Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Learning To Love

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“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)

You’ve probably heard the old adage, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Well, I beg to differ. I’ve learned at least one new thing. Every. Single. Day. Of the last year and a half.

Most of the lessons have come courtesy of a joyful 6-year-old Haitian with a wee rambunctious streak named Missy, who officially became my daughter in April 2014 after a tumultuous two-year adoption process.

My little girl has a brave warrior spirit and a predisposition to wiggle gleefully in the grocery store and greet bemused shoppers with the invitation, “Hello ma’am, do chu wanna dance wid my mama and me?” My little girl also has HIV.

She was unwittingly infected by her biological mom who, like far too many people living in impoverished conditions in third world countries, never got tested and died of AIDS without ever realizing she had it.

As a result of Missy’s disease, one of the first new lessons I learned was about loving more people, more. My tutoring session took place in the private non-chain pharmacy we visit monthly that specializes in meds for people with HIV and AIDS. They don’t sell candy, cards, breakfast cereal, toothpaste or Chia pets, just pricey medicine for pretty sick folks. It’s tucked away on the fifth floor of an old building that used to house a low-budget shopping mall.

Of course, at first some of the other customers glanced at us with curiosity. This was probably because — with Missy dressed in a plaid school uniform and a bow bigger than her head, and me wrapped in my whole harried, disheveled look — they assumed we were lost.

Some even hurdle over benign curiosity and jump straight to barely disguised contempt. This aptly describes the man with an angry expression who rode up the elevator with us one visit. He literally averted his gaze and exhaled in protest when Missy blurted out happily, “Hello Sur! How awe you?”

I put my hand protectively on her shoulder and tried to scoot her a few inches away, but this was one time her ardor was not easily redirected. She tugged on his sleeve and persisted with more animation, “I’m Missy Haar-Purr. I’m FIVE! And this is my MAMA Haar-Purr!”

He threw me a look of frustration and exhaled louder. It was all I could do not to grin at his surprised expression when we walked into the pharmacy behind him and the darling employees swarmed Missy like a bevy of favorite aunts.

He seemed startled when they asked her to sing and she responded by belting out the praise chorus of “Your Great Name” followed by an enthusiastic, hip-swiveling encore of “Shake Your Booty.” (Missy’s musical repertoire is surprisingly vast.)

A few minutes later, after she’d proclaimed, “I lub ya’ll!” she handed a big sucker to each one of the staff. Then Missy turned to the man, held up her last remaining lollipop, and asked sweetly, “Wood chu like a sucker, Sur?”

His expression softened as he leaned down and replied gently, “Well, yes, honey. I believe I would.” My daughter hugged him before bellowing a rather bossy “Goodbye Sur, it was nice to meed you!” At which point he reached over her head and shook my hand.

When our eyes met, we both smiled. I couldn’t speak, because I was too close to tears. But I don’t think we needed any more words. Enough had already been said.

What Thanksgiving does annually for my waistline, Missy has done for my heart. She’s increased my capacity to “be kind and compassionate to one another,” which is exactly the kind of effect the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit has on Christ-followers.

Our Heavenly Father’s forgiveness and acceptance causes our hearts to expand far beyond our previous boundaries. As maturing Christians, we’ll scoot past simply being consumers of grace and become carriers of grace, becoming brave enough to embrace people we never noticed before as we seek to act like Christ.

Thank you Lisa Harper and Encouragement for Today.

 

Hope Wissel, Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Grace In Your Marriage

Sunday – a day to reflect, relax and recharge.  The first day of the February, a day to press the reset button on January and start fresh.

Grace is defined as “God’s unmerited favor. It is kindness from God we don’t deserve.  It is a gift from God.”

This blog contains excerpts of a blog from Women Living Well entitled “5 Ways to Embrace Grace in Our Marriages“.

1.) Grace sees with fresh eyes and a new perspective.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

How often do we give grace to our children, our friends and even strangers but when it comes to our husbands we have EXPECTATIONS.  As I am growing and learning, I realize that everyone, especially hubby needs grace.  We talk about ‘random acts of kindness” to others, why not a random act of kindness for our husbands?

2.)  Grace does not focus on failed expectations and the shortcomings of our husband.

Okay, tell me that I am not alone in this are.  We tend to focus on the negatives being a Negative Nellie.  Why?  Because I was not happy inside. I didn’t like me very much.  It had nothing to do with hubby.  The one word that I HATE is “expect” and when someone says it, the hair on the back of my neck stands up.  Yet, I have expectations of my hubby.  I expect him to know what I need without saying.  I expect him to understand when things are wrong.  The list of expectations can grow on any given day.  As I focus more on my relationship with God, I found those expectations leaving and I was becoming more accepting.  I can now take into account his personality, the home he was raised in and his current walk with God.  I have expected hubby to meet the needs that only God could meet. Grace has released my hubby from a wife who criticizes his shortcomings or whines about her unmet needs and replaces her disappointment with the joy of the Lord.

3.) Grace Forgives.

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. ~Matthew 18:21-22

I feel like I should be singing “Let It Go” from Frozen.  I have seen the movie and the song plays in my head as a constant reminder to “let things go”.  So, are you holding on to a hurt that your husband cannot heal for you? YUP!  It is time to let go of my old baggage.  It is time to let go of the old hurts. It is time to let go and let God.  For when I forgive myself, and place things at His feet AND leave them, I can find peace and joy in my marriage.

4.) Grace puts on compassion and gentleness.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. ~Ephesians 4:32

SMACK! Having been an “independent woman”, I tend to forget the heavy burden that my husband carries.  I figure I know what he is going through, I mean I was a single mom, right?  The truth is I never really had anyone “carry the load” for me as an adult.  I am always amazed at how hubby’s thought process works and how his is forever putting me (and Belinda) first.  I am learning about the broad shoulders that God gave men.  It is so they can carry the weight of the family every day.  I need to remember that he has worries too.  That he needs compassion so that he can be built up to continue to carry that heavy load.

5.) Grace prays.

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. ~ James 5;16

It’s easy to nag, criticize, or try to control your husband.  It’s hard to sit back and pray.  Truer words have never been spoken.  I am learning to PAUSE and pray before I find fault and criticize hubby.  It has made a world of difference in our marriage.

I am blessed to be married to an AMAZING man.  I am learning each day to be the wife that God wants me to be.  Do you need to extend a wee bit more grace in your marriage?  God has given us grace and now it is time to extend that grace to our husbands.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

#grace #contentment #marriage #compassion #letgoandletGod