Wednesday, February 18, 2015

saying no, self-control, and joy



i have missed writing here - so many times this has been an outlet for me both as a ministry to others and as a chance to express myself. i had a few moment this morning, so here are some thoughts i have been having in no particular order... 

1. saying no - right now is a time of my life when i am throwing myself into my life that is right before me. i am not able to add a lot to it in writing or in taking on new commitments. i am learning how to say no. i am learning that it is okay, not only okay but really really good, to say no. saying no means i can say yes with a whole heart to the things He has asked me to say yes to right now. i am learning that saying no doesn't mean it will be no forever. i think a lot of times i am hesitant to make decisions because i feel like i am locking myself into a forever commitment to either do or not do something; however, this just isn't the case on most things of life. we follow His lead and He leads us day by day.

2. self-control of what comes out of our mouths (and our fingers) - it is an interesting time we live in where so much of our communication happens online via a screen that we can hide behind instead on face to face like most communication has traditionally taken place. my dad was a communications professor at a local university, so i would say i have some well grounded thoughts on communication. i find it interesting that so many people feel so much liberty in what they say in an online setting that they may never say to someone's face. i find it interesting that so much of our communication in these settings lacks the non-verbal communication elements that they say make up 80% or more of communication. i find it very interesting, interesting and sad, that people, especially believers, type out statuses and comments on forums like facebook that insult other people for choices they make in life with demeaning language and haughty speech and words (and this is often on non-sin issues... i am not talking about taking a stand for righteousness). there are so many hot topics these days, largely fueled by the media swirl (which is another topic for another day), and it seems people are so quick to demonize "the other side," not thinking that those of "the other side" may be the brothers and sisters in Christ that we worship next to on Sunday morning. so many Scripture references pop into my head including Jesus' admonishment that calling your brother a fool could endanger one's soul of the lake of fire itself... or how about the places where the apostles paul, peter, and john plead with believers to love one another? i often wonder if people think about who is reading their words and if they would want to say that to someone's face? how would these discussions take place in a living room over a cup of coffee? or, even more important, do we want these side issues, no matter how passionate we feel about our perspective, to take the place of importance of the REAL issue of following Jesus and displaying his sacrificial love to one another and to those who have not yet believed? i believe in not compromising what Jesus and the scriptures say following Him looks like - i am not one of changing the scriptures to say all paths lead to God. i am thinking of side issues... i am thinking of things that are left up to us and not described as sin. even confronting sin issues should be done in love and coming to a brother or sister personally... just thoughts that i think when i watch this dynamic that is specific to our particular time we live in.

3. joy - what does it look like to walk out true joy? joy isn't tied to circumstance - joy is tied to the secure place we have in the One to whom we entrust our lives. i am finding for myself joy is more and more tied into giving thanks. as i am reading through the psalms daily, i am finding the command to give thanks over and over again. i read the reminder to israel to remember what He did for them and to tell others of what He did... i think as believers we are to do the same. when my thoughts and words are filled with thanking Him for His faithfulness, something bubbles forth from my very depths that can't help but cause me to trust Him more and to experience this joy that cannot be stolen by anyone or anything. no one can steal my joy when i am anchored to Him who is trustworthy. i do not understand a lot in life, but i know that joy is available to me when i choose to give thanks in all things.

blessings to you and yours - may God show you what He has for you to say yes to so you can feel confident in saying no to what which isn't for this season. may God give you grace to choose your words lovingly and keep the main thing in focus, that the worries and cares of this life won't cause you to forget that we are first called to walk as He walked and talk as He talked - full of mercy, truth, and always pointing to the hope of reconciliation to the Father! may God bring you to experience true joy - joy that lasts!

charis

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

thoughts



it has been a season of lots of pressure. lots of crushing. lots of testing. i feel as if i were dust. fine dust. interesting that we were made from dust and both literally and figuratively we return to dust...

i am so thankful that neither my best moments nor my worst moments define me.

i am defined by the mercy of Jesus alone and i throw myself at His mercy. i sure need it. His sacrifice for me was enough. i cannot add to it nor take away from it - He is more than enough for me. He is both my shield and my exceedingly great reward.

i would love to write more often. this is just not that season. there are a lot of things i wish for that are not a part of my current season of life, but i find that i am happiest if i embrace the season i am in. i have heard it said that the most joy comes from not chasing what you love but loving what you already have. i purpose my heart to give thanks, to live from a place of joy, to say no to the thoughts that i am not enough, do not have enough, can never do enough. Jesus is enough for me and i don't have to be enough because He was enough and will always give me more than enough for each moment.

in everything give thanks. this is the will of God for you and for me. in everything. i am purposing my heart to do this moment by moment, day by day, and i know that one day i will see much good fruit from the simple yes to acknowledging His great goodness in my life.

charis

Saturday, January 3, 2015

late night musings


i have had several really good blog posts swirling around my head over the past month or so, only to not get a chance to sit down at the computer and type them out. aw... thus is the life of having 6 kids. no time when i am inspired, and no inspiration on the chance i have a few minutes of time.

kids have changed me.

one kid? not so much. i brought him around everywhere with me, still doing pretty much what i did.

two kids? well, that hit me like a freight train, but slowly i pulled out of the wreckage and tried to piece back together a semblance of who i thought myself to formerly be. did i ever fully recover? the world, or i for that matter, may never know.

three kids? well, somehow i had the grace of God to step into a new season of me. former dreams that had been put way up high on the back shelf to collect dust were pulled back down, and i rediscovered a bit of me that i had forgotten. i found a new confidence and settled into myself. i discovered new parts i didn't know were there.

four kids? i entered into a letting go. be it for a short time or forever, i felt my hands release what i had tried to hold tight to.

five kids? my hands became so full, my heart even moreso, that i didn't have room for anything else. did i mean i didn't value other parts of me? no. i just realized that to be present with all i had, something had to give.

six kids? my life before is a fuzzy distant memory that only sometimes i get a small glimpse of, maybe in a dream in the night or being tagged in an old pic on facebook, and nostalgia and sentimentality come for a visit over a cup of tea late at night. then i wake up in the morning wishing i had gone to bed a bit earlier because of all i have to do on much too little sleep.

what is the point of this rambling? i went to a movie tonight that was a film version of a musical i was in during my college days. i felt a foggy memory of a person i was long ago, who i am pretty sure is in there somewhere. the memories triggered were happy ones. i smiled, i remembered, i looked up people on facebook that i haven't spoken to in years. i also sat and wondered who of my current friends and acquaintances know i was in theatre in a "previous life." who knows the parts of me that seem so hidden that i sometimes forget they are there? so much has changed. so much life lived, the road coming to forks where i had to make a choice, and other times taking a detour not of my own choosing.

but even in my musings and remembering, i don't regret taking the road i chose, and making the choices i did that have led me so far from those days. i may not have chosen detours that are now a part of my history, but even those have shaped me, grown me, matured me.

i love my life now. do i wish at times i could have parts of my past while living in my present? perhaps. but perhaps not. so much has happened since those times, and so much of it is all jumbled up in the mess of yarn that makes up who i am today. beautiful times. painful times. times i smile upon. times i would rather forget. and yet, none of it is in vain. somehow the Lord will take this tangled yarn and make a beautiful piece of art, and it will all count.

so as i go to sleep tonight i will remember and i will thank the Lord for the sum of the times He has given me, all the times that lie ahead, many or few, and whoever He is weaving me together to be. His plans are good. His ways are high. as i plunge ahead into a new year, i choose to trust, to love, to be present, and to give thanks for all i have rather than long for what i don't.

charis


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

how do you follow Jesus when you have a justice heart?



there are a lot of thoughts swirling in my head about what it looks like to walk in faith in Jesus during this life.

did Jesus really mean for us to "turn the other cheek?" when peter asked Him how many times he should forgive someone who did him wrong, did Jesus really mean "70 times seven" as saying over and over again? i mean, if some really does something unjust against us, are we to let it slide or make sure wrong is made right?

i am not trying to just ask rhetorical questions. my dad always described me as being someone who had a justice heart. i have a really hard time knowing that something was wrong and that nothing is done to rectify it. i get it when people want to wrong the rights of the world. i get it when it feels like a violation of everything i know to be true to just "let it go."

i don't think Jesus was saying to just let things go. i don't think He was saying that the wrong done isn't a big deal. i mean, look at His life - it was a really big deal that He was lied about and given the death sentence; He was beaten, humiliated, and left naked and half dead on a cross with people spitting on Him, taunting Him to make His own justice for Himself if He truly was who He said He was. i am pretty sure that Jesus knew that it was a big deal injustice happening to Him.

so, tell me, why was He able to say, "Father forgive them, they don't know what they are doing," when it seems pretty obvious that each person there fully knew they were killing Him and mocking Him? i don't think they had the insanity plea available. i don't think it was just a mistake. i think it was premeditated, wicked, and the worst offense that could have been done against a person, let alone the Person of God. i don't think Jesus was "brushing it off."

when i talk to my kids about forgiving their brothers that do wrong against them, i really try to start with the context that what their offending brother did really was WRONG. i don't want them to think that it is something simply to get over and ignore. i want my kids to know there there truly is a day of reckoning where each one of us will stand before a Righteous Judge who will make each wrong be paid for in full. each one of us will be required to fully pay the offenses that we committed - unless.

unless we cast ourselves at the mercy of Jesus on that cross.

i ask my kids when they are struggling with the forgiveness thing if they want to receive the mercy of Jesus over their lives when they stand before the Father. you see, it is clearly written in more than one place that the key to receiving forgiveness is to forgive.

to the merciful, they shall receive mercy.

mercy does not mean that wrong was not committed. the only time anyone needs mercy is when what they did was really truly wrong. i am in desperate need of mercy in my life, and this is THE reason i commit my heart over and over again to giving mercy to those who commit wrong against me. i do not do it for their sake, though i am learning more and more how much i should have their sake in mind - i do it because i want all my sins covered when i stand before the Father on that day of judgement. i don't want any areas brought up where He can point out that i refused mercy or forgiveness in situations that i thought i was justified in requiring things to be made right. i think of the parable of the man who owed a great debt and was forgiven, then went to his neighbor and demanded he pay the small debt back immediately. when the judge heard of this he was infuriated, for good reason. i do not want to be that man. i want to be the one to receive mercy because i gave the undeserved mercy to others. i want to be the one who was so thankful for my great debt being forgiven that it is overflow to forgive others of what they owe me.

i do not concern myself with whether i will be viewed as a doormat or not. if this was what Jesus was mostly concerned with, He would NOT have given us the example of dying on a cross. if Jesus was mostly concerned with if we would be treated as a doormat, then He would NOT have told us that we must carry our own cross to follow Him.

He did not give many ways to follow Him. i cannot choose how i follow Him. if i am to be a follower of Jesus, i must choose His way. that is frightening. i do not want to carry my cross. i do not want to be wronged. i do not want to be wronged over and over again, maybe even to the point of death. i am being totally serious. i struggle with this big time in my own heart and i wonder, if i struggle so much with forgiving small things done against me by my children, my husband, my family, and my friends, how in the world am i even going to give my life if that is what is asked of me? am i even saved when there are christians giving their lives all over the world for not denying Christ, and i struggle if someone broke my stuff and doesn't offer to fix it or if my husband doesn't apologize for hurting my feelings?

why would it even matter to give mercy? why is this how Jesus asks us to follow Him? it only matters because our God is a God of mercy. it is because Jesus was a perfect representation of what the Father is like - we can look at how Jesus lived every day of His life and know the Father. Jesus wants us as well to be a true witness of what He is like, and what the Father is like in turn. when someone wrongs me and i give them mercy and forgiveness - especially when they do not ask for it, think they need it, or are willing to make anything right on their end - i am showing a picture of what this awesome God i serve is like. i am showing that the only reason i even have an ounce of power or desire to show mercy and forgiveness is because i am constantly reminded how it was, is, and will be shown to me.

i am a sinner saved by the grace and mercy of Jesus. i do not ever want to forget this because it is the only way i am saved from the wrath of God.

so, if i am liberal in showing mercy and forgiving from my heart, not requiring wrong to be made right, i WILL probably be treated like a doormat. i will most likely be taken advantage of by those looking out for their own gain. i will most likely be misunderstood and mocked. but i believe that God will make ALL the wrong things right when Jesus returns, and i want to learn to be patient for His justice and not try to make my own justice. i know this doesn't come easy to me, and anyone who really knows me knows how much i struggle to be a witness of this. i wish i could write this conviction i have and at the same time have that perfect witness of it that Jesus had. i really wish, and hope to one day, have the type of walk in my life that you could look at how i conduct myself and say, "i think she really does believe those things that she wrote about." this is my goal. i mess up over and over again, but i have purposed my heart to learn how to walk out a life of forgiveness that isn't deserved and to wait upon the justice of God because i really believe that day of accountability is real and it scares me a little. okay, it scares me a lot. i ask the Father for the Holy Spirit to strengthen me in this because it is so hard. so terribly hard.

i think Jesus asked the Father to forgive the ones who enacted the greatest injustice against Him in the midst of dying, because He had full understanding of the day of judgement coming and He wanted as many to be saved from the wrath of God as possible. once in a while i get a small revelation of the realness of this day coming, and i have grace on my heart to forgive even deeper and cry out for the Lord to NOT make those who have wronged me pay but to give them full forgiveness and mercy forever. i do not want anyone to go to the lake of fire. i really don't. it terrifies me. i want my life to somehow point others to the mercy of Jesus that they would surrender their lives to Him as well and be saved by Him forever. i want people to know there is mercy available and that the day of judgement is real.

i know this is a long rambling, but these are my thoughts this morning. the belief that this is all real is the only thing that gives me strength to really turn the other cheek - to allow someone access to hurt me AGAIN, possibly in the same way and hopefully be praying for the Lord to be merciful to them in the midst of it. i fall short. i know i do. but i desire for the Lord to grow me in this area because i believe it is the biggest deal of what following Jesus looks like. if i cannot acknowledge that my own life is in desperate need of forgiveness, then it is much harder to see the why of me living in a way that could very well leave me without seeing justice in this life.
 

charis

Saturday, November 1, 2014

day 31: little miss

my last day of the challenge! first of all, i have to say thank you to every reader who hung with me. i can't believe i made i with only getting 1 day behind. no, i will not continue to post daily, but you will keep hearing from me. i won't wait 8 months again before a new post.



for my last day of these 31 days of thanks, i want to give thanks for my baby girl. i know i kind of gave thanks for her in my intro post too.

  • she is truly a content baby.
  • she is a good sleeper, and not because of anything i have done differently. i get a good sleeper every 3rd baby...
  • if her brothers were a rich fudgey chocolate cake, she would be that perfectly delectable frosting on top.
  • i have wanted a baby girl my entire life. i always wanted a big family and when i met bill and thought i could easily have a bunch of boys if i had a little girl as a caboose. she is the most perfect caboose i could ever imagine. i doubted for several years that she would ever be, but she is and that just blows me away over and over again.
  • she gives bill the opportunity to have a daddy daughter bond that i had with my daddy, and that just means more to me than i know how to put into words. he never had sisters, and i am so thrilled to see this little girl rock his world in only 5 months. he has always bonded so well to our nieces, and now he has a little beauty of his own to love on.
  • i love to see how her brothers just adore her, take care of her, and make her smile and laugh. i love that they get to experience how special it is to have a sister. 
  • after some really painful years, God has given me such a gift and i don't know how to describe it... i didn't even really feel the ability to grieve my daddy until i found out i was pregnant. it was so bittersweet in ways words don't really do justice until you walk through something like it. i don't know what it was about this sweet baby, but she unlocked my heart to feel again. after being so numb for 6 months, the first emotions to tumble out were very painful. but God used her before i even knew her to bring healing to my heart, and she will forever be connected to my daddy even though she hasn't met her yet. i know he would and will love her so much. 
  • she is my little myrtle tree and the grace of God to me. she really was born for a time such as this that He has planned ahead of time.

charis

want to read more of my 31 days of thanks? just click on the box below - it is that simple.

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