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Mastering Love
Said the Sparrow
Waiting Well
Aging Grace-full-y
Facing the Unknown

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Fresh Starts -- Second Chances

Mastering Love

In the world of business and commerce, a person doesn’t advance to the next level without first mastering the basics. You don’t go from dishwasher to sous chef until you can Julienne carrots and sauté an onion to perfection. It’s unlikely you’ll be promoted from cashier to CFO without a CPA or MBA—and both of these degrees require taking exams and passing them.

Why is it that in the Church world we give ourselves promotions before becoming proficient at the most basic Christianity 101 skills?

So you don’t think I’m jabbing a finger at you, let me make this personal and you can watch as I point at myself in the mirror.

For the past three days I’ve read Luke 6:27-36 and I’m wondering why I’ve let myself skate across this passage so many times in the past—knowing what it says, yet failing to dissect it and apply each verse to my life before moving on. I read “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you,” and I nod and say “Amen” and keep on reading.

But do I? Do I love my enemies and bless and do good and pray for those who mistreat me?

I think my cop-out has always been the intensity of the words “hate” and “curse” and “mistreat.” I honestly don’t know of anyone who sincerely hates me. (Here’s your chance to come forward if you do, and test my love skills!) I live in a Christian bubble where I’m not cursed at or mistreated. So I’m good, right? Moving on . . .

But what if the day comes that I’m face-to-face with someone who hates or mistreats me because of who I am or what I believe? Will I be able to respond with blessing if I haven’t come close to mastering the art of loving those I don’t especially LIKE?

This week, I read a harsh post written by a friend whose political views are the polar opposite of mine. What welled up in me as I read her criticism of many people who share my views, was not blessing. My first response was not to pray for her or find a way to bless her. My knee-jerk reaction was to block her.

And then I read again . . . love, do good, bless, pray. And so I take a deep breath and determine to do it.

And five seconds later admit I can’t.

Nothing in my humanness can respond to cursing with kindness or criticism with grace. Nothing in my flesh is prepared to reach out in love to someone who trashes my beliefs. And so I confess . . . Lord, forgive me for even trying to do this by an act of my will. Only You can do this. Holy Spirit, expand this stone cold hard, make it pliable enough that you can love her through me.

I’ll be stuck on this passage for a long time. Come to think of it, I will never master it. But maybe I’ll get better at responding with prayer, with turning it over to the Master and getting out of His way so he can love, do good, and bless through me.

Anyone else feel the need to stay in an entry-level position a little longer, as apprentice to the Master, before moving on?
 
 
 

 

Said the Sparrow

My mother passed away five years ago. Today would have been her 99th birthday . . . read more at Putting on the New.

Waiting Well

Our small group is doing a Kyle Idleman video study called "The End of Me." Thursday night we watched a testimony of a woman who knew God had called her to minister in a certain area, but after she got "the call," she waited on God in prayer for a year and a half . . . read more at Putting on the New.

Aging Grace-full-y

I’ve always had a fascination for objects that have been around a long time. I pick up a silver spoon, slanted at the tip from years of stirring, and wonder about my grandmother’s favorite dishes . . . more

Facing the Unknown

Some years back, two of my sons and a friend were camping in Missouri. One night, they heard a rustling in the brush. The noise grew louder, closer. And then it stopped. The next night around dusk, they heard it again. What was it? Continue reading atPutting on the New Blog.

Fight for Joy

(blogging at Putting on the New  today)

I woke yesterday morning to a fresh, white world, snow sparkling like diamonds. Not the kind of beauty I really wanted to see in the second week of April, but still something to appreciate. And then came the text:Feel like a road trip?more . . . 

No Wasted Steps


Life lesson in a bracelet:

Hubby gave me a Fitbit for our anniversary and this fashionable little accessory is literally changing the way I look at life.

You know those times when you walk into a room and then have no idea what you were looking for? From the moment I put this on, I quit chastening myself for those senior moments. Because now every wrong step "counts" in exactly the same way the intended ones do! 

Life lesson? Think of the missteps you've made in life. Poor choice, unwise relationship, wanting to do things your way instead of God's. We've all suffered the consequences of dumb decisions and selfish motives. But how many of those missteps led you to a blessing--a lesson learned, wisdom gained, a testimony of God's mercy and forgiveness, a story to tell someone about to make a wrong step. 

I've lived long enough to have a significant list of ways God has used my mistakes. Though I may wish I could have learned a lesson or gained experience in a less painful way, one thing is certain--those missteps are never wasted.

  

Because of This

I’ve been sorting through old pictures and reflecting on the past lately, thinking of all of the one-thing-led-to-another moments in our lives.

That train of thought brought me back to 1968. I was a selfish seventeen-year-old girl who broke up with her boyfriend and then was miserable because of it. And then my father died suddenly of a heart attack, and in the midst of my shock and sadness, the boy I’d hurt came alongside me and held me up. And BECAUSE OF THIS I was humbled and changed and grew up a little. 

And BECAUSE OF THIS, we were married two years later.


Seven years later, in 1979, our two-year-old son fell off a slide. As I scooped him up, I had no idea that God would use that one terrifying moment to direct the course of our future. 

BECAUSE OF THIS, we took him to a chiropractor. BECAUSE OF THIS, when my husband was laid off from his job, he decided to embark on a new career path in chiropractic. BECAUSE OF THIS, we moved from Wisconsin to Iowa and then to a new town in Wisconsin. BECAUSE OF THIS, we drove past a rustic sign pointing to a little white church. BECAUSE OF THIS, we became part of a wonderful Christian family. 

BECAUSE OF THIS, our oldest son became a counselor at a church camp. BECAUSE OF THIS, he met a beautiful co-counselor and fell in love.


BECAUSE we moved to a place where we saw that sign and joined that church, my second son was sitting on the floor in the basement of his youth leaders’ home when a girl he’d never met walked down the stairs. My son told his friend, “I’m going to marry that girl.” And so he did. And BECAUSE he was the little boy who fell off the slide and BECAUSE OF THIS had grown up benefiting from the chiropractic lifestyle, this boy also became a doctor of chiropractic.


Also BECAUSE OF joining that church, my third son found his best friend. And that friend had a beautiful sister. And pretty soon my son had a new best friend. 


And then another family joined the church and they had a beautiful daughter. And my fourth son picked on her for years before the teasing and laughter turned to love.


And, BECAUSE OF ALL OF THIS, we are the ridiculously blessed grandparents of fifteen amazing kids and on Friday we celebrated 44 years of marriage.

Whatever you’re facing, remember that this--this painful or frightening or regret-filled season or moment--could be the spark that sets off a chain reaction that leads to blessings beyond anything you can imagine.


Do you have a BECAUSE OF THIS story?

Because of Brokenness

Feeling shattered? Never doubt that God can use your brokenness. I'm sharing personal experience at Putting on the New

BREAK IT UP!

I've been on an organizing binge the last few weeks--to the extent that I have my hubby worried I might be pregnant and nesting. Poor man is terrified!! ;)

When this urge to purge closets and drawers comes over me, I can be a little difficult to live with because I'm obsessed with doing it ALL NOW. I want everything in nice, neat labeled boxes TODAY. Add to that the fact it isn't just my junk I want to donate to the Salvation Army, and you have a recipe for marital tension. 

When the obsession takes over, I have to have a "Let's be rational" talk with myself. Let's make a list, prioritize, and break it up into small, doable chunks. Let's decide not to exhaust ourself . . . or our husband's patience! The all-or-nothing part of my brain argues with the (teeny-tiny) logical part and then I give in and make the list. 

It's far more rewarding to get out the red pen and cross off "organize top shelf" than to spew the contents of your closet into a pile and only make a dent in it by the end of the day. 

This approach also works well for someone like me who is a slug when it comes to exercise. Years ago, a friend gave me a guest pass to Curves. I loved their system of half a minute at one station or machine, a brief rest, then half a minute on the next. What a breakthrough. I can do anything for 30 seconds! At home, I can spread it out over the whole day. Set the time for every two hours and exercise for five minutes. Repeat 6 times throughout the day and you've moved your body for 30 minutes.

I started using the "circuit" idea even for daily chores. Did you know you don't have to clean a whole bathroom all at once? Did you know you can clean the toilet in the morning and the sink in the afternoon? If you're really radical, you can spread it out over the whole week--one task a day--and start the cycle over again on Monday. Everything gets cleaned once a week and it never seems like a time-consuming chore. What a revelation to an All-or-Nothing! 

I'm trying to apply the "break it up" method to my entire life. I had an ironic insight recently while trying to memorize Romans 12. When I read "Be transformed by the renewing of your minds," I want that--and I want it NOW! Change those thoughts. Now! But the only way I can memorize that whole chapter is in small chunks--a verse or two a day. Exactly the way I should be working on my thoughts. Today, I'm going to focus on letting no unwholesome (impatient, sarcastic) words set up camp in my head. Tomorrow I may work on selfish or judgmental thoughts. In approximately 30 years I should be close to a totally renewed mind!

This works for that Guilt List of all the people I haven't written to or called in way too long. One email or card a day is doable. One "let's do lunch" call a week is more than doable. 

ALL OR NOTHING___________________LOGICAL PACING 

  • Where are you on this continuum? 
  • What are you facing that you need to break up into doable chunks? 
  • Any tips for a reforming gotta-get-it-done-now person?  

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