Grace and the Will to Put it on Display

Motherhood and grace should go hand in hand.  It’s a tough job, and when things get crazy or you mess up, it can be so relieving to find grace in others’ view of you…in how they react. Grace received from your own children and husband goes a long way. But sometimes grace from a stranger can go even further.

Last weekend, I was having a good time with several of Braylon’s friends in our garage. We decided to do an art project around a table. Braylon finished pretty quickly and joined his friend from school, “J”, in the driveway. This was just the 2nd time he’d come over to play, and I’d recently had a bad miscommunication with his mother, but wrote her a loving note to try & work it out… and a few weeks later we seemed to be fine. So the other day,  Braylon & “J” were skateboarding for a while and then they started fake-sword-fighting (while I was painting, etc. with 3 other lil ones, about 15 ft away).

Then I hear “J’ complaining about his arm hurting. He wasn’t crying, but I got up to see why it hurt. I saw several dots of blood on it, from where Braylon got him with his “fake sword”. Thing is, Braylon wasn’t thinking and chose a dangerous tool to use as his “fake sword” – one he’d gotten from our grill – the kind with strong, wire bristles for cleaning a grill. I examined the tool and had Bray apologize, as it looked like it did hurt. But they weren’t fighting maliciously and Bray didn’t get him intentionally. Nonetheless, I was concerned so later that day, I text’d his mother, telling her briefly what happened, that it was an accident and was sorry, & asking how her son was doing. She replied “some brusing and a few drop of blood…”. Two days later (Monday, I believe) “J” came to my mind again and I was concerned, so I text’d her again to follow up on his arm’s condition. Although I didn’t actually see the short sword-fight, I couldn’t imagine his arm still hurting from how it looked shortly after. I expected her to say he’s much better….or it’s almost healed; thanks for asking.

I deleted her reply, but it was very similar to this: “its pretty messed up. i am very upset with your son. i will never let him play with my son again. frankly, i question your intelligence”.  This is the 2nd time this mother’s reacted to me in this way, so I don’t know why I was shocked. I guess I’m just not used to it. It’s so contrasting to how my friends would react.

Although I felt terrible, and wanted to reply, I didn’t. I felt anything I would say would not help.

Fast-Fwd to yesterday (Tuesday), at the Wal*Mart check-out:  I had bought my food and was waiting for carry-out help while I watched the lady behind me. Her daughter (2-3 yrs old) was sitting on the ground toward the middle of the isle. I watched as another lady headed through the isle with her cart half-full of groceries. I saw her look & notice the little girl, and continue on, but to her surprise, she’d misjudged where her cart’s wheels were heading and ran right over the little girl’s fingers. I saw it. And I heard the “bump-bump”. Then I heard nothing. There seemed to be a full minute that passed before that girl could catch her breath enough to let out the most horrendous, glass-shatterin’ cry. Her mommy swooped her up, and the lady rushed back and must’ve apologized 3 times as she intermittently self-checked her food, explaining that she honestly thought she had enough room to go by.

The little girl’s mom responded several times back with a smile, “Oh, it’s ok. She’ll be ok.”  or, “It’s her nap time & she’s tired. I think I’ll just give her some Tylenol & put her down for a nap when we get home.” Another time she said, “Things like this happen sometimes. Pleeaase, don’t feel bad. Her fingers were kind of out there too far, I think”. I watched the guilt-ridden woman listen to these words of honey, hoping they’d be received… hoping they’d resound louder than the cries of pain.

After the woman left, and the mom was still there, paying, I walked up to her & thanked her. She looked at me, confused. I explained briefly that earlier this week, I’d had a mom react to something my son did that accidentally hurt her son – & the reaction I got was, well, quite opposite. I said how it was so refreshing to witness one mom showing so much grace to another.

I guess I was hormonal and had teared up while talking, cause the next thing I know, I hear this big, kind stranger say, “awwwwwwe!” and was squeezed in her compassionate bear-hug! When she let go, I guess she thought I needed more affirmation and proceeded to tell me a little story about how she could relate, when a mom at a park “went off” on her. She then wished me a good day & went on her way.

It seemed to really work out that it took Wal*Mart employees 12 minutes to find someone for car carry-out that day. After a few minutes of waiting, I was going to just go. But I really wanted to see how everything played out.  Had they helped me immediately with all my groceries, like some grocery stores offer, I’d have missed this scene – this demonstration of grace and love to a stranger. It’s one thing to treat someone you love with such grace, but another to extend it to your neighbor … to a stranger in the store, a park, a post office. How ’bout someone who has crossed you – someone who you don’t like?  How are you different than anyone in this God-forsaken world if you show a hostile attitude or even indifference to those people? Nothing sets you apart.

Specifically, I think it’s so important for mothers to stick together and support each other. That’s part of why I’ve been involved in mom’s groups for many years. We need to hold each other up with reliable encouragement, honesty & prayer. Keep each other accountable. Live in an exemplary way for our children, almost going out of our way to brighten another mom’s week…WEEKLY.  I know I’m miles away from living this consistently, but dangitall if I’m not gonna make it my goal. Life is too short to not make your mark of grace on everyone you can, especially other moms.

That’s my 2¢.

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Holiness & Anger

Two words that don’t seem likely to go hand-in-hand. I’ve been thinking lately about holiness. I used to think of it more like perfection. But now I think of it more like a glass of water that is continually being poured through a filtering system to get the impurities out. It’s the result of being set apart for a divine purpose. A love & a striving for all that is holy, or of God. Remember that song by Sonic Flood? It went:

“Holiness, Holiness is what I long for. Holiness is what I need. Holiness, Holiness is what you want from me…So, take my heart and form it. Take my mind and transform it. Take my will and conform it. To Yours, to Yours, oh, Lord. ”

What a fantastic prayer.  Dictionary.com puts it this way:

Holiness

Ho”li*ness\, n. [AS. h[=a]lignes.]

1. The state or quality of being holy; perfect moral integrity or purity; freedom from sin; sanctity; innocence.

2. The state of being hallowed, or consecrated to God or to his worship; sacredness.

But QUESTION: How can anyone love or strive for holiness without hating that which is not holy? Enter, Anger. That’s why Jesus turned the tables twice in the sacred temple. Greed, abuse & manipulation were inhabiting the house of a holy God.  His Son was not about to sit quietly and let it go on.

In a country, even a world that is becoming increasingly and uncomfortably comfortable with the ideal of “embracing tolerance”, can I just suggest that Jesus was not a tolerant Man? Intolerant of sin, that is. Lemme break it down like it’s in my head – in James it reads that to him who knows something is wrong and does it anyway…and to him who knows what is right and does not do it…to him, this is sin. We are not to identify neil-anderson1ourselves as sinners (according to author & spiritual warrior, Neil Anderson who backs it up by scripture), but as saints who sin. I struggle with sin every day. Lately it’s been laziness, a judgmental spirit, idolizing other things above God…& more. I hate that my sin separates me from & angers & saddens the God I love.  But if we’re to strive for holiness, then sin, as defined above, should anger & sadden us too! It directly opposes everything we stand for as its deceit craftily drives a wedge between us and our amazing Creator.

A Heavy Burden for People we Love

I believe that God has placed a heavy burden in the heart of each one of his people. Different burdens, of course, for different people. Some may have a strong desire to reach out to women who’ve had abortions. Some are brokenhearted & feel empathetic toward pregnant teens. Some have a burden for abused or neglected children. Some want to reach out to homosexuals. Some, like me, for prisoners…

If we have been given a burden for a people, then we gotta start expressing some anger. Not toward these people, but toward the sin that has affected their lives, whether they’re engaging in it or are they are affected by someone else’s sin. Let anger come out in prayer… or why not give in financial support for a cause to fight against suffering?!

See Sin for What it is – DEATH

We can’t just sit around & let sin infiltrate our lives! We can’t just let it continue to seep through the cracks of society and affect those we love. If we love them & they are open to truth in love, let’s keep them accountable. The Bible is clear: a sinful lifestyle’s price is death, even if you once professed Jesus as Lord. And God would have no one die. He wants all of us to be in constant self-examination, in a state of humble repentance, and have eternal life.

angry

So if you’re pissed off about something you hear about or see on the evening news, don’t just sit & squirm in your overstuffed sofa. Don’t turn the channel. Listen to what bothers you and volunteer and pray for those people! God did not give you a burden for them for you to ignore it or become bitter. Not that everything that bothers you, you should have a burden for. But I’m thinkin’ we should all just ask God to reveal what it is – what certain sins or sinful lifestyles make us deeply sad – what cause will we uplift, what people will we support- and do it with a holy anger.

Ask for the courage to go out & turn some tables of your own.

Hillsong’s “Healer” – Born from deceit, but thrives in churches still

This last weekend, one of the songs we sang at church was “Healer” by Hillsong…no, by Planet Shakers…actually, by Mike Guglielmucci! I hadn’tthis-is-our-god-3 heard the song since Hillsong’s newest CD came out like 5 months ago. So I’m up there on stage, singing away, reading the words line by line, and the Spirit was just movin’ like a smooth wave over our church!  The words are full of power and truth. Half way through the song, I remembered the circumstances of how/why the author wrote it…the “tragedy” and all the deception that was exposed about his alleged terminal cancer. But that didn’t keep the tears away. Judgement and anger may have quenched the fire, but when my focus remained on those words, those words were all that mattered.

Deception and sin are no match for the power of the Holy Spirit at Work in the hearts of His people. When we worship in spirit & truth, then His Spirit & His Truth dwells in us. And when that happens, there’s no room for dissention or lies…so our enemy is kicked…to…the…curb.

You hold my every moment
You calm my raging seas
You walk with me through fire
And heal all my disease

I trust in You (x2)

I believe You’re my Healer
I believe You are all I need
I believe You’re my Portion
I believe You’re more than enough for me
Jesus You’re all I need
My Healer, You’re my Healer

Nothing is impossible for You (x3)
You hold my world in Your hands

night terror

what are they? a night terror (pavor nocturnus) is a parasomnia sleep disorder characterized by extreme terror and a temporary inability to regain full consciousness. the subject wakes abruptly from deep slow-wave sleep, gasping, moaning or screaming. after the episode, the subject normally settles back to sleep without waking. a night terror can rarely be recalled.

they’re not nightmares. they’re not recalled dreams. they’re a controlling combo of anxiety, tension & fear, (usually of insects or other attacking things) lasting as short as 1 minute… up to 20. the lack of a dream itself leaves those awakened in a state of disorientation much more severe than that caused by a normal nightmare. amnesia can follow, leaving one unable to recall their name or location for a short time.

what happens? my husband (who gives permission to write this) has suffered from this sleep disorder for years. his terrors are based around snakes or suffocation. Continue reading

eye to eye ~ the importance of showing love with your eyes

a cheerful look brings joy to the heart – Proverbs 13:30

braylon (5) was walking around a corner & decided he’d belly-push angel to the ground. ricky & i both just looked at him for 6 sec.s as angel cried. we were shocked he’d try this stunt after so many reminders. but i suppose we also did it as a way of showing our disappointment. what followed was interesting:

braylon’s look turned from satisfied to almost angry, ‘what. why are you staring at me? why is everybody staring at me?!’ he inquired. his lip started quivering. we looked a couple seconds longer & he exclaimed w/a tear dropping down his cheek, “why did you yell at me?!”

ricky & i exchanged a glance of revelation. we never said a word to him. it got me thinkin’.

an area in which i think i harbor a ton of pride, is my parenting. i think moms want to believe deep down that they’re the best. to be complimented as such by another mom is the ultimate up-lifter. conversely, to be called a bad mom or even if someone criticizes our discipling, this seems like the lowest, most degrading insult!

i had to face a weakness. i’m not the ‘bestest mom in the whole earth’ as bray would have me believe. there are things i can & should take more time to work on, but don’t. each day presents with it a new way to improve. it’s discouraging and challenging. i pray for the determination & the strength & the wisdom to become the best mom i can. like the wisdom my brain has soaked up from reading “how to really love your child’. dr. campbell wrote a whole chapter explaining ‘how to show love through eye contact’. with statements that seem so simple, i wonder why i need reminding. just take a look at a few excerpts:

The more a parent makes eye contact with his/her child as a means of expressing love, the more a child is nourished with love and the fuller is his emotional tank.

It is easy for parents to develop the terrible habit of using eye contact primarily when they want to make a strong point to a child, especially a negative one. We find that a child is most attentive when we look at him straight in the eye. We may do this mainly to give instructions or for reprimanding or criticizing. This is a disastrous mistake.

Remember that eye contact is one of the main sources of a child’s emotional nurturing. When a parent uses this powerful means of control at his disposal in a primarily negative way, a child cannot but see his parent in a primarily negative way. And though this may seem to have good results when a child is young, this child is obedient & docile because of fear. As he grows older, the fear gives way to anger, resentment, and depression.

An even worse habit parents may fall into is actually using the avoidance of eye contact as a punishment device. Consciously refusing to make eye contact with a child is usually more painful than corporal punishment. It can be devastating.

What we must understand at this point is that parents must use eye contact as a continuous love-giving route, and not merely as a means of discipline.

the Lord has gently shown me this week that I may not be the ‘most’ beautiful woman or the ‘bestest’ mom on the whole earth, but in me ~ is God’s image. in me ~ is the power to do all things. in me ~ resides beauty & strength (insert my girl, christina‘s song, ‘beautiful’ here).

seriously…i want God to help me use my eyes to communicate love, not disappointment! even yesterday, i started a new phrase to be a better example ~ i get up in my son’s face when i want to say something in love & i start with, ‘eye to eye’.

Lord, look at me in the eye & work out the kinks (psalm 139:23). forgive me. i need grace; new opportunities. show me how to show them that my love, too, is unconditional.

that bites

so as devoted followers of Jesus, we’re to teach our lil ones to respond as he did, to injustice…and at the same time manage a healthy level of self-respect, right? easier said than done. case in point: earlier this week braylon was standing in the cafeteria line w/a crispy bill in hand, about to order some highly anticipated ice cream. classmate, christopher sees the dollar & snatches it right out of bray’s hand. what’s bray’s 1st response? not to tell a teacher or nearby assist. principal, not to even ask for it back. no, he decided that the best way to get chris to let go of the dollar would naturally be, to bite the boy’s forearm as hard as he could.

sure, it shows he’s not gonna let anyone take advantage of him (thanks 4 that positive spin, gramma!) but is that what i’m after? how should i teach him to respond to the injustice in his life? Jesus had no issues w/self -respect, yet some would say he let people walk all over him. he never retaliated physically. he retaliated with the spoken word…and sometimes even silence. he basically told judas, ‘do what you gotta do’. he turned his other cheek. he stood, shaking & dripping in blood that good friday, while soldiers whipped him until he looked un-human. oh, he had plenty of power to ‘stand up for himself’ & retaliate, but his power was harnessed w/love & restraint. eugene peterson paraphrased it this way:

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.

how do we respond to the injustice in our lives? guess the answers are right there ~ study & reflect Christ, speak the truth in love, trust the Father to deal w/anyone who mistreats u & never lose sight of the joy & place of honor set before you. you’ll get that ice cream.