Monthly archives: April, 2016

The Voice Of Truth

 

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We all have those friends who tell us what we want to hear, whether it’s true or not. They may flatter, agree, affirm, and even encourage what may be a lapse in judgment or an attempt at seeking validation. Perhaps we cling to these words out of desperation; after all, we want to hear what makes us feel good. Sometimes the truth is too painful. Ouch! Yes, the truth can be difficult to hear, but isn’t it freeing?

 

I distinctly remember reaching out to a friend, desperate for help. All I wanted to hear was a checklist of things to do, so that the results I wanted could be assured. Her voice was calm yet firm as she told me the truth that God was in control and to rest in His peace. No checklist was offered. Instead, my soul felt the deep impact of bold truth, even though it was so difficult at the time to wrap my mind around. Because of her truthful declaration to me I felt safe, vulnerable, and encouraged. It was as if God Himself spoke the exact words of truth He wanted me to hear. The truth was heard loud and clear.

 

When we finished our conversation my heart felt lighter because she had loved me by speaking truth to me. I am now more mindful how much sharing truth with others can greatly impact lives. Listen closely to what truths God may be speaking to you while using others to be His voice.


Grace-Filled Candles

 

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He arrived back home around 9:30 in the evening and walked to the front door. Despite all the mixed thoughts, emotions, and fears about what had taken place earlier that night, he knew he had to put his hand on the door handle and go in. His pervading expectation was to see a packed bag, signaling her expectation of them not living in the same house for a while. He thought it strange (and unsafe) when, upon inserting the key and turning, the key had not unlocked the door. It was already unlocked. She had unlocked it first from the inside. Unsure of the meaning of an unlocked front door late in the evening, he opened it. No packed bag could be seen. No angry notes. No yelling or screaming. No disappointing looks. His tear-filled eyes met her grace-filled eyes as she stood there waiting. All around—on shelves, on tables, on counters—countless lit candles provided not only the sole source of light, but an atmosphere of grace matching her eyes. Though they soon wrapped their arms around one another, he certainly could not wrap his mind around what was going on.

 

He had really messed up. And if she really wanted to, she could have had that packed bag ready for him. But instead, she chose forgiveness. She chose the movement towards healing. Undeserved and unexpected, he found it difficult to believe that the record of wrongs was no longer being kept. In its place, even printed out as if to represent its permanency, was the freedom to fail.

 

Moving into the living room, they sat on the couch to talk, cry, and talk some more. They ate some pizza together. Understandably speechless, he had trouble communicating all his thoughts and accepting this precious gift. The candles flickered as her eyes continued to convey grace, forgiveness, and acceptance of him.

 

Years later, his eyes easily fill with tears again. They aren’t the same tears, for the tears of that night are gone, not to be shed again. Today’s tears are different. They are grateful tears and humble tears, signs of his comprehension of what she did for him that night. You see, it’s not hard to recall all these details, for the “he” is me.


Love Is Gentle

 

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It’s happening a lot these days.

 

Turn on the national news and watch the political rallies on both sides of each party and watch people. They’re fighting. They’re yelling. They’re angry. Watch the local news and you’ll hear reports and see unbelievable videos that show aggressive driving is happening more often than not these days. Take a drive down I-4, you’ll experience it for yourself. They’re giving the bird. They’re yelling. They’re angry.

 

Go to a restaurant at lunchtime. No doubt, you’ll overhear co-workers discussing their jobs and bosses as I did just last week. They’re unsatisfied. They’re agitated. They’re angry. Walk down the aisle at Target. You’ll see a parent with kids. The kids are whining. The parent is frustrated…and angry.

 

But, what about you and me? We can totally see how people are easily angered in these different scenarios. What happens when we pause and look in the mirror? I Corinthians 13 says, “Love is not easily angered.” Would those who love you describe you in this way? Honestly.

 

It was a Sunday morning not too long ago when it was time to leave for church and our son, Garrett,  was nowhere to be found. We were running behind (as usual) and I was trying to rally the troops to get out the door. I felt my blood pressure rise as I called him to come downstairs and I didn’t see his face. I came storming around the corner to find him painting a picture. “Seriously!? Painting a picture when it is time to leave…in your “church clothes”, I ranted.” Just then, his tender heart produced some pretty big tears. As I looked at the paper, I noticed what he was painting. He was painting a picture for me with words that said, “I love you, Mom”. Sigh. My heart sank; and I felt like the worst mom ever.

 

That’s certainly not the first or last time I chose to not respond with gentleness; and, I’m guessing you can remember a time or two when you were in a similar situation?  Out of the 14 demands of I Corinthians 13, this just happens to be the one I tend to struggle with the most. If I don’t guard my spirit and keep it in check, I’m easily angered and respond wrong. Feel guilty, promise to do better next time, feel like I’ll never change, and repeat.  Can anyone out there relate?

 

Isn’t that just what the devil wants. For us to feel stuck. Like we have no choice in the matter. It’s the way it will always be. That gentleness will never be our default response. This is so untrue! We have a choice to show love in every encounter. We can choose to, “not give the devil a foothold in our lives” (Ephesians 4:27) by not being easily angered.

 

Several years ago, I was unloading things from our minivan and I neglected to notice I did not put down the trunk before I pulled into our garage. S-c-r-a-p-e.  I dreaded telling, my husband, Jeff. Mostly, because I didn’t want to admit what a stupid thing I had just done. I’ll always remember his response. He smiled and just calmly took care of it. He didn’t make me feel like an idiot. He wasn’t angry. He just loved me with his gentle response.

 

What if, we respond to those we love with this kind of gentleness instead of anger? Think of how loved those around you would feel. What if, we made it our aim to make gentleness our default response this week? Even if we got it right 50% of the time, isn’t that progress in the right direction?

 

Hope to see you on I-4 or in Target this week. Smiling.

 

“My dear brothers and sisters: 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

 

 

 

 

 

 


What If Assists Won Games?

 

WHAT IF ASSISTS WON GAMES-

Pick a sport, any sport. Regardless of the name of the game, the name of the game is the same—scoring. Points. Goals. TDs. The back of the net. I’m familiar with the saying, “defense wins games,” and I know the implication, but there never has and never will be a sports news article announcing a team’s victory with fewer points, but with better defense. Of course, this explains the hyper-focus on the leading scorer. Scoring wins games! (And yes, defense helps, too.) Understandably, others are simply honoring their contribution, but honor isn’t the topic today. Rather, it is selflessness. Today, the spotlight isn’t on the leading scorer. It is on the one with the most assists. Sports analogies abound, but why not add one more to the mix?

In volleyball, they set. In basketball, they pass. In football, they block. And in soccer, they can be seen kicking corners. They’re out there getting the job done, helping the team win, whether recognition comes their way or not. Their thoughts aren’t on themselves scoring. They just want to make a play, so that the team benefits. Yes, scorers receive most of the attention, but start looking for the assists. A perfect-timed block or pass in between defenders is a beautiful thing.

There are not many days I look forward to making the assist in relationships. I am so prone to seek the attention, the spotlight, the interview after the game. On the court, I love making the assist. I have the vision for it. In my marriage, let’s just say my vision of the court and understanding of the plays need a lot of practice and a good coach. We’ve all watched the selfish athletes competing on a team. They stand out, and not in a good way. The team may win, but the team doesn’t win. Likewise, with selfish thinking and selfish living, something may be accomplished or completed, but the relationship loses (James 3:16).

Your team doesn’t just want to win, they need to win. Is it your family? Your neighborhood? Your church? You have possession of the ball. The play has been called. Make the assist. The team will win.