Why It’s Important To Forgive, Even When…We Don’t Want To

I can almost hear the sighs of exasperation. You are probably thinking to yourself, “seriously, she’s going to talk to me today about forgiveness? She has no idea what I am going through, what’s been done, what’s been said or how far off track things have gotten lately.” You know what, you are absolutely right! I don’t know what you are going through or have been through. I don’t know how bad it is gotten in your world lately, nor do I need to because I can tell you this, it has been a doozy of a run in my world too. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure I have stamped my foot (a lot here lately) and cried out to God that this just isn’t “fair”. This is just as hard for me to write as it is for you to read because I have been wrestling with God over this one and here’s what I’ve come up with. but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:15 ESV (underscoring mine) But. I never thought about it that way. But..if you do not, neither will your Father. But…I don’t want to. I still hurt from it. Oh my friend, you have no idea how much this pains me to write, but here it goes…we need to forgive much because we have been forgiven much. There, I said it. This is not to say that you agree with what has happened, but that you are cancelling that debt against you. When we hold on to that anger, resentment,...

Be quiet, my big, fat mouth

It happened again: a wonderful opportunity for me to say what I felt. What I really WANTED to say, what was boiling up inside of me. It even NEEDED to be said — or so I thought. We have all been in similar situations: someone, your equal, whether on the job, in the family, the church, neighborhood, school, etc., approaches you and proceeds to dress you down in front of others when it is not their place to do so. Not only that, you have not done anything wrong whatsoever. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. They just feel it is their responsibility to be the boss or overseer, even though they do not retain the title, and want things done a certain way…their way. This is the place I found myself a few weeks ago. I stood there and listened, admittedly my blood pressure rising faster than flood waters, but I listened. Finally, I gently interjected that I had done what was required, expected, and in the best interest of others, but that only invited more tongue-lashing. I did not retaliate, but walked away, only by the grace of God. But as soon as I got in my car, away from others, I called The Sweetheart. "You won't believe…..!" And I unloaded all my frustration on him. He listened, even agreed with me that I was in the "right", and by the time I arrived home, I was somewhat calmed down. What bothered me was that I would have to face this person the next day. Many would tell me to stand up for myself, and there would not have been...

Should You Quit Social Media?

I want to quit Facebook. Can I do that? My friend’s question was in response to the frustration of scrolling through her news feed and finding vague accusations and threats, gossip, and one-sided claims that blatantly disrespected people. And…all those posts were by Christians. Can you quit Facebook? Yes, you can. Should you? I don’t know. Sometimes we feel victimized by social media, and we get frustrated, but what about the positive influences? What about the encouragement we give and receive? What about the support (the healthy kind, not the “I’m going to jump on your bandwagon and say, ‘You go, girl’ when I should actually be telling you, ‘Whoa! Take a breath and calm down.'”)? What about the opportunities to reach out to and catch up with people (again, healthy connections)? Just like you have choices about who you hang out with on the weekend or who you call when you have a crisis or need an ear to listen, you have choices about social media. You decide how often you check social media. You decide who you connect with. You decide what you look at the most, which determines, to some degree, what floats to the top of your news feed. You decide what to post and how to engage others. Maybe God is leading you away from social media. And maybe He’s leading you to be more discerning. Apply some of the same lessons to your faith. You might complain about your church or specific people in it. You might get into inappropriate conversations with people, ask for affirmation when you really need accountability, or work...

Staying Focused {As Your World Spins Around}

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Isaiah 26:3 The ballerina’s elegant figure twirled around the stage with incredible ease. The Rio de Janeiro Ballet Company had come to town, and my parents bought tickets to take their aspiring ballerina to watch their performance. As a young girl, I remember watching her in awe, while dreaming of the day when I would be able to have the same technique and grace to become a Prima ballerina. Oh, the spinning! That was my favorite. To be able to twirl around on my tiptoes for minutes, without losing my balance. That, to my young mind, was the pinnacle of ballet perfection. And I failed. Every time I tried. I’d spin once around, maybe twice, and then, boom! I’d lose balance and trip or fall. My French ballet instructor never took the time to teach me the secret of the perfect pirouette. She was too busy helping the girls who ‘had what it takes.’ And I certainly wasn’t on that list. If I couldn’t master a pirouette, I could not become a ballerina. Thus my dream was shattered. The Secret It took me several decades to learn the secret of the technique. It was my older daughter who taught me. She had been taking dance for a while and came home very excited one day, eager to show me how she had mastered the perfect pirouette. She straightened her posture, started a plié and whoosh! Beaming with pride, she smiled while turning 360 degrees several times before finally losing balance. “Ooops. I...

Moms, Do You Ever Feel Locked in Instant Replay Mode

“How many times must I tell you …” Parenting would be so much easier if only we all had recording devices we could play back at will. When a behavior arises, simply fast forward to the appropriate statement, point the device at the infracting child, and hit play. Then walk away, problem solved. Imagine how peaceful our summers could be! Although I doubt that’d be effective. Shoes would still clutter the hallway and bedrooms would still look like someone swept through with a leaf blower. Because words by themselves are just that–words, and no child goes from toddler to adult overnight. In parenting, the key is to focus on progress not perfection, blanketed with equal amounts of patience, training, consistency, and accountability. Develop patience Children don’t learn overnight, and often, every step forward is accompanied with half a step, and sometimes an entire leap, backwards. But then again, isn’t that how it is with each of us? Habits, wisdom, and integrity take time to develop.  Our child may need to hear, “Put your plate away” twenty times before they begin to think of it on their own, then learn to follow through. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re being defiant. It simply means they need to be reminded. A lot. Until that behavior becomes habit (then you can begin to tackle a new one). Train Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (ESV). In other words, don’t pester, nag, scream at, and belittle. Instead, train. 😉 When our daughter was young, I walked into her room...

Turning What We Think About Submission Right Side Up, Part 5

  Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth. But avoid irreverent, empty speech, for this will produce an even greater measure of godlessness. 2 Timothy 2:15-16 It’s important to know what to say and what not to say. Restraint is as important as boldness. Both require submission and discernment. We need to understand pure submission, so we don’t confuse it with passivity or indifference.  With which do you struggle the most: restraint or boldness? How can submission help? Now every house is built by someone, but the One who built everything is God. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s household, as a testimony to what would be said in the future. But Christ was faithful as a Son over His household. And we are that household if we hold on to the courage and the confidence of our hope. Hebrews 3:4-6 Seeking the definition and purpose of pure submission humbly seeks God’s authority. It is only when we begin to fathom His authority that we understand the purpose of submission. It’s never self-serving. It always keeps God’s purpose and plan at the forefront. Because He is sovereign, truthful, and trustworthy, we can step into submission without fear or hesitation. It is still difficult, as it always is to pry pride and control from our hands, but it is worth the journey and effort. What do you believe about God’s authority, and how have your beliefs changed over time? Have you noticed corresponding changes in your submission and humility? Moses said to...

Agenda Bruising

Luke 10:38-40 38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” I wonder if Martha’s agenda got bruised when Christ called her out in Luke 10. Mine would have, especially if I was “doing” something I thought useful and important while Mary sat star-struck at the Messiah’s feet (I can see Martha’s eyes rolling at Mary). Martha was making things comfortable for her guest. She was doing a good and customary requirement in preparing her home for him. I would guess that her right to exercise the word “but” to the Messiah was invoked: “But, Lord, I’ve worked so hard.” (translation: Lord, my work is just as important as Mary’s attitude) “But, look at me!” (translation: Notice me!) “But, how can what she’s doing be better?” (translation: Lord, I’m jealous that you are interested in her more than me) “But, Lord, I did this so you would notice!” (translation: I need you) There there, Martha. What if deep down you have a need— a need to be noticed in a place where emptiness grows? What if you desire to validate a version of you, without addressing your connectivity issue with a Savior? Mary recognizes her inadequacy because of her awareness that she is...

Assuming the Best

At every moment and with every interaction, we have two choices–we can assume the worst or the best in others. Many times, our assumptions arise instantly, fueling thoughts which trigger emotions, and before we know it, we’ve worked ourselves up in a frenzy based on perception. The problem is, our perception is faulty. Almost every single time. And our faulty perception hurts–ourselves, others, and our relationships. Consider this scenario. I go outside and see trash left on our lawn–like a whole mess of it. Fast food bags; sticky, squished ketchup packets; crushed soda cups, their syrupy contents seeping into the grass. Perhaps a group of teenagers live across from us. Maybe one of those teenagers tends to be quiet, not seen much. Maybe he even dresses … like a teenager. My conclusion? He left the trash. He must be careless, rude: part of the entitled generation. But … what if I had evidence that indicated my husband had left the trash? In that case, an entirely different assumption would begin to unfold in my mind. Because I know my husband to be a man of integrity who is often the first to serve others, I’d assume something must have happened. Either he’d been distracted and had forgotten he left the trash, or he’d been pulled away unexpectedly and intended to return. Completely different scenarios, one heap of trash. Isn’t it interesting how a little bit of background information can drastically change our interpretations of things? The problem is, we rarely have that much knowledge about most of the people we interact with on a daily basis. That’s why we...

The One-Mile Marker. Time to quit!?

Passage: Exodus 9 “‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.” Exodus 6:6 He left the presence of the Lord, repeating the words God had given him several days before. “I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgements”. He hung on to that promise as he got ready to request yet another audience with the King of Egypt. Between you and me – Moses had to be tired of it. When we get to Exodus chapter 9, Israel’s leader had seen God strike Egypt five times with miraculous, awesome wonders, and yet, Pharaoh would not waver.  And although God had told him that He himself would harden Pharaoh’s heart, there’s no doubt that pressing on was a hard thing for Moses to do. How much more, Lord? How much will it take for this hard-headed, prideful king to let your people go? How many more wonders do you have to perform until he finally believes? You know exactly what it will take to break him, and yet, you choose this slow, painful path to set us free. Why? Why? True – I may be stretching Moses’ thoughts a bit, but we know that Israel’s leader at the time had serious issues with unbelief. He questioned God’s sovereignty over and over again, while presenting his excuses to defuse the task of leading the Jews out of slavery (Exodus 4). Surely it was hard to go...

Take the Next Best Step

The opportunity presented itself and I could not refuse. A risk, maybe, but it was one I was willing to take. This was an opportunity to draw closer to seeing dreams become a reality; a risk worth taking. I found myself on stage, sharing with others my heart, my story, and my encouragement for them. The negative voices that had coursed through my mind moments before were silenced. I had done what I was called to do. I had taken the next best step. One step led to a vision coming to fruition. Genesis 12:1-3 speaks of a man who chooses to take the next best step. The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a great nation,     and I will bless you; I will make your name great,     and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you,     and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth     will be blessed through you.”    Abram, who will later be called Abraham, is not told where he is to go, only that he should go. Do you know what I truly love about this? Abram’s response. Verse 4 begins, “So Abram went.” No questions, no prayer meeting, no asking what his mother thought, he went. When God directs our steps, we do not need to question if we are headed in the right direction. We simply need to go. As Abram goes, God shows him a land that will be given to Abram’s offspring. Abram’s...