Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Tight Wire

How do you teach your children to give grace to others even if you might not approve of it? We are dealing with a difficult child in Ben’s class, let’s call him Bob. Due to the blog being private, I feel the freedom to discuss this! Well Bob is the worst kid in class. Honestly. No joke. I’ve met the parents too, and know that he isn’t a necessarily a bad kid, but is being raised in a VERY different manner. Think of telling his mom to “shut-up”, lots of constant drama, name calling and unkind words being spread all around.

In addition, Bob has no friends. Every day when Ben gets out of the car I tell him, “Be Brave. Be Kind. You can do hard things baby.” We talk about loving on others, seeking out people who need his love in the day. Ben tries to look for ways to help others. He tries to love on everyone. You know what’s coming, Bob considers Ben “one of his bros”. And to top it off, Bob is teaching Ben things we don't approve of. Yesterday Ben came home so down that I was worried. Turn's out Ben got blamed for Bob's bad behavior.

Here’s the question….how do you teach compassion and grace, but with reservations? My logical side would say leave Bob alone. You don’t need to be associated with him. We don’t want Bob to rub off on you. And we definitely don’t want to be guilty by association. Be nice, but not too nice.

The heart side of me says, go for it Benno! Love with all your might baby! Be Bob’s friend, but don’t lose yourself. Give Bob mercy. Befriend him and love him. Show Bob the light of Jesus!

Neither is right or wrong. In the book of Matthew, one main theme is that whoever is first on earth will be last in heaven, and that children have their very own angels and belong to Kingdom of Heaven. Thus, based on biblical teachings, I would tell Benno to love away. Get after it. But, the catch in my mom brain, once again comes down to releasing control, do I trust? I find myself high on a trapeze wire most of the time….balancing this world and the Godly kingdom. I want to protect my children, keep them safe, unharmed, away from danger and bad people, but that isn’t what the bible tells me to do. The bible calls me to trust God first.

There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you. James 2:13

So, I will continue on the tight wire, trying to walk my way through this world until I get to the other side of heaven.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Guest Post: Grace by Katie

Hello Annie's blog world! I'm so honored to get to post on one of my most favorite peep's internet home. A little background info on me and Annie....she and I go waaaaay back to meeting at the ripe ole age of 20 or so. Our now hubbies grew up together and lived together in college, so when we both became smitten with our boys and started dating them and hanging out at their college abode (which was dis-gust-ing may I add....think smelly smells mixed with large bugs mixed with "men" who loved Playstation way more than cleaning) Annie and I were introduced. It is a friendship that has grown slowly, steadily and beautifully over the years.

But there's one thing you should probably know about me and my Annie Bananie. On the outside....we are extremely different. Think night and day. A few examples:

I love sports. Annie loves art.

The best way for me to decompress is to run. Like Forrest Gump....just start running and stop once the yuck of the day is out. I'm pretty sure heaven is going to have continuous games of kickball and ultimate frisbee. Annie affectionately calls me Sporty Spice. I call her Artsy Spice. She has these wicked cool genes that naturally know how to design and create and can put things together in a house that look ah-ma-zing. It baffles me. When we were in college, she use to paint these pictures and sell them in coffee shops or random "fun" stores. I don't think I even knew where to buy paint nor did I know that coffee shops existed until she told me about these places. She helps me decorate my house. It's like one of the best gifts ever when I watch her work because in my head all I think is "-----------." Nothing. I don't get it. She's banned me from buying any more picture frames. My idea of decorating is to slap up a picture of my children laughing or a quote on the wall. She cut me off from any frame aisles. What else is there?? I don't even know.

I could go on and on, but I'll just list a few other tidbits about me and my girl. I love anything sweet. She loves anything salty. I have three girls. She has two boys. It takes a lot to make me cry. Not so much for my lady. One time she saw my closet...and made me go shopping after she lifted her jaw off the ground due to the lack of clothing. I now send her pictures from changing rooms because my head cannot tell the difference between an "old lady" outfit versus "it's actually in style." She takes pictures of outfits in stores and sends them to me. Love her. She can sense things. I am a think think thinker. She sends me pictures of artsy things to buy my oldest daughter, who also has this creative gene.

We may be different, but we are stinking crazy similar in a few ways. We both LOVE Jesus. We both are in the process of learning more and more and more about His unconditional love and grace for us and we've walked it together. We both LOVE our families. Marriage, our husbands, our kids….love, love, and love even though it can be tough, tough, and tough. We both LOVE each other. We know each other is not perfect. We don't expect it. We try to offer communication and grace first to each other and give each other the benefit of the doubt. We have each other's back. I have one particular time in mind when I was struggling with life. I have a "little" pride issue and do not like to ask for help. She sensed it and just showed up in my life for a few days. Just....showed....up. We want the best for each other in our own lives and when we are together we laugh. A LOT. She's good for my soul.

I promise this isn't a post only about me and Annie. It's a post about one of our favorite things.....grace. Ahhhhh.....grace.

My man and I have been blessed with three daughters. They are all so very different from each other. When I was pregnant with my third (she's now 5. Halt...how is my baby 5? This is baffling.), we considered the name Grace. My husband ultimately nixed it as a first, so we shifted it to the middle. I loved the way it sounded. I loved the meaning behind it. Funny thing is.....I had no idea how much I would use her name on a daily basis in my head.

Grace--kindness from God we don't deserve. Unmerited favor. We haven't done anything to earn it. It is a gift.

Sounds so easy, right? Who doesn't love a gift??? Who doesn't love a FREE gift?? And one we have to do NOTHING to earn it, just accept it.

Then WHY is it a term that I struggle with so very much in my own life?

I didn't realize I struggled with it until the last two years or so. Decisions have been made in my life. I've suffered from regret (such an ugly word). I've even experienced regret's best friend....shame. It's heavy. It's debilitating. It's overwhelming. It's awful. Have any of you felt this yuckiness? In fact, I've typed the word "yuckiness" four times and my computer tries to turn it into "luckiness." Oh no Mr. Computer....there is nothing lucky about regret and shame.

I've known about the word "grace" for a long time. To me, it's positive and light-hearted and puppies and kisses, etc. Until....I needed to apply it to myself. It's something I have no problem extending to others. You messed up? No biggie. GOD FORGIVES YOU. GOD LOVES YOU. You messed up AGAIN? Noooo problem again! Let me tell you about grace. You should receive it. It's the gift our Father gives over and over again.

But when it comes to me? When it comes to telling myself that it's ok that I mess up too and that God loves me unconditionally too....it just isn't as easy to accept. I tend to be the champion boxer....IN MY HEAD. I can beat myself up like no other. I'm a work in progress. Anyone else out there feel this way ever? Why can I extend it to anyone else, yet it's so hard to apply to myself?

Last Sunday in church, our pastor preached about Luke 7: 36-50. If you haven't read it, I ENCOURAGE you to do so. If you have, read it AGAIN. It is GOOD NEWS. It's about screwed up people. In fact, one of the main characters is a woman who has a really dark past....most likely prostitution. I kind of love that her dark past isn't specifically revealed though. It keeps us from thinking that a dark past has to be one thing....it could be anything. She had been introduced to the twins, Regret and Shame, in her life too. Yet, instead of keeping her pain in, she ran to Jesus. She cried to Him. She spilled her tears onto Him. You know what he told her in the last verse? "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

Peace...in the Old Testament it means "completeness", "soundness", "well-being."

To be restored and to be complete again. To kick off the weights on our shoulders. To be WELL. Jesus paid it all. He WANTS us to have faith in Him so that we may experience peace.

I am praying that I can accept God's grace in my life. And I'm going to pray that if you suffer from that yucky burden like I do at times, that you, too, will have faith in Jesus, so you can experience peace too.

And, I'm praying that you have an Annie in your life. This world is too tough to make it on our own. We need friends to remind us about grace when we cannot accept it ourselves. A....even though I'm never going to spray paint stuff gold like you do and make it look awesome in my house, thank you for showing me grace when I fall short. Love you and your blog girlie.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Altercations

Something occurred this weekend that got all my feathers ruffled. To boot that, I have been bombarded with confrontation over and over again in the last month. Don’t you just hate it when God consistently puts things in your path to grow?? I want to shout to the heavens….”Just tell me already what you want from me! What do you want me to learn? Can we just get it over with! Why-oh-why do I have to work so stinking hard for it? Can anything be easy?”

Here’s the question I pose to you. When do you confront someone and when to let it go? How do you lovingly approach confrontation? When is it appropriate to give grace and roll with it, and when do you rise to the conflict and face it head on?

In all my brewing around, I wanted to know how did Jesus tend to these issues?

Isn’t it funny how God is in the little, bitty, details? I just finished this chapter in bible study- “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” Matthew 18: 15-17

I loved that Jesus says, 1) Go address it, one on one. If it doesn’t work then 2) take someone with you. If that doesn’t work, then 3) take it to the church. Lastly, in the last part of the scripture, “let him be as a Gentile or tax collector”-Jesus LOVED Gentiles and tax collectors and gave them much grace.

In each situation, I try to do a gut check. Feel where the Holy Spirit is. Check myself. Am I completely in the wrong? If so, apologize and make it right. Am I in the right and the other person wrong? If so, then how should I proceed? Sometimes a confrontation is necessary, and other times not.

I’ve gathered this-there is no black and white answer. The Spirit is the only think I can rely on. I cannot rely on my emotions…for they will deceive me. I cannot rely on other’s opinions….for they will deceive me as well.

As I left Old Navy the other night, I saw a woman with four or five children. She grabbed her 18 month (or so) little girl and yanked her outside. She proceeded to spew profanity at her. Including beating the s*** out of her if she didn’t f***ing stop G** da** it. The little girl had taken her shoes off in the store.

I quickly walked to my car. And cried. Sobbed actually. I wasn’t sure how to proceed. I prayed. This mom was of another ethnicity than myself, which I always worry that someone will look at me outsides (and not my heart) and judge that I am only a white, rich, woman. I sat and prayed. I got in my car to drive home, and made an immediate U turn. The holy spirit told me to go back and look for her. I was terrified. I thought…I’m going to end up on the news getting beaten up. Yet, I couldn’t find her.

I think the God wanted to see if I would move. I might argue with Him, but yes, I will move. There are no boundaries to how the Spirit can use you. You are a vessel at all times. In that moment, at first I sobbed over the child. I prayed that Jesus send His angels to her for protection. And then, my perspective shifted. I realized, I should be praying for the mom’s soul. How broken she must be. How tired and worn. How she needs grace so badly. I do not need to judge her. God reminded me that “indeed we all make mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.” James 3:2 I’m figuring out confrontation, one day at a time, one interaction at a time. Wish me luck. I will need it.

Taking Inventory

Making: lots of legos. I’ve been announced the queen.
Cooking: cleaner and cleaner
Drinking: too much coffee and green smoothies
Reading: Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist
Wanting: a hammock and new Birkenstocks for the summer
Looking: at paint colors for a new home
Playing: Battleship and memory
Wasting: time watching breaking bad or on pinterest
Wishing: I could stop time with my dudes
Enjoying: gin and tonics in the late evenings
Waiting: to close on a home and get this party started!
Liking: that summer is almost here. No more school!
Wondering: if I will be able to get a sold out ticket to next years Hope Spoken conference.
Loving: all things gold
Hoping: that my large fever blister will go away shortly.
Marveling: in the fact of how blessed I am every.single.day.
Needing: to figure out the next few months out in my family’s schedule
Smelling: my coffee with amaretto creamer
Wearing: White pants and a grey tee
Following: lots of new people on instagram and getting motivated
Noticing: Spring is everywhere, and summer is on the cusp.
Knowing: That God is so very good to me
Thinking: I should probably exercise more and join a gym.
Feeling: Good today. Like I can conquer the world!
Bookmarking: kitchen redo ideas
Opening: Lots of amazon packages-mama got paid and books are arriving!
Giggling: At Mr. Underpants Man in our house.
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