Relax, Reflect, Recharge

The Kindness of Intentional Blindness

Thank you  Michele Cushatt for today’s message.


We were hoping for a long, slow dinner out with good friends. Instead, what we got was a mediocre meal and a rude waitress.

From the moment we walked in the door of the tiny cafe, we felt her chill. She didn’t want us standing by the door, nor did she like it when we sat in a couple vacated chairs while we waited for a table. When our table was finally ready, she seemed annoyed by the number of our children. Then, when we asked for an additional glass of water, she let us know she’d already brought enough for everyone. We must’ve misplaced it. Finally, when we discovered we’d been given a regular pizza when we’d asked for gluten-free, she made sure we knew we must’ve ordered it wrong and it was definitely not her fault.

Now, I’d love to tell you my first instinct was one of compassion and grace. Instead, I looked at this snarky young woman—young enough to be one of my own children—and I considered how a good solid smack down might do her a bit of good. She was rude, disrespectful, unkind, and not at all the example I want my youngest three children to see. Customer service was absent, not to mention basic manners and human kindness. Her behavior was unacceptable, and every part of me wanted to tell her so.

Until later that evening, when we processed what had happened and an insight by my friend doused my fire:

“Did you hear what she said when she walked away? ‘I can’t do anything right.’ She must’ve been having a hard day.”

Just that fast, my annoyance turned to empathy. I knew what it felt like to have one of those days, when everything goes wrong and I feel like nothing but a failure. Sometimes it’s easier to erect a hard shell than crumble in a million pieces. Cold indifference feels safer than sadness.
I can’t help but wonder: What would’ve happened if I’d chosen lean in and extend kindness? What would’ve happened if I’d tempered my annoyance with both curiosity and grace? While her behavior was unacceptable, there’s a chance it might also be understandable. Perhaps she’d experienced a difficulty that day I knew nothing about, or even a loss my own heart couldn’t fathom.

Annoyance does nothing to lend comfort.

But kindness speaks calm to a storm.

“Fools show their annoyance at once,” Solomon said. By all accounts, I act like a fool more than not. I’m easily annoyed, especially with those closest to me, the ones living inside the walls of my house. Some days it doesn’t take much for my adolescent children to trigger a reaction. And, in many cases, their behavior deserves parental correction. But what if I responded to insults with kindness? What if my correction of them also included authentic connection? How might my calm demeanor melt the coolness of those around me?

After all, that is precisely what God does for us. When having a hard day, He doesn’t match my rudeness and obstinate  with His. Instead, He offers relationship, allowing His kindness to bring about the correction I so desperately need.

Have a blessed day!

 

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Come to Me

Thank you Wendy Speake for today’s message:

Since the start of the new year, three words have been ringing in my ears: “Come to Me.” Matthew 11:28 has been hidden in my heart for as long as I can remember, but recently I’ve heard the Lord speak this intimate invitation to me personally, in light of all the things I tend to run to, turn to, “come” to.

“Come to Me.”

As I turn to comfort food: “Come to Me, I’m the Great Comforter.”
As I turn on my computer; “Come to Me, I want to connect with you.”
As I head into Target for a little retail therapy, “Come to Me, let me be your Counselor.”
As I make a phone call to talk through my stress with a friend; “Come to Me… Call on Me!”
As I turn into Starbucks for something sweet; “Come to Me, my words are sweet as honey.”
As I scroll through Facebook; “Don’t follow them, follow Me. Come to Me.”
As I open up Amazon Prime; “Come to Me, I’m free and I’ll set you free!”
As I binge watch another late-night TV show; “Come. To. Me.”

“Come to Me.”

There are so many things that I mindlessly “come to” each day — so many things that I eat, read, watch, buy, consume… But God is speaking clearly to me: “Come to me, consume Me, and let me consume you.”

Are you weary and heavy laden? Experiencing a void that social media, food, and shopping simply can’t fill? Take the weight of it all to the Lord. If you’re worn out, exhausted, running to all the false gods this world has to offer… take it all to Him. He has the shoulders to carry your burdens. The One who shouldered the cross, can shoulder your pain. It’s what He does. Amazon Prime can’t do it. Facebook can’t do it. Brownies can’t do it for you either. It’s not their job. It’s God’s job.
“Come to Me.”

He is able to carry your hurting relationships square on His shoulders. He can handle your fears and your failures. He can carry your sin-struggles and your shame. He alone can carry the weight of it all, all the way up Calvary’s hill. And at the foot of the cross, He can lay it down on your behalf. In exchange for those heavy burdens, He offers His light yoke. That’s what He gives us when we give it all to Him.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

She Got More Likes Than I Did

Eph 1-4 AEG

“Should I delete my Instagram pic? I only got 12 likes in the first five minutes,” I overheard one of my daughters say to the other.

In typical mom fashion, I took that opportunity to remind them that their beauty, value and self‑worth did not hinge on the opinions, approvals or disapprovals of others, much less how many “likes” they received on a picture.

And of course, in typical young adult fashion, I got a couple of eye rolls. But that’s okay. Because every now and then, we all need to be reminded of the truth.

I get where they’re coming from, especially considering today’s online culture. I vividly remember what it felt like as a young girl to long for the approval and acceptance of others. I also remember the insecurities that festered in my heart over feeling like I didn’t measure up or wasn’t accepted by my peers, or by boys. I remember the painful sting of rejection or being excluded — and that was long before everything was on the Internet.

Unfortunately, those longings for acceptance, approval and love don’t end after high school or even college. Deep‑seated insecurities and the hurt of feeling rejected and unwanted are no less painful as an adult. In fact, those emotions are often personified as we look at others’ social media pages and see how many “friends” they have, how perfect their families look, how awesome their husbands seem to be, how great their lives appear and how many “likes” they get on their photos.

But the truth is, behind those photos, real life happens. And it’s not always pretty or perfect. In fact, those same women we think have it all together or get the most “likes,” probably struggle with deep hidden hurts and the constant unmet need to feel accepted and wanted. To feel loved and treasured, instead of set aside and rejected. To feel we’re enough, instead of inadequate.

I’m one of those women. Maybe you are, too.

But what comfort it brings to read Paul’s words to God’s people in today’s key verse: “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes” (Ephesians 1:4).

How reassuring to know there is One who always accepts us and thinks we are priceless. But the reassurances don’t stop there. Paul continues by telling believers, “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding” (Ephesians 1:5-8, NLT).

Whether we are 9‑ or 99‑years‑old, we all want to feel accepted, loved, approved of and liked. Maybe you long for the acceptance and love from a husband, a child, a friend or a community. Maybe there are days when you wonder if you are enough. Days when you lose sight of all the wonderful, unique things about yourself and instead focus on all the wonderful, unique things about everyone else. Everyone else who seems to be more accepted and “liked” than you.

Those are the days when the verses from Ephesians 1 become the perfect poetry to recite in our hearts. They serve as sweet reminders that we have not only been individually chosen by a sovereign God, but that we are also blessed, accepted, forgiven and redeemed. And you can’t get any more “liked” than that.

Thank you Tracie Miles.

Hope Wissel, Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Toss Fear Aside

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

Have you every thought “I’m tired of worrying yet you can’t seem to stop”?  Maybe the worry is whether or not you have enough money to pay the bills.  Maybe the worry about your aging parents.  Maybe the worry is about your children and the decisions they will make.  I am tired of worrying about (fill in the blank).

Worry is due to FEAR!  I feel like I have had fear since my early teens.  Fear of rejection. Fear of failing.  Fear of success.  Fear of not being good enough.  Fear of being alone.  I stuffed the feelings and moved forward in my career.  Fear surfaced when I made mistakes or when I was about to make a change personally or professionally.  Somewhere along the way, I started to believe that fear was just a fact of life and I could do nothing to change it.  I started to believe that I was alone with my fears.

How wrong I was!

When I started truly believing that God had a plan for me and he was in control, the worry subsided.  Notice I didn’t say go away because those evil gremlins try to rear their heads when I least expect it.  We can decide though what we want to with with our fears.  Here are some truths:

 

Truth #1: Other people do worry; they just don’t talk about it or let it consume their lives

Truth #2: Worry and fear must be a normal because God tells us not to, over 100 times in the Bible.

Truth #3: God doesn’t just tell us not to worry or fear, He tells us what to do when we do!

 

 

ball toss

Picture your worry as a ball.  What do you want to do with the ball?  Do you want to toss it or do you want to hold on to it? No, we aren’t going to have a game of catch because we truly want to rid ourselves of the fear that is holding us back.

Let’s toss the worry (ball) to God and let him handle it.  As we do that, let’s ask for peace – not a solution and thank him for taking care of things in the past.  How does that feel?  Do you feel relief?  Try that with each worry that you have today and see what happens.

Each time that we do this, we strengthen our faith and our ability to decide what to do when hard times come.  It allows us to see that we can either control the fear or let the fear control us.  Which way would you prefer to live?

Share your thoughts with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!