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30 Days of Thankfulness- Day 8

10 Nov

Day 8- Today  I am thankful for: The important lessons I learn from my kids

I love this child of mine! This was a conversation we had the other night while she was at her dad’s house and as her mom, I can appreciate where her heart was when she wrote it.

School has never come easy to Bre. Ever since she was little, she has had to work harder than most to pass tests, ace quizzes and keep a GPA higher than a 3.0. As a mom, it is never easy to sit back and watch your child struggle. On occasion, I have cried with her as she sat at the kitchen table with her pile of homework so frustrated and ready to give up.

I am very sensitive to this issue and I have always made it a point that Bre knows that I am not AS concerned with the grade itself, as I am the effort put forth into getting the grade. See, I grew up in a house with a father who could not read or write and a sister who had severe dyslexia. I watched both of their struggles and although school and learning came very easy to me, I know that it does not for many. My parents made it very clear that if my sister and I were trying our very best, studying, paying attention in class, doing all that we could, within our ability, that was what mattered. It was a valuable lesson that I have carried into my own parenting.

So last night, we all gathered around the fireplace in our home and with dimmed lights and “Disco Inferno” playing in the background, Bre took each test and or quiz that she felt made her a “failure,” and watched it go up in flames. As we sat there I made it very clear to both my girls that grades do not define success or failure; their attitude and character does. By burning those pieces of paper, she was letting go of what she felt made her dumb and stupid and was going to start over with a new attitude and outlook. She was going to meet with her teachers and come up with ways to help her feel better about taking tests and she was going to give it ALL she’s got.

I love that this lesson is not just for an 8th grader, but for her 35-year-old mom too. So many times, I’ve put my value and worth in what I have on my resume, only to realize later, that is NOT what defines me. My heart, morals and character do.There are so many “things” I fail at, but I cannot let those failures get in the way of what I want to accomplish on this earth. I have to press forward, doing the very best that I can, knowing that mistakes are simply lessons in disguise.

“If you’re doing your best, you won’t have any time to worry about failure.”

30 Days of Thankfulness- Day 7

8 Nov

Day 7- Today I am thankful for … God’s sense of humor… and Amazing Grace.

I hopped on my treadmill this evening and did what I always do… Crank up the speed, turned on a message from my favorite, Matt Chandler, and immediately started laughing. The title of the message was “Revenge and Love,” and God knew why I was laughing.

Just this morning I stood in my kitchen pouring my heart out to my sister about a very hard situation I am going through with a person who is causing pain to two very precious people in my life. I was brutally honest with her about how I wanted to go “Dexter style” on this human being. Now, if you don’t know who Dexter is… that is probably a good thing, and please don’t google the show, because you might look at me in a different light after you know…But hear me out. I simply want revenge. I want this person to hurt. I want them to lay in bed at night and ponder the hurtful things they are doing and WHO they are doing them to. I want God to just take them and shake them silly… I want them to suffer. Have you ever been there? Have you ever stood in your kitchen and just cried out for revenge? If you said “No” then you are SO lying 😉

A few days ago, I shared with you why I love my sister and the amazing influence she has had on my life. Well, this morning was no exception. After she “talked me off the ledge” she began to share with me her view on the situation and that my bitterness is only hurting everyone involved, even the ones that I am trying to protect. She reminded me that I am called to be different and that it was not that long ago, when I was the one, needing grace NOT revenge. With each word, my heart began to soften and I started to feel convicted. She was right. If not for God’s amazing grace and second chances, I would NOT be where I am. I am called to love my enemies. Even if the feelings are not there… I have to start somewhere.

All afternoon I ponder her words. I shared my feelings with the Lord and asked that He would soften my heart and let me see this person the way he does. I asked Him to help me and show me what I can do differently. It did not take Him long to answer… “Revenge and Love” came on and that is why I said I am thankful for God’s sense of humor! Here is what Matt had to say (or God through Matt… to my ears)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you maybe sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48

“What Jesus has just demanded of his people (remember, this is a superseding righteousness that Christ is creating in our hearts) is that we would love our enemies and pray for them. He even says there is a reward for loving your enemies and praying for your enemies that is not present when you love those who love you. If you love somebody who loves you, there is reciprocity there. Are you tracking me? There is no reward. They love you; you love them. How easy is that? But if you love those who hate you, if you love your enemies, then the reward that is… don’t lose me here… possible is that you might bring peace to where there is strife and you might see an enemy come under the same saving grace you were able to come under.”

Yes, I laughed out loud. Then as he went on, I got mad, I growled and almost spit… then I cried. I got it. I knew that God was showing me something pretty big. I have been so focused on ME, and what I want done to this person, that I have conveniently forgotten what was DONE for ME. I was given grace and forgiveness by a God to whom I was once an enemy. Then I stopped and thought … How can I love this enemy of mine in a way that is good for them, helpful for them, and in the end gives the best opportunity for them to sense, see, and enjoy the grace that has been so richly lavished upon me?

Although I don’t have all the answers to those questions I DO know that the grace I have been given, I did not deserve. And that alone is humbling and makes me stop and say, “Okay God, your grace is AMAZING, I am not, and thanks for having a sense of humor. Appreciate that.”

I have changed my prayer for this person moving forward, but I have asked that God will not just change them, but change ME. That he will transform this revengeful heart to one that loves and see’s the good, just like he did with me.

Many Blessings ~ Summer

I’m Not Waving; I’m Drowning

20 Sep

“I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.”

These are the words of a British Poet named Stevie Smith. Her most famous poem lent its title to a collection she published in 1957, simply tilted “Not Waving but Drowning.”

Her brief, twelve-line poem pictures a dying man thrashing about in the surf, gesturing wildly, yet unable to attract the help of people passing by on the shore. The passersby see him, but they think he is waving. Some walk on, and some even wave back… leaving him to drown.

Have you ever been there in your life? I sure have and more than once. I recall a very specific time where my arms were flailing all around and people would nod and wave because that is what they thought they saw me doing, little did they know, I was not waving; I was drowning and about to go completely under.

The funny thing is that a wave does not always mean that someone is saying,”Hello” sometimes it means they are saying,”Help.”This was my reality when my entire world was crumbling right before my eyes. All the things that I thought had value or gave me value, had disappeared and I was left with a brokenness that made every part of my being ache.

I don’t think people knew how bad off I was. I think that I had become so good at wearing “masks” to cover the “real” me, that when I wanted someone to see my wave as a cry for help, they saw a hello.

But, God saw me. He saw me struggling to keep my head above the water. He saw the turmoil in the very pit of my soul. He saw the pain, emptiness and very deep-rooted wounds that had created such brokenness.

In this book, the author talks about a gift that her son gave her one year for her birthday. He saw an advertisement in a magazine for a stepping stone kit. In the magazine they showed a picture of the finished product and it was beautiful. The boy was very disappointed when the kit arrived and inside was, as he described, “A box of broken things.” His father had to explain to him that he would use the pieces to create his own pattern and make a unique, one-of-a-kind gift for his mom. Once he understood this, he went to work, and she said that stepping stone was perfect. All the pieces were arranged in the very order he had placed them, and what she loved most was that he had scribbled in the concrete, “I love you, Mom” with his finger. That special stepping stone is in her back yard and every morning when she goes outside to drink her coffee, she sees that stone… that gift, that means so much to her, but was once just “a box of broken things.”

I believe that God sees our brokenness… but also sees the final product, what only HE can make from that it. When we come to him in pieces, lost and needing to be “repaired,” He gets to work. He begins to strategically place all the pieces of our brokenness and make something that becomes a unique, one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

I love Isaiah 43:19, which says:

See, I am doing a new thing!

Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

So many times we feel like we are going to drown but that is because we are too busy looking behind us, and not ahead. We let our past become the focus of our future. You cannot drive a car if you are looking in the rearview mirror. You have to look through the windshield, and I truly believe there is a reason the windshield is MUCH bigger than the rearview mirror. That mirror has been strategically placed over the windshield so our eyes can catch a glance of what is behind us, before we return our gaze on what is ahead of us.

I am so thankful for the redemption I found in the cross. Without the cross, and what Jesus did on it, I am a HOT MESS. I believe with all that I am, God is asking us to leave everything behind, and follow Him, because he has something brand-new in store of each of us, just as he promised in Isaiah. He knows if we are waving “Hello” or “Help.”

So in closing, I pray that if look at the state of your life right now as “a box of broken things,” that you will make a decision to not let it stay that way. I am so glad that I finally gave up and surrendered everything to the Lord. I allowed Him to grab my hand, and drag me to the shore.

I am looking forward to Chapter 2… The title alone already has me excited and I pray that each of these entries will encourage you, just as they are me!

So, until tomorrow… Many Blessings~ Summer

God loves broken people (and those who pretend they’re not)

19 Sep

Yesterday was the kick off for the fall session of “Women of Faith,”  which is a women’s Bible study group at my church.

Last week, after not really being sure which study I wanted to do, I ended up choosing,“God loves broken people. (And those who pretend they’re not.) I think it was the title that caught my attention, but it was the description of the book and study that kept it.

If there is one word I use to describe my past, it is BROKEN.

Many of you reading this know my story, but for those of you who don’t, let me just say that is by God’s grace and mercy that I am here today.

As I was outside this morning, sipping on my extra strong coffee, and reading through chapter 1 of this book, I decided that I would blog as I go through this study. In the first chapter alone, I think I had 5 “Ahh haaa” moments. I can already tell that this book, is exactly what I need and I know God is going to continue to restore this once very broken life.

So, later this evening, when the babies go down for the count, I will begin writing about this journey I am on. I will go chapter by chapter and pray that God uses it to help you, no matter where you are in life, or how “unbroken” you think you are! 😉

Eeekkk, okay, I am excited. Now, time to get in “mommy” mode and feed the girls lunch!

Until tonight, have a great day!!!

Many Blessings~ Summer

Choosing a love that lasts!

30 Aug

I was sitting in the waiting room of my doctor’s office this morning, when I spotted the cutest couple I have ever seen. They were sitting across for me holding hands as they both read different magazines. The lady looked up and sweetly smiled at me and said hello. I said hello back and somehow we started talking. After a few minutes I asked them how long they have been married. The gentlemen, smiled, squeezed his wife’s hand and said, “We are newlyweds, of 62 years.” My heart melted. Then he said, “My bride is more beautiful today than the day I married her.” Okay seriously, can you get any more adorable? No, I didn’t think so. I am pretty sure the receptionist and I swooned at the same time. I knew the nurse was probably going to call them soon, so I had to ask what their secret was. How have they made it last for 62 years? The man looked at me and said, “Everyday I wake up, I chose to love my wife. When we have a bad day, I choose to love her. When we have a good day, I choose to love her” And then the best of all…”Even when she burns my supper, I chose to love her.” 

I left the doctor’s office, thankful I had met that couple and even though our paths may never cross again, what he said to me will not be forgotten. Love is a choice. The Bible’s premier “love” passage or very definition of love is found in I Corinthians 13 :4-8, it says; “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.” I love that in this  description Jesus gave of what love is and what it’s not, everything requires action.

For many years I viewed love as an emotion or a feeling you have for someone else, but now that I am married, I realize that emotions are not something to base a marriage on, but simply something to start a marriage with. Marriage is hard work and if you are relying on the emotional connection with someone to carry you through for the rest of your life (like I once was) you will quickly be disappointed. Because the very definition of love is not an emotion. It requires action and actions are a direct result of… choices.

I think this sweet little man understood this. He knew that life was going to be good and it was also going to be bad. He knew that some days his wife would make the best dinner and other days she would burn it, but most of all he knew that in order to make it through those times, he was going to have to wake up every morning and choose to love her, even when he didn’t feel like it. I love their story and what’s great is that this can be our story too. If we simply choose to love our spouse no matter what, we will be able to sit and after 62 years of marriage tell someone of a younger generation… this is how to make love last.

Blessings~ Summer

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