford to buy Christmas for my kids this year.

 

 “Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.”

Mark 9:41 NIV

Our response…

  • Yes you can sit with me; I’ll save you a seat!
  • When is that date? I’ll do whatever I can to support you.
  • Let’s put something on the calendar. I’ll gather some help and provide some childcare and we will make it a girl’s night!
  • I’ll be there at 10:30.
  • Yes! What do you want to learn about?  I’ll pick us up a study guide and we’ll get started.
  • I’ll bring you dinner tomorrow night, while I’m there, I’ll help you fold clothes too.
  • I know people who have more money than they know what to do with. Let me see what we can do to help. Do NOT take time away from your kids to buy them STUFF!  We’ll work this out, that’s what the church is for, and I’ll be in touch.

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling.

Psalm 68:5 NIV

Can we make the effort to reach out?  Single parent families can benefit greatly from spending time with families where both parents are present.  Their kids can see what a two parent household looks like.  Single moms and dads can ask for advice and even give it to two parent homes.  They’ve had to be creative in ways that two parent homes don’t have to be.  They have a lot to offer.  We can learn from each other. They don’t want pity.  They need us.  We need them.

Let’s step from our comfort zones.

Speak up.

Reach out.

Follow through.

Especially at this time of year.

Who can you ask to sit with you this Sunday?  Start there.

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Learning To Love Without Limits

 

love-never-fails-source

In the first book 0f Peter, Peter is writing, instructing the church in a number of things.  Do’s and Don’ts. How to live a holy life.  Warnings on avoiding sin.  etc. etc. etc.

Towards the end of the book, he seems to wrap up all of those details with this…

” Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

1 Peter 4:8

God knows that even though He can tell us how to live, He can show us how to live and He can motivate us on why we should live in this way…we.  need.  simple.

And there is nothing more simple than loving someone.

I lost some of you there didn’t I?  We’ve all had someone we tried to love and it just seemed difficult.  May I suggest it was not in the loving them that was difficult, but in our expectations of their reaction to our love that made it so?  God doesn’t ask us to love according to how the other person will respond.  He just tells us to love.  Unconditionally.  Like His love for us.

 

Why should we love without limits?

God’s love for us is the thread that is woven throughout scripture.  Every story.  Every word.  It all boils down to His love for us.

Before our very existence, we were loved.  Unconditionally.  Out of our own experience of being loved without any strings attached, we love others.  Taking what has been freely given to us and passing it on.  Good stuff in, good stuff out.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

Who are we to withhold our love from others in light of what Jesus has done for us?

Indulge me for a moment and allow me to string some words together that I see in the good Book.  I’ll reference where they are if you’d like to look at them in context.

 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Mark 12:31a

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.”  Luke 6:32

“Above all, love each other deeply…” 1 Peter 4:8a

“…love covers over a multitude of sins”  1 Peter 4:8b

“…love never fails”  1 Corinthians 13:8a

Love never fails?  Doesn’t that mean that it always wins?  That’s good news!

Who do we love without limits?

Everyone

 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Mark 12:31a

Who is it that you have a hard time loving?

That neighbor who comes and goes at all hours?

That boss who takes advantage of his/her flexible schedule?

That new friend of your child you just don’t like?

That family member who keeps disappointing you?

That ex-spouse who won’t pay their child support?

That father that walked out when you were a child?

That counselor who keeps giving you homework in your marriage?

That teacher who plays favorites in your child’s classroom?

That person staring back at you in the mirror every morning?

No one is exempt.  No one has used their sin card too many times.  No one is so despicable or deplorable that we are not to love them.  God doesn’t withhold His love from anyone and we are to follow His lead.

How do we love without limits?

He makes this so easy for us that He even defines what love is.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…”

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

“…it keeps no record of wrongs…”

“…it does not dishonor others…”

Ouch.

As believers in Christ, we are to be conduits.  A pipeline of sorts.

Think of a storm drain.  The fresh, clean rains pour down and those drains have the task of funneling that water from one place into another.  But, sometimes they get clogged with trash and muck.  When they do, the pipes aren’t able to do what they were made for.  Water backs up.  The source of the water keeps pouring in and the pipe becomes stressed and bloated.  The water that was supposed to run through is now sitting, attracting insects and becoming stagnant.  On the flip side, the areas that desperately needed that water are left thirsty.  Soil sits dry.  Pipes begin to age and crack.

The love Christ has poured into us…let’s be careful not to slow down that flow with a bunch of trash in our pipes.  Trash like pride,anger, jealousy…

 

I’ve had a name or two on a list before.  People I did NOT want to even THINK about loving.  Content to let someone else throw them a smile or be kind.  Holding wrongs against them seemed, and seems, like the intelligent thing to do, right?  Aren’t we supposed to judge people by their fruit?  Yes.

But…

Just because I love someone, doesn’t mean they are my new best friend.  It doesn’t mean I agree with their choices or we need to start meeting for coffee.

Loving them simply means that I recognize that I am no better than they are in the sight of the One who gives us both breath.  We are on a level playing field.  There is only one Judge and I am not it.

I’m learning that I can love someone up close and I can love someone from a distance.  I’m learning that people are in my life on purpose for a purpose.  I’m learning that while I learn to love, even when I don’t want to, it changes me.  I become less self-centered and more thankful for the grace that God extends to me on a daily basis.

This is walking in the freedom that faith provides.  He loves.  I love.  It will never fail.

I’m learning a lot about this and it’s all good.

Why do we love without limits?

Because we are loved without limits.

Who do we love without limits?

Anyone with breath in their lungs.

How do we love without limits?

With perseverance and constant hope.

Reflect & Respond:

**  Are you withholding love from someone?

**God tells us that love covers over a multitude of sins.  Thank Him for that and begin praying for whoever is on your list.  But be fore-warned, your prayers may not change that person, but they will almost always change you!

Praying for you all,

Kellie

 

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The Art of Letting Them Go…

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When I think of creating art, words like messy, beautiful, creative, frustrating, expectation, intentional and unique come to mind.

If you were creating a piece of art, what would you think of?  What would your process look like?

This is how I am beginning to view my duty of letting my adult children go well (I want to do this so well).  It’s a process that began as early as their elementary school years.  But, we are rounding the final corner of this journey here at our home.

We’ve all heard it before, even if you’re not a believer.  “Love your neighbor as yourself“.

This passage of scripture is one of the most quoted pieces of the Bible.  Ponder it.

Now, step back and filter your children through these words.

“Love (child’s name) as yourself.”

Just like creating a piece of art requires purposeful thinking, letting our children go requires intentional planning.

I love my children fiercely.  Achingly.  Desperately  Blisteringly.

I love them with firmness.  Decisiveness.  Determination.  Purposefully.

If we are loving our neighbors, our children, as ourselves, won’t we love them like this?

With desperation, determination and with purpose.  Fiercely and firmly.

It’s a choice we all have to make.

Don’t you want to be loved like that?

 

 

Just like creating a piece of art requires constant motion, letting our children go requires continual plodding.

If we love our children with fierceness and firmness can we still give them the freedom to fly or fall?

I say yes.

But this is also a choice.  A verb.

To give them the freedom that is.

And it is necessary to their development.

If they fly, they will own it like a rock star!  “Look at me!  Look what I did!”  The self-esteem and confidence that comes with that flying can’t be taken from them.  Ever.

If they fall, they will learn.  They will self-examine.  They will re-examine.  They will know next time, and they will OWN the success that comes when they choose differently down the road.

 

This is how they learn.  This is how they mature.

 

Just like creating a piece of art stirs emotions from deep down in our souls, letting our children go will wreck us with a passion words cannot even describe.

Here is just a glimpse of what I’m learning in this season…

I’m learning how to view my children as adults.

I’m learning that although they respect me, they will make their own decisions.

I’m learning that if they don’t take my advice, it doesn’t mean they’re making a wrong choice.

I’m learning that they need to come to terms with their own faith in God.

I’m learning that that is a process.

I’m learning that although it’s scary to watch, I would rather they own their own faith than to piggy back off of mine.

I’m learning that although I was once physically exhausted from running our household and raising these children, it is sometimes just as mentally exhausting now.

I’m learning that my mom must have kept her mouth shut A LOT when I was a young adult!

I’m learning when to keep my own mouth shut.

I’m learning to be ready to break their fall but still let them feel some of the effects when they trip.

I’m learning if I shelter them or assume responsibility for their negative consequences, they’ll never learn or mature.

I’m learning they were listening even when I didn’t think they were.

I’m learning to encourage and take a step back.

So.  Much.  Learning.

Love your neighbor as yourself

Matthew 22.39b NIV

We can love our children with fierceness and firmness and still give them the freedom to fly or fall.

It’s in the flying that we feel the kiss and approval of our Heavenly Father.

It’s in the falling that we feel His forgiveness, His unconditional love and His grace.

Oh, His beautiful grace…

I want my children to experience that.  I want it to be personal for them.

Most importantly, if I love my children as myself, I am going to pray for them.  Fiercely and firmly.  Daily.  Hourly.  With passion.

Don’t you want to be prayed for in this way?  To have your name called out and laid down at the Father’s feet like this?  I sure do.

praying-for-kids

“Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him.”
Psalm 127:3

Moving through this season of life can be hard.  Messy.  Sometimes stressful.  It’s also satisfying.  Joyful.  A privilege not all are afforded.

It involves purposeful planning, constant plodding, and explosive passion.

I still have a lot to learn.  At times I will fly.  At times I will fall. That simply means I’ll have even more in common with my children.

It’s all good.

And God is good.

He will guide, teach, comfort, encourage…He honors our efforts to do this well.  He loves our children more than we do, so stick close to Him.  Gather with friends who are walking through this season.  Encourage one another.  Share wisdom with one another.  Pray for one another.

Like an artist working on a masterpiece, make yourself step back frequently, stand still, and admire what God has already done in the lives of your children.

 And thank Him.

He loves that stuff 🙂

Reflect & Respond:

**Have you ever viewed your children as your neighbor?  How does it motivate you to let go of them well?

**Ask the Lord to show you how to apply this scripture, the second most important command, into your daily life.  He will be faithful to do it.

Praying for you all but especially those who are in this season with me,

Kellie

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Sometimes My Words Get In The Way

shhh

“Just keep your mouth shut.”

This has been my mantra to myself in this season of my life.  I’ve never been accused (by an adult) of using all the words or babbling excessively or writing something in 800 words that could really be written in 200, but…the older I get…I seem to be getting a little more opinionated and I’m catching myself wanting to “fix” things that are broken with my nuggets of wisdom (that’s sarcasm people).

 

More specifically (and most transparently) I’m wading through the waters of watching my grown children make their own decisions.  Some of which I know I cautioned them to make differently.  GASP!!

 

I know I’m not alone in this.  Come on now.

 

I’ve been reading a book this Summer with some other ladies and it is stretching my faith.  It’s challenging me in many areas of my life but this one issue about my words…my tongue…yeah.

 

What I’m learning first hand this season has got me kind of excited though.

 

“Too much talk leads to sin.
    Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.”

Proverbs 10:19

The only way I know how to explain it is just to say that the more I keep my mouth shut, the more room God seems to have to work out His plan.

I’m visual…picture this:

We have planted seeds into our children for 19-22 years.

Some have started to break through the soil, others are still being worked underground.

They were quality seeds, they were planted in good soil, we’ve watered them consistently over the years, they will produce vibrant, healthy character traits.

If I try to talk those seeds out of the ground, my efforts are futile.

Sometimes when I’m so focused on waiting for something specific to sprout up, I miss out on something else blooming to my right or left.

Does that make sense?

(Side note:  Seeds are cool, we can learn a lot from them, but that’s another post for another day)

Now, I know that God is much too big to let me get in the way, but there are times that I know I’ve spoken up when I shouldn’t have and I sense that He is sitting in a comfy chair in the corner of my mind saying “go on…you seem to know what you’re doing…let’s see how this works out”…ahem.

While God does care deeply about the details of my life, I remind myself that it’s really not even about me.  As Christians, it’s about Him.

Its about pointing people to what He has done for us (and them).  Pointing people to the fact that He set all of this up down here and His ways are best.  Pointing people to the fact that while we can get so tangled up in the details of raising our children, bettering our marriages, climbing the corporate ladder, and doing whatever we need to do to move past our past regrets or hurts, this life is fleeting.

I’m realizing that this “pointing” is better accomplished with fewer words and more action.

**I love that Chick Filet cooked on a Sunday to nourish those grieving in Orlando recently.  They didn’t announce it in a news conference.  They just did it.

**I love that our dear friends sold everything and moved to another state to feed the hungry.  They didn’t make a 6 month business plan for this, they were serving the poor within their first week.  They just did it.

**I love that my church doesn’t just pray for those in need around us, they actually reach out and contact these people.  They give away free clothes and hygiene items and pet food.  They just do it.

**I love that my husband doesn’t talk about the importance of good work ethic with our children, he walks the walk.  He just does it.

Actions speak loud.

Here’s what I know.

When I feel tempted to use all my words, it’s usually because I’m anxious about something.  The Bible tells me not to worry.  Frankly, this takes practice.  It takes discipline.

 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear…”

Matthew 6:25

The Bible tells me to roll over what’s got me bothered onto Him.

“Cast your cares on the Lord
    and he will sustain you;
he will never let
    the righteous be shaken.”

Psalm 55:22

The Bible tells me it doesn’t go well for the one with the most words.

“The wise in heart accept commands,
    but a chattering fool comes to ruin.”

Proverbs 10:8

This is just a smattering of instructions along this vein of my mantra in this season.

What I see happening around me is that God has more room to work things out that my words were probably making little impact on anyhow.

When we do things the way He set up before the beginning of time…it just works.

Kinda like this…

I have a burden or strain or a time of confusion…which leads to reminding myself that He tells me not to worry…which leads me to rolling it over onto Him to take care of…which leads to me using fewer words with those around me…which leads to my faith being built up and strengthened in Him…which leads to Him being pleased with me…which at times, leads to  Him using my words to point others to Him.  Humble privilege.

I’m less stressed, less burdened, the people I am so worried about are hearing from God (not me), I’m out-of-the-way, He is leading, He’s more pleased with me and I feel closer to Him than ever.

This is where freedom lies.

He is glorified—not me—and when that happens—it’s really indescribable.  I feel like we’re in this secret club together.

Would you like to join?

What is it that you are trying to fix?

Who is it that you are trying to fix?

Take it to the Lord.  Roll it onto Him.  He not only can handle it but He tells us to do it.  Then, walk away from it.  Seriously.  Don’t talk about it unless it’s in a positive light.  A light that says “God’s got this”…”I’m not worried about it anymore”…”His timing is perfect”…”That person doesn’t need more of me, they need more of Him“.

Our goal as believers should be to grow closer to Him.  No matter our circumstances, that’s the goal.  The ripple effect will include the rest of the Book.

Oftentimes, we aren’t growing closer to God because our hands and hearts are so full of our own stuff.  We can’t grab hold of Him or keep up with Him because we are weighed down.

Let’s roll our burdens onto Him.

Open our hands and release whatever it is we are gripping so tightly.

Trust Him with that thing that has got us so tangled up inside.

Trust Him with that thing that tempts us to babble over and over and over about.

Speaking for myself, I’m gonna work on just keeping my mouth shut.

Blessings,

Kellie

Your Time Is Now

I was in the nail salon a few weeks ago.  Often times there is a language barrier between me and the nail technician and this time was no different. But, she wanted to talk, and so talk we did.

As the flat screen T.V. played in the background, news reports were being aired of another tragedy in our country involving innocent lives being taken in the name of evil.  Just because.

This precious woman kept looking up to my face to talk to me.  Oftentimes, she rolled her chair away to take a few seconds to accurately pronunciate what it is she wanted to say.  I understood every word.

purpose

 

Her young son had just told her that morning that there was no hope for our country.  He was asking her why he should go to school and continue to move forward with life when so much tragedy and fear was gripping those around him.

 

She assured him that he was safe, gave him a hug, and sent him out to catch his school bus.

 

She was heartbroken.  What mother wants to hear their child tell them that there is no hope?  What I discovered while speaking with her was that she was grasping for some hope herself.

 

“… who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Esther 4:14b

 

There is a story told in the Bible about a young woman named Esther.  Through circumstances that only God himself could have created, she was placed in a position she never saw herself in.  During this particular time of her life, she had the opportunity to voice her opinion to someone of power.  An opinion that could cost her her life.  She could have chosen to keep her mouth closed.  To fade into the background.  To leave it to someone else.

 

But her dear friend Mordecai urged her to speak.  He proposed to her that perhaps she had been put into this hard place, at this time, “for such a time as this”.

 

She boldly spoke.  She risked her life for the sake of others.

 

Her obedience changed the course of history.

 

Have you ever felt like you were placed in a moment that had a bigger purpose than you had planned?

 

God has His eye on you.  He knew from the beginning of time that you would be here, in this moment.  He knew what your address would be today, the hurts and triumphs that brought you to this place and most importantly, the people that would be in your life…even if for a brief moment in time…to offer hope…to offer truth.

 

“Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart,
    and good news gives health to the bones.”

Proverbs 15:30

 

I was getting a pedicure.  Who knew that I would leave there feeling humbled that God would allow me to encourage this sweet lady…that I would have had the opportunity to point someone beyond what is happening in our brief lifetime…to deposit words into her that would continue to work actively even if I never saw her again.  To give a smile.  A hug.  And yes, a big tip.

 

God has brought us to this place.  For this time.  With these people. Let’s guard against worrying what others might  think of us.  Let’s keep our eye on the only One who really matters.  What a privilege it is to know that the creator of all things wants to use you and me to bring hope and light to all people!

 

He is the only one who offers a hope that is everlasting, that surpasses the momentary troubles of this world.  So keep your eye out.  You never know when or where an opportunity will arise.  Where God will place you.  Whose heart is hungry for encouragement.  Whose soul is longing to be connected with their creator.

 

When you question your circumstances.  When you’re not even paying attention.  When things are going good, and when things are going bad.  Perhaps it’s not about you…it’s not about us.  It could be that we were placed in those moments for a greater purpose…”for such a time as this”.

 

 

Repairing Relationships…Life Lessons From a Contractor

My husband works in the construction industry.  He is often called to homes where the passing of time and weather have caused damage to the woodwork.  “Can you repair the rotten wood?” homeowners will ask.

Truth is, rotten wood cannot be repaired.  It is too damaged.  Discolored.  Soft.  It no longer serves it’s purpose and if not addressed fairly quickly, can allow damage to be done to what is behind it.

Relationships can be like this.  They can become worn down and stressed if not maintained properly.  Sometimes they are broken.  Outwardly they are hanging only by a thread.  Any rain or wind passing through can cause stress and strain.  Cracks in the exterior can lead to infestations of bad or wrong attitudes.

We’ve all been there.

We’ve all been hurt by someone.

We’ve all hurt someone else.

Even if unintentional.

Even if we refuse to recognize it.

“…if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”

Matthew 5:23-24 NIV

Leaving an offering for God is a form of worship.  It sounds like to me that the Lord doesn’t want our worship until we have reconciled with those we’ve offended.  That’s pretty important, would you agree?

Are you already thinking of someone who holds a grudge against you?  Someone who has an issue with you?  This isn’t about who is right and who is wrong.

**RECONCILIATION-[rek-uh n-sil-ee-ey-shuh n]an act of reconciling, as when former enemies agree to an amicable truce.

We should pray…first for ourselves, then for our offender.  Asking the Lord to remove our pride and to replace it with humility.  Asking him to help us to see the other person through his eyes.

We need to pull out our tool boxes and take out what’s needed for repairs.  Kindness, goodness, and a smile are a great starting point.  Self-control and the mindset of being “quick to listen and slow to speak”…yeah…let’s take that one out too.  It will come in handy.  Let’s leave our defensiveness in the box, we won’t be needing that.  Our desire to be “right”, let’s leave that in there too.

We must take the first step.  Reach out.  NO TEXTING!!  Call them up.  Hand write a well thought out, well prayed over letter.  Schedule a Starbuck’s date.  Buy their coffee.

When we’ve messed things up with God, he doesn’t turn his back on us.  He reaches out.  Reconciliation can be used to draw us closer to God, but to also open a window for the other person to see him more clearly.  It’s not just about us…it’s about HIM.

Rotten wood

Sometimes an “I’m really, really sorry” is just what the doctor ordered.  Sometimes it’s not.  Peeling back those layers will expose some things that might stink and look pretty nasty.  There may be pain involved in removing the rot.  In removing the hurt.  But once the heart of the problem is addressed, the Son is able to shine on the issue.  On the hearts of those involved.  The Son is warm, it refreshes, pulls out the stink.  Has healing powers.

I’m speaking to myself here.  To be honest, I’ve done this whole thing wrong over the years more times than I’d like to admit.  But, I am without excuse.  And I know from experience, that doing it right, God’s way, brings much more peace than doing it my way.  I just sleep better. This is part of the freedom we have when we walk in faith.

Let’s step out of our fears and take the first step.  Swallow our pride and seek restoration in our relationships.  Agree to disagree if we must, but bring harmony back where it needs to be.  Where there is amiability, God has more freedom to work in our hearts as well as our offenders’.

” Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.”

     Matthew 5:9 NIV

This is a hard thing.

He will give us strength.

Thank him for that along the way.