When Words Fail…

I’m a writer, so I obviously love words. I share them and sometimes they flow…But, there are also times when words fail me. Expressing appreciation and in the midst of conflict are the two most common times. Multiple times, I’ve caught myself saying, “I know this sounds meager, but thank you.” But, is it really? Because I can also think of times I would have appreciated nothing more than hearing a “thank you” or an “I’m sorry too”. I think most can relate. When words fail, how about getting back to the basics?

I’m sorry & thank you.

On my lunchtime walk today,  I was running these situations through my head. When hearts are hurt and heads are hot, words can go flying. It’s happened to me more than I’d like to admit. Then, I’m at a loss. I’ll bet most of you can relate. We have three choices. Let the relationship suffer and possibly die, stay in conflict, or do our part. May I suggest “I’m sorry”. This doesn’t mean the whole thing was your fault, it means “I’m sorry for my part in it.” How the other person accepts or responds is on them. Most conflicts are two sided. Can we just say “I’m sorry”. And, “What can I do differently here?”

When expressing gratitude for love given, lives shared, or deeds done, words fail me. I feel I could go on and on and on and it’s just not enough. So….”Thank you” will have to suffice. I can think of a few instances where I’ve gone above and beyond for someone who hasn’t done the same for me, and not even a “thank you” followed.

I remember thinking, “Man, not even a thank you!” How simple is that? Are they thankful at all or do they just not know that they should say it? We don’t know, so it leaves us feeling taken advantage of. Thank yous matter…they should be shared and not taken for granted. Thank a person. It’s the least you can do and honestly the most you can do for something they’ve given or done for you. Anything. Be it forgiveness, a listening ear, a hug, and ride, a sweet note, met you halfway, fed you.

As parents, we often say to our kids..”What do you say?” When a “Thank you” or an “I’m sorry” is warranted. So, how about as adults, we recognize how powerful these although “simple” phrases really are and what a long way they can go in our adult relationships? In some cases, what more can you say?

When someone shows they love me, I’m thankful. When someone says I’ve hurt them, I’m sorry. When words fly and fail, use them. They may just salvage or cement the relationship. If you truly mean them, you will have done your part in doing so.

 

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Signed, Sealed, Delivered…

God builds us up to send us out.

It’s only in the stories that hurt that we can experience His comfort. Have you ever listened to someone share their story and think “How on earth could someone have to go through that much on this earth”? These are the stories that glorify Him most. Because, “if THEY can lean into God through THAT, surely I should be able to.” He comforts us to send us out and comfort others.

He corrects, teaches, and shares wisdom for our own healing and then to share with our children and others. May we learn something from others so that we don’t have to experience everything first hand.

It’s the hard stuff in our lives that is most likely to impart wisdom or recklessness. Anger can wreak havoc on our lives and loved ones. Are you asking for strength, His power to forgive, wisdom?

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)

That’s a promise! It WILL be given to you.

When we feel the full expression of God’s forgiveness for ourselves, we can’t help but offer it to others. When He corrects us, someone else needs to hear.  When He changes our desires, it’s to align us with His will.  When we choose to love anyway and in spite of, it’s because of Him. If it’s HIS love that helped you, it’s HIS love you will share.

God builds us up to send us out.

The way He has worked in your life, the courage He has summoned in you, the ways He has renewed your mind, the healing from that specific brokenness, the relationships He has replaced, the hearts you can touch, all come from your specific story. Each one of ours is different and I would LOVE to hear yours…

He meets us right where we are so that we can assure the next person that He will too. Our God LONGS for us.

He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. 2 Corinthians 1:4 (MSG)

In each of your hard places, God has a special purpose. When our faith is tested, it is also strengthened. And, it is strengthened for a reason. Through Christ, we could be used to break a generational cycle, reach others across the globe, touch a heart across the cubicle or our own table, raise a warrior for Christ…all and only through Him. (Philippians 4:13) Who knows how He’ll use you?  That’s part of the adventure. No matter what, giving Him the glory, regardless of the outcome, turns our ashes to beauty.

He doesn’t need us to accomplish His plan, but what an honor to be used in any way, shape, or form for His purposes. This is His desire for us. To turn our lives into living testimonies. Your story may seem too ugly to share, but check your return address…There’s a place with your name on it.

There are many rooms in my Father’s house, and I am going to prepare a place for you. I would not tell you this if it were not so. And after I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to myself, so that you will be where I am. John 14:2-3 (GNT)

Signed with the blood of Jesus, Sealed with His love, and Delivered into His arms…

Painful Dealbreaker

dealbreaker

I find myself on the outskirts of another painful breakup. Another reason dating is hard. Another risk I’ve taken, put my kids in the middle of, and opened myself up to. This is very hard because he was a wonderful boyfriend. He treated me better than I’d been treated before, he respected me, committed to me, and loved me well. Marriage was on the horizon. Yet, here we are…

I go between sad, irritated, and thankful. Sad that it’s over. I miss him. Irritated that it came to this. Yet, thankful it came to a head before a wedding and not after. This didn’t come down to lack of love, rather compatibility. I have no doubt he loved me, all of me. All of me except my faith. That’s what it came down to. My church was our issue. He doesn’t agree with it and I do. The more he searched, the less he did. The more I pray and ask, the more I do.

No church is perfect. They are all set up by and filled with imperfect human beings, but I feel called in to serve and to help, not called out.

Once it finally came out that he wouldn’t/couldn’t marry a person of my denomination, I knew there was a change that needed to take place. Either I leave my church or we part ways. It came down to lack of peace vrs. pain. I knew in my heart, that I would feel a lack of peace walking away from my church.  Leaving would be turning my back to truth I believe in and that I want my daughters to learn as well. I also knew we would both feel pain letting this relationship go. We loved each other, no doubt. Pain doesn’t necessarily mean lack of peace. Peace may lead to pain if it means letting go of something you wanted so badly to work out.

This has been hard for us both. We both want what’s best for each other and I guess it’s not us together. I’ve learned another painful lesson. Two people can love Jesus with all they have, but if other beliefs are polar opposite, it can lead to unrest in a marriage and confusion for the kids. To be equally yoked is more than loving God. To be equally yoked is to be able to have a conversation about core beliefs and nod rather than shake your head. It makes sense to me that if you’re both following God and it’s leading you in different directions, it must be best to let that happen. This narrows the dating pool down even further than age, location, love, and tenderness. And, we all know how hard those are to come by.

I know in my head that I’d rather be single than forsake a faith that I believe in. But, my heart is grieving this loss and I pray that God will heal us both. I want us both ready for the ones He knows will meet our deepest desires in Him.

This is a Test.

tested

We test each other. Our children test us. Our spouses test us. Our coworkers test us. The Lord tests us. Our testing of each other is also being used as a test from God. How did you react to that injustice? How did you react to that set back? We pray for patience and then lose it when it’s required. We pray for blessings and then fail to recognize all the blessings around the one we are specifically praying for. We pray for financial relief, but are careless or stingy with what we do acquire.

My faith has been tested. My motherhood has been tested. My relationships have been tested. And, I wouldn’t want it any other way. In order to be strong, we must get through trials. Tests help us realize what’s worth fighting for. Trials are tests. We pass some, we fail some. But, if we learn and grow, no matter the outcome, we are stronger for the next one that comes along. And, another one will come. Not until we enter those pearly gates, will these tests come to an end.

It helps me to remember that tests are not designed to shame us (as Satan would like us to think), but to point out where we need Jesus most. They keep us humble and strengthen us at the same time. They point us to Jesus and remind us why He died for us. Because, only He could pass every test. Now, our dependence on Him is how we do.

If a relationship fails and reconciliation is not desired by both parties, let it go. You can’t make someone desire a friendship or future with you, nor should you have to. The people meant to be in your life forever, will WANT to be in your life forever. This is a test, this is only a test. Jesus loves you.

If you are in need of work, unhappy with your job, or didn’t get the job you wanted, how do you handle it? Are you looking? Are you doing what you can while you wait? Are you a bitter coworker? The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. This a test, this is only a test. Jesus loves you.

Rejection is one of our most painful tests as humans. Where is your sense of worth? In people? In Jesus? When you lose someone, when your heart breaks, when you need money, when you or someone you love is diagnosed, when your spouse or friend turns their back, when your opinion is deemed worthless or wrong, when your faith is questioned, when you mess up, CLING even tighter to Jesus. Cling tighter to Him than any human being. The loss and rejection is temporary, HE is permanent and never changing. This is why we call Him our Rock. This is a test, this is only a test. Jesus loves you.

God allowed Job to be tested. Satan was convinced that Job only worshipped God because his family and finances were blessed and he had a seemingly “easy” life. God allowed this test. This test broke Job’s heart into a million pieces. He lost his children, his health, his friends, his money….but his response?

Job stood up, tore his robe in grief, and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground and worshiped.  He said,

“Naked I came from my mother,
    and naked I will return.
The Lord has given,
    and the Lord has taken away!
May the name of the Lord be praised.”

Through all this Job did not sin or blame God for doing anything wrong. Job 1:20-22 (GW)

His faith remained.

Tests are hard. They are hard in school and they are hard in life. We have tests for a reason. To find out what we know, what we are made of, what we will fight for, and who we will follow. Praise God for His faithfulness in my feeble attempts and failures. Praise God for the tests that make me realize more and more that I need Him. Praise God for the people who help me study and the people who test me.

For the same exact reason that a marriage becomes stronger when it overcomes tests, our relationship with Jesus becomes more secure through them as well. Satan tempted Job. Satan tempted Jesus. And, Satan tempts us. It’s what he does. He tempts and tries each one of us, with his ultimate goal being for us to curse God in our struggles and turn from him. Hold on to Jesus, dear one, and you will pass the test. Your sinfulness doesn’t discredit you. Jesus died for that. Your loyalty and sole dependence on Jesus gets you the “well done, good and faithful servant” at the end of your days on this earth. Regardless of the specific grade we receive, seeing His sweet face is the ultimate graduation gift after all these tests are over.

I am telling you the truth: those who hear my words and believe in him who sent me have eternal life. They will not be judged, but have already passed from death to life. — Matthew 5:24 (GNT)

 His Face is the A+ and I can’t wait to see it.

What exactly is Godly?

godly

I say I want Godly friendships, a Godly relationship, to be a Godly mother/wife/woman….but, what exactly does that mean? I am consistently reminded that I fall short of “Godly” myself. So, how can I have a Godly relationship when the other half of that relationship is me? I’m starting to realize that to be Godly is to view others as He does. Admitting our imperfections and accepting others. Fessing up when we mess up and leaning hard on Jesus in our weaknesses.

What is a Godly friendship? Does it mean we’re boring and have no fun? No. What it does mean is that we empathize with each other when we hurt, remind each other Whose we are, share joyous occasions, and laugh over the stuff we all have in common. A Godly friendship is a friendship that is anchored in prayer. Not competition. Not fixing each other. Not condemning each other. But, loving each other exactly as we are and where we are….as Jesus does. Celebrating growth and intimacy…..as Jesus does. Covering each other in grace when we fear judgment is what we deserve……like Jesus does. We should walk in the truth of who we are and remind each other when we forget.

What is a Godly romantic relationship? Does it mean it’s easy? No. Does it mean we won’t struggle with the same issues all relationships encounter? No. Does it mean we never disagree? No. What it means to me is that we view each other as God’s special, bought and paid for, son and daughter. How we view each other is different. This is what makes it Godly to me. Neither of us are like God, but look to God for help on how to love each other through whatever we are facing. Looking to God takes our struggles and rather than hardening our hearts, it softens them towards each other. We can be ourselves with each other. We celebrate the joys and recognize what brings the other happiness or frustration and act accordingly. We care about each other’s hearts.

A Godly relationship leads to a Godly marriage. And, having been through what I’ve been through, I would want nothing short of a husband who views me as God’s prized daughter, even at my worst. A treasure. This is what God intends for marriage. For the bride to be cherished. Knowing I am viewed and loved in this way allows me to be me. Open and honest about what bothers me. Which leads to a much healthier relationship.

What is a Godly mother? Is she perfect? No. Does she still have moments she looks back on and cringes? Yes. Biggest frustration being that she doesn’t know when it will happen again….because she knows it will. I’ve been getting more and more honest with my kids about what hurts, what I need from them, what I’ve been through, when I mess up, about my insurmountable need for Jesus in my life. They know that, to me, He comes first. As much as my heart aches when our relationships are strained, I can pour it out to Jesus and He reminds me who I am to Him. That brings me back to them renewed in my identity, regardless of their actions or reactions. I need that. Our kids can hurt us the most because we love them the most. Lean on Jesus when they do. Let Him love on you and build you up. Then, like we all do, head back in and carry on. It takes a love warrior not to throw the towel in sometimes.

Bottom line is we need to be ourselves. We need to be honest. We can’t be cherished for who we are if we aren’t being our true selves. If you have a friend, spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, mother, father, or sibling who loves you for you, prays for you, and views you as God’s special child, you have a Godly relationship. If you view others this way, pray for them, and point them back to the One who loves them most, you are a Godly person. And, I would love to be in relationship with you, which is another reason I share in this way. To relate, to connect with others who love God.

Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights, in whose character there is no change at all. James 1:17

We may feel far from perfect, but we can be the perfect friend (gift) for someone who needs to know they are loved for who they are. Jesus wants us to not only know we are special to Him, but to let others know they are too. In our mess, He asks us to look to Him. In our pain, He asks us to cry to Him. In our joy, He delights in our praise to Him. He loves you with an everlasting love. A love like you’ve never known. A love waiting.

Peace, Be Still.

storms

In the midst of the storm……Jesus was in the back, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him up. They said, “Teacher! Don’t you care if we drown?” He got up and ordered the wind to stop. He said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down. And it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Don’t you have any faith at all yet?” They were terrified. They asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Mark 4:38-41 (NIRV)

Do you ever wonder why He was sleeping? Me too. Didn’t He know they were scared? Why didn’t He come to their rescue before they cried out? I’d be frustrated too! Jesus, You KNEW! Yet, You slept……until I woke You. As a human, He slept. As our Savior, He never does. He slept in peace. He woke in peace. He calmed in peace. He spoke peace. He IS Peace.

I have no idea how many times Jesus has come to my rescue before I even knew I needed Him to, but I have no doubt that He has. I have also cried out to Him many times wondering why He won’t come or “wake up” (like I want Him to). Now, I trust He hears me each time I cry out, but His answer will come when and how He says it will.

In financial storms, can He calm? In relational storms, can He calm? When a friendship falls apart, can He calm? Yes. He is our calm before, during, and after the storm. Cry out and trust that He hears. That is faith. Only through Jesus can we sense peace in the midst of a storm…..and maybe even get some sleep like Jesus did.

Let’s remember that in His humanness, He may have slept, but in our humanness we may not. Let the sleepless nights and anxious days be a powerful and prayerful reunion with Him. May His Presence alone bring you the peace you crave. He is mighty. He is personal. He is with you.

What Does That Mean??

god is for us

Romans 8:31 says “If God is for us, who can be against us?” I’ve been pondering what this verse means lately and this is what I feel God has spoken to my heart about it.

People and things do come against us in this life. There will be times we have trouble and there will be times when we fail. There will be times we cause problems and times we are affected by others problems and actions. There will be innocent victims and there will be times we flat out rebel against what we know we “should” do.

But, what I’ve received lately about this particular text, is that if we look for a solution to our specific issue or emotions in His Word, He will show it to us. And when we choose to do what He says, it is in our best interest. He doesn’t ask us to do anything out of any reason but love. Because He IS love. Any command He gives, is given for our protection and healing. In other words, He is FOR us, not against us, not fighting us, not preventing joy, but promoting it.

His love covers us when we fail and convicts us to full repentance. This is where change comes in. Full repentance leads to us doing things differently because we actually believe He has forgiven us and we don’t want to hurt his heart by turning back to what He’s revealed as hurtful. Pleasing God is recognizing His love for us and acting accordingly. Recognizing His love enough to make us think twice before turning back to what was hurting us. When we hurt ourselves that also hurts Him. He longs to protect and deliver us from what we look to for comfort and security and point us back to Him. He is a jealous God. He is jealous for us. He longs to be our first love, because He is. He loved us first and He loves us most.

When we are hurt by someone, He asks us to forgive for our own benefit and healing. Leaving the offense with Him and moving forward leads to the abundant life that He promises. Living without forgiveness bonds us to pain, anger, and bitterness that He died to save us from. He asks us to guard our hearts, not to prevent love, but to protect them from the counterfeit. To wait and seek His face and His love in the other person because only then can we know that the person knows what real love is and where it’s found. He asks us to tithe so that we learn to trust Him. He doesn’t need the money, but He does know we struggle with trust. He also knows that the stingier we are, the stingier we become. Giving with a cheerful heart is very good medicine to our selfish and scared hearts.

A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. John 10:10 (HSCB)

Doing what He asks us to do, is for our own good. He isn’t out to kill our good time, take all our money, or prevent us from having relationships. He is all for developing our character, growing our faith, and providing healthy relationships. He is all about coming first in our lives and when we truly make Him #1, He promises us an abundant life. An abundant life is a life full of joy and peace that can only come from Him.

Is following Jesus easy? No. Is it worth it? Completely. Because He is FOR us. The enemy is against us.