Hold your tongue.
Watch your mouth.
If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.
These are things we heard all the time as children, and likely, if you are a parent as I am, you are now saying them every day yourself.
We often hear a lot about what not to do, and what not to say, not just in church, but in the world, as a whole. As a mom of 4, I say No...a lot.
Don't hit your brother. Don't point. Don't laugh when someone falls down. Don't wipe your boogers on your brothers bed.
I'd say that the majority of my day is spent telling my children what not to do. Honestly, there isn't a whole lot of time left over for instructing them in the things that they should be doing, so how will they learn?
My hope and my prayer in this, is that our actions will teach them more than our words ever could.
When I think back on the people, thus far, who have had the greatest, most positive impact on my life, and even my salvation, it has nothing to do with what they said. We tend to put a lot of weight on words, and I don't want to completely disregard that. There is truth to that. However, most people will quickly forget words. Most people cannot perfectly recall conversations. But they can almost always tell you exactly how someone made them feel.
Love is an active choice. It is taking action. It is not felt through the word, though it might be nice to hear.
"Do not waste your time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him." ~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Act in love. Your actions are capable of not only positively impacting someone else's life, but your own as well.
Can I have an honest moment with you?
Have you ever felt so overwhelmed, so burnt out, that even the ice cream isle taunts you with stressful decisions?
That was me last week. Friday, I paced the ice cream isle for almost 10 minutes. I nearly burst into tears because I couldn't decide just how I wanted to eat my feelings. There were suddenly too many brands, too many choices, too many flavors that were just one or two ingredients different than my norms, and too many prices to compare.
Ice cream, guys! Ice cream almost made me cry.
...and I'm not even pregnant.
My life isn't so bad, not really, and when I talk about all the daily stresses I've been dealing with, I feel really silly.
*Dog's emergency surgery...right before vacation
*and the bill that came with it
*the dining room floor needing to be pulled apart because of asbestos tile beneath
*the leaking pipe behind the washing machine
*a kid needs braces
*a kid with a sinus infection
*up late every night trying to grow my business
*a husband, who suddenly went out with a back injury in the midst of all this chaos
*a giant cup of orange juice spilled on the brand new carpet
*passing out all the McGriddles after a long morning at the doctors, only to discover I've given out the wrong one, and I'm left with the icky breakfast sausage instead of bacon. blech
*exploding clay hot pack in the microwave
*and last, but in no way least, the 2 year old I fight with daily, who tests me daily; hourly even, who sent two elbows and a knee to my throat during tantrums last week (during church no less) preventing me, once again, from partaking in worship. She is exhausting, but fearfully and wonderfully made!
The list sounds whiny. They are not real problems...at least not without solutions. But sometimes, when all those little problems add up and begin to take their toll, a real heaviness lands on me; an overwhelming darkness that I know is not from God, and I find myself crying because I can't decide on ice cream, and I can't afford them all.
But then, the kids go to bed, the hubby rests his back, and God gives me the spirit of peace. Y'all, this blog is designed to be encouraging for you, my readers, and to speak to those in need of a message, but God also shows me every single week, how He uses it for me.
Having to sit down, and write this; having to search my Bible in the quiet of my storm, God speaks to me, and lets me know that He knows the way.
He will lift the darkness and light your path, or even carry you, if you let Him.
Picture this, if you will; a large field of dry brush, in a drought. It is lacking nutrients, attention, and care. It is hurting and dying, ripe for a forest fire.
Now imagine this is our world. These are our people.
You don't actually have to imagine it. There are people all around us suffering, hurting, in need of attention and care.
I heard this line in a song recently, and it ignited something within me, spread love like fire. When I began to search for a Bible verse relevant to this concept, I typed "Bible verses about...," into Google, and then paused. I felt the need to write in "fire," which seemed silly. The idea is love, and speaking life. I felt I should be searching for verses about those things, but God had other plans for this message. Isn't it amazing how God can use Google to speak with us?!
I continued with my search, "Bible verses about fire," thinking it wouldn't lead to what was so obviously placed on my heart, but I was wrong. There are many verses speaking of fire, and I noticed a theme. When we read about fire in the Bible, it is typically of two very different concepts. Most notably, fire is used in reference to destruction or anger. But then, there are a handful of times where we see that an angel of the Lord appeared as fire.
In Exodus 3:2 (NIV) we read, "There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire, it did not burn up." When I looked into this verse further, I noticed that almost every other translation says, "but was not consumed" at the end.
What I have taken from that is this; this fire is not consuming, not destructive, but enlightening.
We can look at those dry, forlorn fields with two options; the choice between two different fires. Hate or Love.
Hate is an easier fire to ignite. It's like pouring gasoline on burning embers. It doesn't take a whole lot of effort, or even thought.
Love is not as easy. It takes patience. It takes some work, diligence, and persistence, but the sparks that fly will ignite a flame that breathes life into the forlorn; a flame that brings light to the darkness! It is not destructively all-consuming, but it can spread like wildfire.
Which spark are you going to choose to be?
People are imperfect. We just are. People will hurt you. Some might hurt you intentionally, without remorse. Some might hurt you unintentionally, over and over, unaware or oblivious of the consequences of their actions.
Some of those same people just plain and simply cannot emotionally handle the responsibility of your pain. What do I mean by this? Simply put, telling them that you have been hurt by their actions can do irreparable harm to the relationship, because they are not equipped to receive it. Most of the time, they are so completely unaware that they've hurt you, that they feel blindsided or attacked. They become defensive, say more hurtful things they may not even mean, or try to blame you for your own hurt feelings. I have learned, many times over, that open and honest communication about how someone has made you feel, is really difficult to do without doing more damage than good.
Listen, you cannot control your feelings any more than you can control how others react to them, but you can control your own reactions. And while this is a topic I could go on and on about, in many different directions, I am only going to focus on one for now.
Forgive them anyway.
They don't have to say they're sorry. And while every situation will vary, I would even go so far as to say, they don't even have to know they've hurt you. Contrary to those quotes you see being shared all over the internet about friends who don't deserve your forgiveness, you will never regret showing love and kindness. You will never regret extending grace and forgiveness where it wasn't asked of you. You will never regret loving someone during some of their unlovable moments.
And I get it. I really do. I understand that everyone has their breaking point. I get that everyone has the right to their feelings. I understand that some wounds cut really deep.
But here's the thing. When you near the end of your life, the regrets you will have will never revolve around the love and forgiveness you offered. The regrets you will have, will be about the relationships you lost when you refused.
Christ died for all, knowing the sin in this world, and knowing that many of those He was dying for, had never sinned against Him...yet. He died for those who had not asked for forgiveness, and even those who had yet to show remorse.
I am not perfect. I have hurt people. I have said and done things without thinking, and I have sinned against God without thinking about how that might have made Him feel. Based on the rules of this world, I do not deserve His love and forgiveness. None of us do. But He has extended it to us anyway.
Forgive anyway. It may be undeserved. They may have no remorse. They may not even know that they have hurt you, but Jesus never said to only forgive the forgivable.
We are on vacation this week (yay!), and had the pleasure of listening to a live sermon from North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA, from their website. They had a guest speaker this week with a powerful message titled, Just Be You, which I would strongly encourage you to watch.
With the Fourth of July around the corner, she spoke about heroes coming from within, just in who God created us to be, with whatever he has placed in our hands to use. It was a convicting message, leaving me thinking, what can I do? Like the staff of Moses, what has God placed in my hands, so to speak, that He has plans for me to use?
In this message, Strickland sites a story about Mother Teresa, telling a BBC reporter that you cannot blame poverty on God. Poverty is the result of God's children not wanting to share.
After listening to this sermon, in a search for more, left wondering what it might be that God has for me to use, I began looking up more about Mother Teresa. I found one particular quote from her that really stood out for this message today.
Often finding myself at a loss, wondering what my calling may be, this message and this quote spoke to me. The message was so powerful even my 2-year old was enthralled, and at one point, she turned to me and whispered in my ear, "Mommy, heroes use their hands!" Amen!
Want to know how God can use you? Be there. You don't need all the money, all the things, all the resources in the world. GOD is your resource, and He is greater than this world! God is your provider, and chances are, He has already given you the tools you need to be the hero someone needs. Be there. Love them. You don't have to be more than exactly who God made you to be.
As a wife, mom of 4, and business owner, finding time to spend in the Word, can be difficult, so I get it! Come join me each Monday for a simple message of hope, faith, and encouragement amidst some honest mommy moments.
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