You’d Better…

Would you rather your kids “act right” or “love right”? Obviously, the better we love, the better we tend to act. But, if it’s just actions, where’s the love?

Loving “right” comes with all kinds of hard stuff. Courage to speak their truth, admitting anger and hurt, learning empathy, communicating their preferences, thoughts, opinions (that may be very different than my own). For them to love themselves and me properly, this all needs to come in to play. Still, I’d rather them love right than just act right and hurt quietly for shame that I won’t care about their pain or problems. I want them to love well, properly, healthfully.

This takes a lot of letting go. This will take a lot of prayer. This takes loving discipline. And, a lot less controlling. May they be raised seeing grace and care, so that they will be the first to recognize when it isn’t present. May they learn to love and appreciate the differences in themselves and others.

Loving is messy and hard, just look at the cross. It’s in the marriages, the loss of loved ones, the illnesses of children, and the rebellion of family members that this is tested and shown in all it’s painful brilliance. To love “right” isn’t easy. To act “right” can be. Superficial, but just that, an act.

May we love well. May we be willing to let go so that we can. They are their own beings with their own hearts, decisions, choices, and futures ahead of them. May I love them well through them all. Whatever they may be.

Being a parent opened my heart to the love of God when I realized that He loves my kids even more than I do. That’s hard for me to comprehend, but I know that it’s true. They were His before they were mine. But, it also reminds me that I am His child. And, I also think He’d rather me love right than just act right. And, I know now how much of a difference there really is.

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He Lit My Fire…

I didn’t fall in love with Jesus until He touched me when no one else would or could. I grew up in church, went to church camp, went to private church schools, I sang about Him, I was baptized, I prayed. Seeds were planted, but I didn’t fall in love…until then. And, when this shift occurred, I rushed back in to be baptized again. I came out of that water, heart pounding and in tears. This time was different. My heart was awakened to this great love just waiting on me. My fire was lit.

When Jesus reached out and held me in the coldest and hardest (thus far) time in my life, I fell. And, I fell hard. It was THEN that I knew He was my Rescuer, the Greatest Love of my life. If I had known before, I wouldn’t have been in that spot to begin with. But, I didn’t. So…..that moment of greatest pain turned into my moment of greatest love. He was there for me. Turns out, always had been. I just didn’t know what was missing.

Since falling head over heels for the One who died for me, I look for Him in others. I know now that a heart for Jesus is the safest heart. It would take a fierce love for our Savior to spark and trust again. It would take someone else who has been broken. Someone who gets it. Someone willing to go there for himself and for me. Someone with a similar desire to love again, anyway, and regardless. And, we all know that’s hard.

In the man I’m with now, this is what attracts me the most. We’ve both been broken in half. We’ve been up, down, and sideways, but I’ve never questioned his love for Jesus or me. He’s a gospel man.

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.  Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples”. John 13:34-35 (NLT)

Over and over I’m blown away be his capacity to love. Me, my kids, his kids, and others, even when it doesn’t seem returned. Tired, stressed, hurt. He loves anyway. And, we all know that’s hard too. This brings us back together and lights the fire over and over.

The fire Jesus lit in me is what, I firmly believe, will light my fire until the day it goes out on this earth.

Sounds strange to say “in love with Jesus”. But, being in love with Him helps me love others better too. It’s His joy and assurance in my heart that brings out the best in me. In all of us. He created us to love us. Embracing that love helps us to spread it like the wildfire that it is.

All consuming, all encompassing, unfailing.

This is the Jesus I want my girls to know. Because if they do, I know now, that they won’t be able to help but fall in love too. So, I just pray for this realization and recognition. The greatest love they will ever know.

He lights my fire.

Amazing Grace

I think, more often than not, the grace that people are afraid of, is the grace that sets them free. Being scared to be honest, taking off the mask, openly admitting struggles, voicing the bitterness, expressing the misunderstanding. These are all hard and they all take grace.

We tend to think “GRACE” means happy go lucky, peaceful, even “easy”…I know I did. But, now I view “GRACE” as strength, courage, the ability  (only way) to do the “hard thing”. Cheap grace is easy. God’s grace is power.

If we are called to a life of grace, God will allow a lot of pain. How else would it show? Showering those who have hurt us with grace is straight from God and goes against our flesh. When we allow ourselves to admit hurt from others and recognize the need for grace in ourselves, the power of grace is revealed. Showing grace to those who have hurt us, frees us and surprises others in today’s world. Just as I know that I don’t deserve God’s grace, they know they don’t deserve ours. It’s a gift we decide to give. Like God’s grace to us.

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you. Proverbs 25:21-22 (ESV)

I’m thoroughly convinced that the ONLY way to do this is by grace. Now, that’s power! When you think you’ve been hurt one to many times, when you think you can’t take one more lashing or bloody heart. When the person you never thought would or even could hurt you, does. Because we all fail each other. Remember, the grace of God, is not cheap. It’s the only thing that will heal your heart. Receiving it and sharing it.

Do you need grace? Give it.

I can think back on those I have hurt and I praise God for the grace they’ve shown me after the fact, I knew I needed it and that they didn’t have to give it. But, oh the sweet picture of Jesus we get to see when they do. It’s truly a gift.

Jesus bled and died for us because of His grace towards us. When we run out, He is our never ending source.

That person that comes to mind, that situation that won’t go away, that conversation that scares you, that hidden struggle….May God grant us the GRACE to forgive, release, lean in, and admit. That all takes a supernatural courage and that comes from His power. The power of grace. It truly is amazing.

But I Thought…

This weekend, Jesus took me to therapy. You know, we can be told something our whole lives and when God brings it front and center, is when it actually sticks.

I’ve been assuming the worst in people…That they don’t care, that they don’t want to help, that they don’t like me, that they don’t approve of me, that they blame me, that they just wish I weren’t there, including the people I love.

Isn’t that a sad state of mind? To assume people are mad or upset before you even know if they are? Why not assume people are fine with you. People are busy with their own lives. That people don’t/can’t know your issue if you haven’t shared it, that they want what’s best for you, that they have their own issues going on, that they are happy when you are, and sad when you are. That their hearts beat in sincerity and compassion. This not only lightens your load, but takes the unnecessary pressure off of them too.

I was also reminded that “how we view people (for the better or for the worse) also shows how we view ourselves.” So, that must mean I’m assuming the worst about myself. How sad! Assuming the worst in people and ourselves is not loving others or ourselves. It’s exactly what the devil wants to cause division before a conflict has even taken place. What an evil trick on his part!

How about we lean on the Lord for strength, wisdom, understanding and start trusting that in ourselves? How about we make decisions based on our worth in Him and lean into the joy and confidence that goes a long with that? He is ever present in our lives and He bestows wisdom when asked.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5 (NIV)

You know what they say happens when we assume?

Image result for what happens when you assume?

How about we assume the best, then when someone has a problem, it can be dealt with appropriately when it arises. This seems simple, but it prevents me from assuming there are a lot more problems than necessary to address and tend to. Let’s take them as they come, not as we assume they are.

Let’s love others by assuming the best about them and love ourselves by thinking the best of ourselves. It’s in people’s weaknesses and frustrations that they need love the most, it’s the same with ourselves. We need to love ourselves through a hard day, the hard stuff. Consider God’s open arms of grace when we blow it. Because we need love too. We all do.

He is BIGGER…

Jesus is bigger. He’s bigger than the church pew you just sat in. He’s bigger than the separation with our kids. He’s bigger than the guilt we carry.

He’s bigger than your divorce. He’s bigger than the sermon you just listened to. He’s bigger than the quote you just shared. He’s bigger than the diagnosis you just received. He’s bigger than differences in theology. He’s bigger than the school you attend. He’s bigger than our mistakes.

He’s bigger than the foods we eat. He’s bigger than the feelings we have. He’s bigger than the words that we write or say. He’s bigger than our intentions. He’s bigger than our fears. He’s bigger than the devil.

Claiming the Name of Jesus is the biggest thing we can do and best choice we can make. When we are overcome with joy, in the depths of despair, when sadness washes over us, when misunderstandings run rampant. Claim His Name.

If there’s TWO things I pray my girls see and remember in me, it’s the grace and love of Jesus. What more can I give?

More of You, Jesus. Less of me.

For YOU know better than I….