Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Motherhood: Putting On The Oxygen Mask

Likely you’ve heard the speech that is given aboard every air plane that ever takes off. Your flight attendant in the midst of giving directions about turning off electronics, bathroom locations, and emergency exits throws in the following:

In case there is a loss in cabin pressure, yellow oxygen masks will deploy from the ceiling compartment located above you. To secure, pull the mask towards you, secure the elastic strap to your head, and fasten it so it covers your mouth and nose. Breath normally. Even if the bag does not inflate, please keep in mind that oxygen is flowing. Please make sure to secure your own mask before assisting others

That final little sentence is the one that relates all too well to motherhood. “…MAKE SURE to secure your own [oxygen] mask before assisting others.” In other words, if you try to help everyone else before you take care of yourself you’re probably going to pass out and be useless anyways, SO breathe your oxygen first so that you can be the help to others that you need to be.

How often do we as moms forget to stop and put on our own oxygen mask? How often do we forget to stop and breathe for ourselves?

I don’t know if it’s the idea that we are afraid to ask for help, we feel like we don’t deserve it, or we fear becoming the opposite type of mom who never has time for her kids because she is always taking care of herself, but it needs to stop. Just like we as humans desperately need oxygen, we as moms also desperately need something. We need to fill ourselves. We need time to be refreshed. We need that opportunity to stop and breathe in the oxygen.

The truth is many of us are running on empty. We give and give, and help and help, and work, and work, and on it goes. But, eventually we run out of oxygen, and rather than truly being a help, truly being the mom that we desire to be, we eventually start to suffocate!

So, today I challenge you as a mom to start filling yourself first, so that you can truly be the blessing and help to others that you desire to be.

This will look different for every person. For me, an essential act of taking care of myself first is spending some time with my Savior each day. He is the one who refreshes my heart. He is the one who gives me rest. And, He can continue to fill you throughout the day through other things that give you joy. For me, sometimes it’s as simple as a piece of chocolate and a good book while my kids are napping, maybe it’s a kid free night out with friends, maybe it’s a short stop as your favorite coffee shop, a workout, or even a trip to the grocery store by yourself.

Figure out what fills you, what gives you joy and refreshes your heart… and then breathe it in. Breathe it in on a regular basis, so that in turn you can give life, and joy, and refreshment to those around you!

Jeremiah 31:25 “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Journey:Holding on For Dear Life

My friend, Aren't you SO glad that the good Lord above is in control of this Journey that we are on? Aren't you thankful that through the ups and downs of this crazy thing called life, ultimately God’s plan is at work? Ultimately amidst the plans we make and the paths we take, His hand is up above us, working in us and through us.

Today, I am so beyond thankful that I can hold onto this truth. I am so beyond thankful that when my life does not seem to make sense, I can look above to my Father who already knows the whats and whens and whys. Today, when I begin to feel stress because my plans did not work as I thought they should, or would, I know that I can instead say “thank you Lord” because His plan is still at work and is always better than my own. And, when my heart is heavy from the weight of my unfulfilled expectations, or when I feel like I have been beat up or knocked down one too many times to possibly get up again, I lean on my Father because He is my strength and my helper.

The term “journey” is described as an act of traveling from one place to another. I suppose that is true of life, but I think we may be better to describe this life that we live as an epic roller coaster. I don’t know about you, but I happen to be a fan myself. The thrill. The excitement. The fear. The sick feeling in my stomach. The joy. The ups and downs. The shock. And then the relief. This is how I have found life to be many times.
I recently took a detour in the plans I had made for myself at this point in my life. What I thought was going to be, just wasn't. And in the midst of the prayer, and the decision making, and the “now what” it often felt like the up and down, and thrill, and fear, and joy, and excitement all at once.

But, here’s what I know, & as I wait, I remember, the Lord is in control. HE is the one who sees the BIG picture of my life when I only see a tiny glimpse. He is the one who understands how my life, my actions, my roller coaster ride not only affects me, but affects other’s around me. I take comfort in knowing that it’s OK for me to NOT know the “what next”, because my God knows. His plan is always the BEST plan.
So today, as you are coasting along through life and you meet an unexpected “turn you upside down” loop or a quick drop in the path that leaves your stomach in your throat, know that God has a plan. This journey is not your own. Let Him be in control and hang on for dear life (actually, just throw those hands on up in the air J). Enjoy the ride my friend!

Proverbs 16:9 “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Guarding Your Heart: Why Should You?

Let me start out by saying, I understand. I KNOW! What I’m about to say is old fashioned in the least, possibly pre-historic. It’s a concept that is mostly unheard of in today’s society. I GET IT… It’s not easy doing the thing that NO ONE else seems to be doing.

I understand that to some this concept will sound ridiculous, extreme. That’s OK. But, will you allow me to share with you from my own experience? From my heart? From the truth that I have encountered?

When I was in middle school and high school I never really dated. My parents had rules that to most seemed pretty “strict” regarding the world of dating. If I remember correctly the rule was NO dating until you are at least 16 and at that point it was still very STONGLY discouraged. In a society where we encourage are children to have a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” in kindergarten and most kids start “dating” before they even know what dating is, this seemed a bit crazy. Of course I had the middle school boyfriend because they couldn’t really keep that from happening, but outside of school, my parents never went out of their way to allow us to hang out together, even when all the other parents were. At the time, it didn’t seem fair, BUT now as an adult, you know what? I’m THANKFUL. They were guarding my heart.

And then, I can remember when I started dating my first “real boyfriend”. I was 17 and getting ready to leave for college at the end of that summer. He was handsome, older, and more experienced. O, yeah, and now he happens to be my husband ;). He still teases me to this day about my twice a weak rule. When we first started dating, I told him that I was only able to see him twice a week. We joke about it now, but looking back, I’m glad I did that, you know why? I was guarding my heart.

As we got more serious in our relationship, we set boundaries. Boundaries that to most were unheard of, especially for 2 adult people who were “in love”. We made the choice to wait to have sex until we were married, and set other boundaries regarding physical contact. It was not the popular decision. It was not what most of the people around us were doing. In fact, a lot of our friends did not believe that we would actually follow through with our boundaries. BUT, looking back, I am so glad we set them. You know why? We were both guarding our hearts.

I know this is a concept that you don’t hear much about, but CAN I BEG YOU? I beg you to start now. Start guarding your heart. Don’t pour out your heart and all your secrets to some boy you just started talking to… Don’t spend all your time and energy trying to impress a boy that you barely know…. Know that it’s OK to not date, to NOT hold hands, to NOT kiss, and ultimately, to NOT have sex. The boundaries will look different for everyone. BUT what boundaries could you put in play to start guarding your heart today?

As I look around at my friends who made the choice not to guard their hearts, I see hurt. I watched them search for love, for acceptance, for their identity in a relationship. And, some of them never found it….

Ask the Lord to guide you as you set boundaries to guard your heart and allow HIM to be the keeper of your heart today!

Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for from it flows the springs of life.”

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Motherhood: 9 Tips on Intentionally Being With Your Kids Each Day

Rather you are a working mom or a stay at home mom, no doubt your schedule is busy, and your to do list is never complete. As a mom we are expected to wear lots of different hats! For me there have been times when I have been so wrapped up in my to do list- laundry, cleaning, dinner, bath time, other activities and functions- that I get to the end of the day and realize although I was with my kids ALL day, I wasn't REALLY WITH THEM. I hadn't taken the time to be with them. Sure, I filled a sippy cup in between tasks, I hurried them to nap time so that I could accomplish a few more things, but I hadn't been intentional in my time with them.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be a mom who is really with my kids each day. I am still learning, but here are a few tips I have found very helpful in order to keep the balance in my household while still having intentional time with my children.

#1 Have an approximate schedule for the day.
As moms, we all know that a lot of time schedules get thrown out the window, so I am not saying have every minute of your day scheduled. But, have an idea in your head of what you would like to see your day look like. For example, I know that around 7:00 I’m going to spend about 45 minutes getting drinks and breakfast, watching cartoons, and giving my babies morning cuddles; around 10:00 I’m going to spend a few minutes doing an activity with my kids followed by a snack; around 11:00 I’m going to work with my kids to get the play area picked up before lunch…. Etc. There are days when a teething baby throws the whole routine off, and that’s fine, but in general this has been great for our routine.

#2 Have intentional conversations with your kids throughout the day (even the ones that can’t really talk).
I have been intentional about this one. I choose not to just shrug off my 3 year old who could talk non-stop all day long, instead I ask her questions. At the beginning of the day it may go something like this: How did you sleep? Did you have any dreams? What do you want to do today? Did you have fun yesterday? What did you do? At the end of the day it may look like this: Did you have a good day? What was your favorite part of today? Why?

If she has a story to tell, I ask for details. I engage her. I want her to know I’m listening.

#3 Enlist them in helping with whatever you are doing.
This is something you can start doing with your kids when they are still very young. Have them help you pick up the living room. As they get older let them help you unload the dishwasher, wash dishes, sweep the floor, make lunch, etc. Sometime it does feel like extra work to have them alongside of you, but it keeps them occupied, teaches them the importance of helping, and allows them to feel like a part of your day.

#5 Take intentional breaks throughout the day to do specific activities with your kids.
After I have completed one task and am ready to move onto the next I often times stop and intentionally do something with my kids. Maybe it’s going outside to swing, blow bubbles, create with sidewalk chalk? Maybe, it’s reading some books, having a tea party, building a block tower, or doing a craft?
They really feel special when you stop and focus solely on them for a few minutes.

#6 Put your phone away for a while.
I have had to learn throughout the day to put my cell phone on silent and put it up, especially during those times of focused activity with my kids. Simple idea, but such a big impact.

#7 Set a timer for different activities throughout the day.
This is useful both for your own personal to do list AND for your activity time with your kids. In order to keep a good balance throughout the day I find setting a timer for things SO helpful. I’ll clean for 30 minutes, and then spend an intentional 30 minutes with my kids. Do laundry for 15 minutes, then stop and spend 10 minutes reading a book to my kids. This will look different for every mom, but has allowed me to take control of my time without feeling extra stress.

#8 Have intentional eye contact time with your kids each day.
With little ones, tickle time is a great way to look them right in the eyes, tell them you love them, laugh with them a little, and then you both feel better moving on to whatever is next in your day. With older children this will look different but intentionally having “eye to eye” time each day does something to show your children your unconditional love.

#9 Have a day all about them.
Every once in a while it is great to throw the to do list out and just BE with your kids ALL DAY LONG. Don’t worry about the pile of dishes or laundry, just intentionally be with them. They will surely appreciate it!

I hope you find these ideas helpful! What intentional parenting tips would you add to the list?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday: What's All the Fuss About?

Today is Good Friday, a day that I’m sure hundreds of others are writing about. This is the day that we remember the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made by dying upon the cross, and ultimately taking our punishment so that we can be saved, freed, redeemed.

There are many things I could write about regarding this day, but if I could only tell you one detail, this is what I would want you to know: He died for you.

Yes….YOU. If you are reading this, He died for you. It really does not matter if you have chosen to believe or not to, if you have chosen to accept His sacrifice or not, He still died for you.

For you, the one who thinks this God thing is a bunch of bunk, He died for you.

For you, the one who walked away from the “religious” scene long ago, never to return, He died for you
For you, the one who feels distant from God today, He died for you.

For the one who is the first to say “God Bless America” or believe that Heaven is where you’ll be spending eternity, but this whole personal relationship/Jesus Christ thing isn't really you, He died for you.

For the one who feels like they have sinned too many times, or messed up too badly, He died for you.

And, to you, the one who thinks the Bible, the story of this day is nothing but a dreamt up fairy tale, He died for you too.

Today, whoever you are, it doesn’t matter, HE DIED FOR YOU.

He gave His life in place of yours. All you have to do is accept that and know that it’s enough. You don’t have to be the best, or follow all the rules, or know the Bible frontward and backward. He meets you right where you’re at. He gave His life for you. He loves you. And, ultimately, He died for you!

Romans 3:22-24 “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Holding My Tongue: The Three Words That Slipped Out

I’m almost embarrassed to tell you this story. Really, I don’t want to. But, God continues to bring it back to my mind as an important lesson so I suppose I will share it with you.

It had been a long day, dealing with needy babies, cooking and cleaning, and working on getting the house and yard ready for summer time. I was tired. I hadn't had the time to spend with my Lord that day, which always affects my heart and therefore my attitude negatively. So, I have about a million excuses for my actions, but none of them make it OK.

As I was working alongside my husband outside, I started a discussion. It was on a topic that I knew was a hot button for us. We have had the same argument MANY times. We both are aware that we 100% disagree on this topic. And, yet, I still for some strange reason feel that maybe if I bring the topic up enough times, or discuss it with enough passion or conviction I will change his mind. Anyways, as the discussion ensued it began, AS ALWAYS, to get heated. As I spoke with what I thought was sound reasoning, my husband continued to laugh me off and disagree.
So, there I was, annoyed, frustrated, tired, upset…. And that’s when it happened… Just like that I felt the words coming up like verbal vomit that I could not stop… “I hate you” with an added “right now” at the end to take a little bit of the permanent sting off. Yikes. As soon as I said it I felt remorse. I felt conviction. I knew I was in the wrong. But, as we learn in elementary school, just like squirting out the tube of toothpaste, those words could not be taken back.

I spent some time alone and asked the Lord to work on my heart. And, as always, He did. I apologized to my husband for saying those words and made a great argument for why they were absolutely not true but just seemed to slip out in the heat of the moment. He forgave me, like he always does. And, just like that we moved on with life.

A day or two went by and I thought my lesson regarding this mistake was over, but God was not done teaching me. Riley (my 2 year old daughter) and I had been playing, but it was time to pick up the living room and get ready for nap time. This really isn't a favorite part of the day for Riley and she insisted that instead of picking up we should have a tea party. A tea party sounded pretty good to me but I knew I needed to stick to my guns and have her help me pick up. And there it was again…. “Mom, I hate you”….She said it. My 2 year old just said that she hates me. Where could she have possibly heard that?!? O yeah, I remember....She heard it from me.

Ug, my heart dropped in my chest. I knew at that moment that I also had to apologize to my child for using that 3 word phrase. So, I did. And, I also shared with her why it was not OK.

I learned a REALLY important lesson that day. Someone is listening to what I say, even if I don’t realize it. What I say, what I do- it matters. It has an effect on others. As a mom, there are always little ears listening, but in general, even if you aren't a mom, know that your words have an impact on people.

Today, be aware of what you are saying. Speak life. Speak hope. Speak joy to others. If you find yourself in my shoes, allow God to work on your heart. Don’t be too prideful to say that you’re sorry. And then, give thanks for a God who never stops forgiving!

Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Daniel 9:9 “The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.”

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Motherhood: When It Feels Like Surely There Is More For Me

Again, I am going to be REALLY honest with you. There have been times in my life, even recently, that I thought surely this isn’t it? Surely the Lord has more for me to do- bigger things, world changing things?!? Things that will really make a difference?! Surely, there is more for me…

I know God has gifted me with individual passions, talents, and abilities that are specific to me, just as He has you. And, as I dream about the future, I dream BIG dreams. I dream about all that the Lord has in store for me. And, I get excited, but then I think to myself that most of the BIG things will just have to wait. You see, in this stage of my life I am too busy doing the things that seem little, building a home, giving life to babies, raising up children, teaching them, and bathing them, and feeding them, and loving them….

As the Lord has been working on my heart over the last months I have continually prayed “Lord lead me, lead me to do things that are BIG, things that clearly I have not done on my own, things that cause me to need you in such a way that I couldn’t possibly do them without you.” And, I have also continually asked Him to show me what those things might be….

And then, one day as I sat still before Him singing the lyrics to a popular song, “Spirit, lead me where my faith is without borders, let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me, take me deeper than my feet could ever wander…” It hit me. Like a ton of bricks. It’s been right in front of my nose all along.

You see, the “little” things that I am doing right now, in this stage of life and motherhood, well, they are NOT so little. The task of motherhood that the Lord has placed before me each and every day, IT IS a BIG thing. It is the thing that requires me to be on my knees daily crying out to the Lord for help. It IS the thing that He has called me to do, gifted me to do. It is the task that I could not possibly complete on my own each day without the help of my Heavenly Father. It is really the BIGGEST thing I could ever possibly do! I am raising little people. PEOPLE. I have the opportunity to be an instrument in molding their lives, in teaching them, in showing them Christ’s love. I want to change people’s lives… well, HELLO, I have little people right here in my home who I have the opportunity to be a life changer to every single day! They are people who will grow up. Who I am to them now and what I teach them now will affect the rest of their lives!

Today, I remember that what I am doing has purpose. It is definitely NOT little. It is real. It has eternal value. It is important. And, it is REALLY REALLY BIG.

Yes, I continue to dream about other things that the Lord may be calling me to do, now or in the future as my children grow. And, I think that is important too! But, at the end of the day, I know I am already living out His BIG purpose each day, as I call upon Him to help me be the mom I am supposed to be.

Psalm 127:3 “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him.”

Proverbs 6:20-23: "My son, observe the commandment of your father and do not forsake the teaching of your mother; bind them continually on your heart; tie them around your neck. When you walk about, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk to you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light; and reproofs for discipline are the way of life."

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Putting Up the Guardrails: 3 Tips to Start Setting Boundaries in Your Marriage

Jonathan and I on our wedding day.
Although I am very passionate about the topic of marriage, I have strongly hesitated to write anything about it, mostly because I don’t feel qualified. I (and I’m sure my husband) will tell you on any given day I fail MANY times in the wife category. I’m working on it.

I realize that in the scheme of life, I’m really just a newlywed. I’m aware that compared to many married couples we have faced very little as a couple. We still have lots of life left to face, lots of ups and downs, lots of trials and joys to experience together. So, for a while now I have chosen to refrain from writing. However, as I sit and watch marriage and families fall apart all around me, I am compelled to write.

Please know that if you are divorced, if you for some reason have had a marriage that did not work, this is not intended to condemn you. BUT if you are married, this is for you.

It is really easy to slowly slip into habits or behaviors that eventually destroy our marital relationships. These things do not generally happen overnight, but it’s a slow fade from one thing to the next. This is why it is SO important to set up boundaries and safeguard your marriage. No, these things will not make your marriage a “walk in the park” and yes, some of them will sound extreme, BUT these tips will be great guardrails for you to protect your marriage from harmful habits.

 #1 Create Social Media Boundaries
As a married woman, there are very rare occasions in which I should ever find myself having a conversation via text or facebook message with someone of the opposite sex. Extreme, right?! I believe that anything that is private and easily hidden can be one of those areas that slowly fade into something it was not intended to be. Yes, there will be exceptions to this rule on RARE occasions, but for the most part this is just off limits.

#2 Create “alone” Boundaries
As a married person, there are also boundaries that should be set up regarding who you allow yourself to be alone with. Again, this may sound extreme but my rule is that there is never really any reason why I need to be alone with someone of the opposite sex- not to go out to lunch, not a car ride together, not even a hang out session with an old friend. If I have male friends that I would like to hang out with, my husband should be included. It’s no longer “him” and “I”, it’s “we” and this should be carried into our relationships with others.

#3 Create Verbal Boundaries
This is one I learned from my parents and I find it to be SO necessary. There are certain words in your marriage that should absolutely be off limits. For example the word “divorce”… we don’t say it. NEVER. We never say this word. Why? Because I have seen many friends start out using the word “divorce” or “separation” as a meaningless threat, but it eventually turns into the real deal. Using these words creates a lack of trust and you can seemingly destroy your marriage just by throwing these words around.

These are just a few boundaries that I have found extremely helpful in my marriage, but in different relationships there may be many different “safeguards” that should be set in place. Consider what boundaries need to be set up in your marriage and take the initiative to start the conversation with your spouse! You never know, it could just save your marriage!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Motherhood: Taking Off the Mask

I have been guilty of wearing it on many occasions. It’s so easy to keep it on when out and about, when answering those “how’s everything going” questions. You know….the mask.

As a young mom I quickly learned about this mask that tends to be worn during motherhood. Although, I have to admit I don’t fully understand it. Somewhere in the midst of trying to stay positive and not putting our dirty laundry out for the world to see we as moms lose something. 

We accidently take our good intentions too far and we lose the honesty, the rawness of motherhood. We stop being REAL.

Can I just say that as a new young mom, there are times I desperately needed someone to be real with me. When I saw you, fellow mom in the grocery store, I needed you to put aside the “everything’s great, motherhood is so beautiful” line and say the REAL thing, the “motherhood IS great, but I’m SO beyond exhausted and I would give ANYTHING for 5 minutes to myself” truth. When I saw you veteran mom at church, I needed you to put away the “I have it all together” show and let some of the “I’m just as disorganized and imperfect as you” realness shine through. When I came to that play date at your house, friend, I needed you to forget about the perfectly clean house, perfectly healthy meals, perfectly well behaved children act and I needed to see a little more of the scattered undone laundry, and “yes, my kids had McDonalds for lunch too”  honesty.

I understand that as moms we are all striving to be organized, and healthy, and somewhat put together. I understand and appreciate the fact that we are all working to be the best mom, wife, employee, friend we can possibly be. BUT, sometimes, I NEEDED to see the flaws, the fall downs, the imperfection (and I have to believe I am not the only one who has ever needed to see this). Not so that I could think less of you, or think more highly of myself as a mom, but because I needed to know that I was not alone…That I am still not alone.

So moms, this is a cry out to you. And really, people in general this is a cry out to you, a cry to put the mask up on the shelf; a cry for you to PLEASE at the risk of someone thinking less of you, BE REAL… Be positive. Be an encouragement. BUT, also be honest. It’s ok for other’s to see the imperfections, in fact, I’ve found they actually like you MORE when they see, that just like them, you have struggles too. You never know who just desperately needs to see that they are not alone, that you, just like them have struggles, have shortcomings, and do not have it all together.  

…AND no, I do not have a Scripture basis that says “Moms, thou shalt be real” J. BUT, I do believe Scripture calls us to do life together and to be bearers of each other’s burdens, which is impossible without being real…

Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Friday, April 4, 2014

Life: When it Storms

We have now entered that time of year, thunderstorms and rain will be a regular part of life for the next couple months here in the Midwest. I personally am not a fan of the dark dreary days that generally accompany this rainy season. The rain and storminess itself feels like a downer to me as I anxiously anticipate my favorite time of year, summer.

As I thought about this I thought about the fact that in a lot of cases rain is referred to as not such a good thing. Phrases like “when it rains it pours” are usually used in reference to bad situations happening one right after the other. Sometimes we talk about a “stormy season” in life. Overall the metaphor of “rain” or a “storm” is often negative.

However, even as one who is not a fan of the rainy days I have watched in amazement as right before my eyes the brown grass has quickly turned green, the trees that appeared dead are surely starting to bud. I have even watched spring flowers pop up and bloom in a matter of days as we have steadily received the rain.

This is a lot like what happens in life. Sometimes the “rainy seasons” of our lives our filled with heart ache, betrayal, trials, and discouragement. I personally have experienced what felt like storms in my life after the loss of a loved one, or at times when I was betrayed by friends. I have felt like the rain was pouring when met with financial strains, when struggling emotionally, and when physically ill.

But, one thing was true after all of these different storms in my life. I came out of the other side with growth. The Lord worked during those times to spring up new life inside of me, to make me stronger. Much like the grass and trees, that as the storm rages they begin to grow again and at the end of the stormy time they come out healthier, more beautiful, and they continue to grow.

Today I thank God for the different storms I have faced because I know that He used those times to continue growing me into the woman of God He desires for me to be. It doesn't mean the storms in life will be easy, it just means after the storm has passed we can look back and thank God for how he shaped and grew us during that time.

Romans 5:3-4 “…But we also glory in our suffering, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Worst in Me

Recently my family and I were out for Sunday lunch. As it came time to order the pizza, nobody had made a decision on how much we needed, or what kind we wanted. So, my sister Rebecca and I started to try and figure it out and we soon found ourselves in a little argument, a heated discussion; let’s just say our voices were raised higher than they ever should be in an eating establishment and I think our waitress was a little scared.

Those of you who know my sister and I know that a little head butting is not necessarily an uncommon occurrence. We are both strong willed. We both have different view points on a number of things. And, worst of all, we both think that we are right, even about a silly pizza order.

As the discussion ended I quickly turned to my husband, shifting the blame from myself to my sister and maybe looking for a little bit of understanding from him, I said, “I don’t know what it is about my siblings, but they ALWAYS bring out the worst in me.” He quickly and calmly looked at me and responded, “It’s not your siblings that are the problem, the problem is that the worst is in you.” …. “The worst is in you”….

Ouch….That really wasn’t what I wanted to hear. But, the more I thought about it the more true it seemed.
Often times in our society we choose to put the blame for our life, for our decisions, for our sin onto someone else. Quite honestly, it’s just easier that way. If I don’t have to take responsibility for my hateful attitude and unnecessary remarks I can move on quickly without any remorse.

But the truth is it IS my responsibility. The sin in my life is no one’s fault but my own. And, friend, I know you don’t really want to hear it, but the sin in your life is also no one’s fault but your own.

The sad truth is that “the worst” is in each of us. But, that’s not the entire story. The beautiful part of this story is that though “the worst” is in each of us, and though God sees our heart and therefore sees “the worst” in us, He still loves us. He still forgives us. Thank God for His unwavering mercy and love that never fails us, even when “the worst” comes out.

Romans 3:23-24 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”