Kind Words

words

Last week, my girl had to give a speech in class. This alone sends shivers down my spine. My first experience with speech giving sent my seventh grade teacher into hysterical laughter. She doubled over with tears in her eyes cracking up. The thing was, it wasn’t meant to be funny. It wasn’t supposed to entertain and as the students carried on, I decided that would be the last speech I would give. And it was, at least in seventh grade.

Karoline told me she couldn’t bring herself to speak in front of the class so she postponed her speech a couple of days. When she finally stood before her peers, she started to cry. She said she pulled herself together and pushed through but was not at all impressed with her delivery. She was just happy to have it over with. I truly felt her pain.

Our experiences in life along with our beliefs develop our understanding. We become what we’ve experienced whether it is good or bad. We are humiliated when we make bad choices therefore becoming humble. We are offered mercy when we least deserve it making us more compassionate. We are forgiven for the worst offences allowing us to look past sin to the heart of the offender. Every single traumatic experience has caused us to grow and expand our perspective.

Our lives are filled with mountain top experiences and sprinkled with difficult times. It is in those times of struggle we draw closer to God. We rely on His strength. Our trust is solidified. It’s funny, but most people will talk about difficult times over the easy because that is where change has happened. When we push through we see it was not us, but God. And we learn we are dearly loved.

After my daughter gave her speech, she moved on to her math class. Her teacher told her she had heard about the speech. Karoline was surprised when she said she heard it was really good. Many, many people around us are struggling. Sometimes they just need to hear words of affirmation. We may not be at the same point, but we are all on the same road. It’s a wonderful thing to lift someone’s spirits and remind them we understand.

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.(1 Thess. 5:11 NASB)

Giving up is Not an Option!

 grace

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. (1 Tim. 1:12-14 NASB)

I’ve been painting Jonah’s room over the last few days. He’s had the same design since he was three and last year, around his birthday, I told him I’d redo his room. I redid his sister’s so now it’s his turn. I’ve found myself, looking in at his room as I walk by. I flip on the light and look around at the drastic change. It was reminiscent of the many, many nights I would enter his room after he was asleep making sure he was breathing.

Jonah’s asthma has resulted in a couple of intense hospital stays and too many sleepless nights. I have been told he could die (a mother’s worse nightmare). I’ve heard the heart wrenching cries of my boy as the hospital staff removed mucus from his lung so it would start working again. I’ve sat quietly, reading my Bible only to jump when the alarms from the heart monitors rang. It’s been traumatic at times to say the least. Although his asthma has been under control for years, this morning I was right back there again.

Jonah also has to deal with eczema. Apparently, it’s common in asthmatics. Day after day I remind him to slather up and most days he ignores me. This morning he was complaining his eczema was burning and when I looked at his legs I became upset. It’s infected. He isn’t doing what I tell him. He’s not putting cream on. He’s not doing wet wraps. And now it’s a mess. So, this morning, my boy, who I love so very much, got an earful from his mother. My final comment was, do you realize if you do not take care of this, your infection could get so bad that you could die? I was angry and so was he. He didn’t say a word when I dropped him off at school.

I know my anger came from the fear he would have to suffer again. I’m trying to help him. We have all the tools. We have the education but he just won’t do what he’s supposed to and it upsets me. It hurts my heart because he will have to face the consequences and I will have to watch. I wonder if that feeling is something God possesses when we mess up. He gives us His Word for inspiration. He speaks to us through His Holy Spirit to encourage and warn us. He offers so many signs and yet, we walk right back into the same old sin over and over again. Then He sits with us while we endure the struggle we have perpetuated. Oh how our Father loves us!

Once again, I will take over; making sure Jonah is following his regiment. And after a while, I will hand the responsibility over to him again. I don’t know if he will rise to the occasion, but I will offer him a chance again. I won’t give up on him because God had never given up on me!!

What’s Missing?

 

building

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7 NIV)

I was driving down the street the other day and noticed a building was missing. It had been demolished with only the cement slab left intact. Hmmm, I thought. What used to be there? I’ve driven by that exact building a thousand times but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember what structure stood there. Of course, this made me think of why I couldn’t remember. Rather than admit I’m getting old, I decided my memory lapse was because I had never once entered into that building. I had no need to go there, so for me, it was an object taking up space.

This past week, a news story of a middle school boy has made the headlines. He committed suicide in a bathroom at his school. Rather than continue to live as he was, he decided it just wasn’t worth it anymore. Every single day, people passed the boy and had no idea he was suffering. Just like the missing building I passed every day, many didn’t even notice he existed. That in itself is a tragedy.

I think about that boy and others like him. I think about the people God ordains to cross my path each day. I want to be more mindful of them. It doesn’t take much. A smile and hello could be the simple act to cheer a downcast person. An offer to help could brighten another’s day. Listening to another’s struggle could show you care. People just want to know they matter to someone, anyone.

I confess. I find myself caught up in my to-do list each day. I rush around completing my errands without a thought of those around me. I am cordial to the clerk offering my thanks but I am completely unaware of his demeanor. I am so focused on my responsibilities; I have no time to allow anyone in even if God opened the door.

Lord, I know I am often distracted by the tasks I need to complete. Remind me to pay attention. Show me where I can make a difference. Help me look at those around me as precious children You love.

Is Jesus Angry?

anger

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. (James 1:19-20 NIV)

Was Jesus an angry man? I’ve been thinking of this lately. The political ads are beginning to increase. They are filled with jabs at opponents. Today marks the 13th anniversary of 9/11. People are remembering the horrible loss of life. Americans and Christians are under attack by terrorists around the world. It’s easy to become angry.

It seems everyone is angry about something. And it can get to the point where it consumes all of our energy. There is certainly plenty of fuel for the fire. But I have to ask myself how Jesus handled all of the injustices He experienced. What exactly made Him angry?

One of the events that recorded Jesus anger was the overturning of the money-changers’ tables in the temple. He was angry because they had taken something holy and made it an opportunity for financial gain. They had no care or concern for the spiritual well-being of their people. They were only interested in making money. His anger arose because a few were tainting the purpose of temple worship.

Jesus also became angry with the Pharisees. They were the spiritual leaders of the day but instead of honoring people, they imposed strict rules. They used their leadership as an opportunity to oppress people while Jesus offered freedom. Throughout His time on earth, Jesus challenged them because He knew they were leading people away from God. Their rules prevented people from worshipping God.

So, what makes us angry? Are we irate because the world doesn’t accept our views? Do we condemn those who don’t hold the same values? I suppose I would have to answer “yes” to all of those questions at some point. But what I realized is the thing that made Jesus angry was watching those He loved be led to believe they were not loved by God. He hated when people were told they didn’t matter to Him. I believe that’s why He spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well. I think that’s why he healed the blind man and forgave the woman caught in adultery. Over and over, He went to the imperfect and showed them they were meaningful to Him. Every day of His life Jesus showed people they didn’t have to be perfect to follow Him.

It is angering to remember 9/11. It is frustrating to hear of wars and brutality all over the world. And it’s saddening to see how we treat each other. It’s heart-wrenching to see how hate and condemnation lead to such violence. But, in my anger and in my sadness I have to remember Jesus’ love and His desire to have a personal and loving relationship with each and every person, regardless of their sin.

fromashestobeauty.com

fromashestobeauty.com

Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. (1 Chron. 29:13 NIV)

The beginning of the school year is always bumpy. No matter how hard I try to prepare, the unexpected throws a wrench upsetting my best intentions. Thankfully, after a few weeks, our new normal sets in as we have become adjusted to our new schedules.

Last night we had the rare opportunity of eating together. Well, four of us ate together while Nathan was working. Jonah shared a story about his P.E. teacher. He has the same teacher as last year. Jonah is not athletic at all, but his teacher seems to like him. Yesterday, the teacher was carrying a large stack of folders to the class. Jonah asked if he could help him. The teacher gladly handed some over and when they were finished said, “I appreciate you”.

Those words meant the world to Jonah. He said most people say, “Thanks. I appreciate it”. But his teacher said he appreciated Jonah. It was a quiet moment. The teacher didn’t praise him before the class. He just expressed his gratitude not for what Jonah did, but who he is. It touched Jonah’s heart (and mine).

This story came to mind while I was praying this morning. Sometimes, I get so caught up in the blessings; I forget to praise the One who blesses. I become distracted by the shiny things He gives forgetting there’s Someone behind the gifts. So today I took some time to thank God for being my Father, Provider, Lover of my soul, Healer, Protector and Redeemer. He is all those things and so much more. And I appreciate Him more than I can express but sometimes I forget to tell Him.

A Change of Heart

video

“Thank you Lord that we have a roof over our heads. Thank you for the food on the table. Thank you for giving us all that we need and also things we want. Amen.” Those were some words Jonah, my 12-year-old prayed last night. My hubby looked athim and asked, “Where did that come from?” I just smiled.

Last week, Jonah was arguing the point that if I were to go and get a job, we could afford more stuff. He was specifically thinking of a video game console along with games and a cell phone. I guess I have used, “We can’t afford it,” as my standard answer when he asks for something. This time we had a discussion about wants and needs. Apparently, it made an impression because last night his prayer was one of thankfulness rather than requests.

Jonah didn’t get to this opinion overnight. He obviously spent some time thinking about our talk. We talked about why I stay home and how important it is to and his Dad and me. We also talked about what we do have. For some, it may not seem like much but when we started to look at what we had, he saw we did have more than we needed. His opinion didn’t change just because I said so. It was altered because our discussion went to the heart.

Transformation doesn’t happen the instant we are saved. These things take time. They take work. Mostly they require a spirit willing to learn. Some lessons are painful and humbling. Others come through scripture or a sermon. But the idea is that change happens gradually. We can’t expect a lifetime of bad habits to disappear because we follow Jesus. He gently takes one at a time and shows us what He desires for that area of our lives.

Let God take the time He needs to work in your heart. He doesn’t expect perfection, only a teachable heart. It will happen.

But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. (Romans 8:25-26 NIV)

And for the record, I fully expect Jonah to continue to ask for stuff. Only now, I won’t tell him we can’t afford it, I’ll ask him if we really NEED it. He’s already working up a plan to save his own money for any “wants” he might have:)

A Change of Heart

video

“Thank you Lord that we have a roof over our heads. Thank you for the food on the table. Thank you for giving us all that we need and also things we want. Amen.” Those were some words Jonah, my 12-year-old prayed last night. My hubby looked athim and asked, “Where did that come from?” I just smiled.

Last week, Jonah was arguing the point that if I were to go and get a job, we could afford more stuff. He was specifically thinking of a video game console along with games and a cell phone. I guess I have used, “We can’t afford it,” as my standard answer when he asks for something. This time we had a discussion about wants and needs. Apparently, it made an impression because last night his prayer was one of thankfulness rather than requests.

Jonah didn’t get to this opinion overnight. He obviously spent some time thinking about our talk. We talked about why I stay home and how important it is to and his Dad and me. We also talked about what we do have. For some, it may not seem like much but when we started to look at what we had, he saw we did have more than we needed. His opinion didn’t change just because I said so. It was altered because our discussion went to the heart.

Transformation doesn’t happen the instant we are saved. These things take time. They take work. Mostly they require a spirit willing to learn. Some lessons are painful and humbling. Others come through scripture or a sermon. But the idea is that change happens gradually. We can’t expect a lifetime of bad habits to disappear because we follow Jesus. He gently takes one at a time and shows us what He desires for that area of our lives.

Let God take the time He needs to work in your heart. He doesn’t expect perfection, only a teachable heart. It will happen.

But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. (Romans 8:25-26 NIV)

And for the record, I fully expect Jonah to continue to ask for stuff. Only now, I won’t tell him we can’t afford it, I’ll ask him if we really NEED it. He’s already working up a plan to save his own money for any “wants” he might have:)