Goodness Gracious!

This has been a doozy of moving summer . . .

Exams – Graduations – Selling Our House – Leaving Our Son at College Making Our Nest Truly Empty – Managing 3 Moves in 1 Summer – Starting New Jobs – Adjusting to Living Overseas

Right now, we’re still waiting for the majority of our belongings to arrive, we’re working through getting acclimated to new stores, new places, new road rules, and for me, it’s all in a new language.

God has been Good, and I’ve witnessed His Grace extended to our family and me over this whole period.  It hasn’t been easy; we’ve all had times of fear, grieving losses, saying good-byes, and loneliness.  But, there are also feelings of excitement for all the new beginnings. 

Eventually, we’ve all had to come to a place where we have had to let go and move forward – again.  God has been faithful to provide and orchestrate so many good things.  Things having to do with timing, relationships, and working through mistakes we’ve made. 

By all means, the transition is far from over, but I think the initial jolt has passed.

As an aside and reintroduction – I wasn’t sure if I would write again.  I am fighting my natural tendency to hide and stay private.  I’ve learned that is a pretty safe thing to do – especially when in a new place.  But – I don’t think God wants me to stay hidden and safe.  As long as the Holy Spirit puts on my heart something to put on this blog, I will stay obedient.  I don’t understand how what I write matters much, but I know it’s not about what I think or imagine as long as I commit and submit the whole of it to God.

So, full disclosure, I am not a theologian.  I have not attended seminary, and what I write is based on what God is teaching me through His Holy Word, prayer, life experiences, and spiritual growth.  I can only share my perspective, and knowing that, I understand others’ perspectives may differ.  As long as you, the readers, understand and agree that we are all going through life together, learning as we go, when we have disagreements, may we do so in good faith that God is teaching us through His Holy Spirit and one another.

I know that with rebooting this blog, I want to post with greater consistency, committing to at least one post a month. I love getting feedback from you, the readers. I do review the comments before they go public, so if you don’t see your comment right away, it may be because I haven’t seen your comment yet. It may take a little time especially since I am in a drastically different time zone than anyone in the US.

When I was young, memorizing scripture was part of Sunday school, Sunbeams, and the many other organized church activities that was just a basic expectation for our family. The emphasis was to learn it in order to apply it. 

“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” Psalm 119: 11 (ESV).

The verses I memorized as a child were instrumental in how I developed my faith and guided my decisions.  As an adult, I find it exhilarating to review those simple, basic verses to see the absolute beauty and truth in them.  One of the earliest memory verses I can remember is the Fruit of the Spirit, found in Galatians. 

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law” Galatians 5: 22 – 23 (HCSB).

Two simple verses with a nice, tidy list that should be simple to memorize, right?  Yet, I still have trouble remembering all nine virtues, so I know it is good to spend some time here.

I will be writing about those virtues for the next several posts. This will be kind of like a Bible study series. I am sure there are many other Bible studies, sermons, and devotions written on the Fruit of the Spirit.  In order to maintain originality, I am choosing to not read and present someone else’s thoughts.  If I do find something that I think is valuable to add to the conversation, I will most certainly give credit and reference the author. However, as someone who grew up with these kinds of scriptures as foundational building blocks, I think it’s important to consider them again through the eyes of an adult, rather than a child.

Let’s start with Goodness.

“Taste and see that the LORD is good. How happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!” Psalm 34:8

An online definition of goodness is as follows:

  1. the state or quality of being good.
  2. moral excellence; virtue.
  3. kindly feeling; kindness; generosity.
  4. excellence of quality:goodness of workmanship.
  5. the best part of anything; essence; strength.

(https://www.dictionary.com/browse/goodness)

Since goodness and righteousness are so closely related, it can be a bit tricky to not get sidetracked to issues that are sensitive and divisive, like self-righteousness and condescending judgmental attitudes. I’ve touched on those topics in previous posts, specifically Judgmental Christians and Not That Big of Deal. I want us to consider the positive associations of goodness. 

Yet, good and righteous are so close, that there are times when I am faced with a real dilemma.  As an example, there’s a question that is often found on surveys that I find difficult to answer.  I’ve seen it in one variation or another, but essentially it asks –

‘Do you believe most people are basically good?’

I struggle with this question because on one hand, yes, I do believe most people do try to be good, make good choices, and view themselves as mostly good, myself included. However, scripture tells us that no one is good, or righteous, and that we all need salvation. 

“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” Romans 3:22 – 24 (NIV).

Like the word “love”, I think “goodness” gets used in a variety of ways.  It starts to become diluted, weakened, and even twisted to mean the opposite.

Someone can be labeled a goody, two shoes, something can be called too good to be true, and even lyrics are used to show that it isn’t good to be good as in “The Good Die Young.”

And of course, the quote often used to justify bad or rebellious behavior of women – “Well-behaved women seldom make history” (1976, L. T. Ulrich).

I mean, really, who thinks of goodness as a powerful virtue?  There’s excitement in doing the wrong thing sometimes.

Paul writes about Moses, “He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin” (NLT). Hebrews 11:25

First, I think we need to discuss moral development and our tendency to put goodness on a rating scale.  For example, children often see the world in black and white, something is either good or bad, with nothing in between.  If a young child has a bad or scary experience with a dog, then in that child’s mind, all dogs are bad.  As an even better example, we’ll use the “rule” that most children learn, that it is bad to write on walls. 

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

As we get older, and we develop more advanced cognitive abilities, we soon find our childhood beliefs challenged and we test the boundaries.

So, a child decides to write on a bathroom wall or desk.  The “rule” becomes a little grayer as we begin to rationalize our actions as not so bad, better, or worse.  That’s when we here things like, “Everyone else is doing it,” “She did it first,” “I only wrote . . .,” and so forth.  If you wrote something small where others had already written, and nobody seemed to get into trouble, then you were still pretty good.  You weren’t going against what was socially acceptable.  But, if you wrote something like a threat with curse words in a conspicuous area, where no one was supposed to write, for everyone to see, then, you were a “BAD” kid.  And bad kids were ostracized and punished.  (Or by some students, completely accepted and considered heroes, especially in middle school where rebellion is normal and developmentally appropriate, depending on the target of the threat.)

As adults, we have pieces of our childhood lessons mixed in with our ability to think abstractly and greater experience.  We are able to rationalize even more, and we can hold several different positions at the same time.  The action of the child was bad, the child is not bad, and if we know what the child is going through at home, or in the school, we are likely to blame the parents – then the parents are bad.

Okay.  Enough.  There’s a vicious circle to it.

Society says we all have our own truth.  We certainly all have our own perspectives and experiences, and those are what inform our beliefs about the world. Comparisons and experiences can create confusion causing us to doubt what we thought we KNEW to be true. Unfortunately, sometimes good things get twisted into looking bad and the other way around. I think most often, we just jump to conclusions without having a clear picture.   Especially with social media – we are still in that middle school, join the crowd or be pushed out, rejected, mentality.  It all becomes relative.

We (general population) believe the church says you have to be good to be acceptable to God, to the church, and you have to follow all the rules or you won’t go to heaven.  I’m sure there are some churches that still teach that.  Or maybe there are some churches that seem to give off the, ‘you are all guilty and worthless sinners, so do what we tell you to do’, kind of vibe.   There are many churches that don’t teach that, but if one thinks that’s what church is about, then why ever go?

By the way, I was a good girl.  Shocker, I know.  I don’t think I ever wrote any graffiti anywhere.  I wanted to be obedient, but I was also questioning the whole time.  For example, I grew up in a church denomination that said, No drinking, No dancing, and No cussing.  Real life Footloose.  However, when I learned to read, the church’s covenant was posted on the wall, and I read to see where it said drinking wasn’t allowed. It wasn’t on there.  I wondered where that rule came from.  I still didn’t drink until I was legally allowed to, except for a sip here or there.  (See – not that bad, still mostly good.)

In the Bible, there are lists of things that are good and bad.  We most often hear of the bad things, the things we aren’t supposed to do. The Ten Commandments are written in negative form – “Thou shalt not . . .” There are many things listed in the Old and New Testament as examples of sinful, wicked, or evil behaviors. For example, just a bit earlier in Galatians we read,

“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and sorcery; hatred, discord, jealousy, and rage; rivalries, divisions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” Galatians 5: 19 – 21 (BSB).

Furthermore, we have Jesus telling us even our thoughts are evil.

“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander.” Matthew 15: 18 – 19 (BSB)

If our thoughts, even the ones that pop up uninvited, are considered bad, how can we ever display goodness? How can we be good? We know we can’t, so we justify our thoughts and actions by saying things like, “if it doesn’t hurt anyone else,” or “he/she deserved it,” or “no one knows, so it doesn’t matter.”

But God knows.  He’s the only one who does know our hearts. 

“A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart” Proverbs 21:2 (NIV).

When you read the whole of Galatians, even if it’s just chapter five, you will find that Paul is comparing the natural inclinations of people without God with those who have the Spirit of God guiding them. The virtues listed are the natural good things of God. Without Him, without His grace, we will continually fall short. And He knows how much we need His Grace, even if we don’t recognize the need ourselves.

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its savior” John 3: 16 – 17 (GNT).

Sometimes we use the scaled list of good to evil to help us feel better about ourselves.  Some of us who have received God’s grace, forget how much we still need it – EVERY SINGLE DAY. This can lead us to arrogant thinking that we are just naturally good and deserve the gift of grace over others. We twist the good and precious gift of grace as if we earned it, using it against others who we think are messed up more than ourselves. 

Friends, we have all done or thought something bad, and we all need the gift of grace.  And those of us who have experienced that precious, amazing gift of grace, need to remember to share it with others.  To not hold it like a secret possession that is rare and reserved for only for a few. 

Who is excluded from God’s gift of grace? 

What about people out there who have been told that they are unworthy to receive God’s grace?  What if there are people who believe that there is no way God will ever accept them?  What about the people who believe they rejected by the church because of their tendencies, actions, and preferences? Because this is what is all really about  – acceptance and rejection.

Is God’s love for everyone except ——–?

When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners” Mark 2:17 (NLT).

God doesn’t offer grace because we are good. God offers grace because we are not good – even those of us who are considered pretty good.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, let’s be careful about how we represent the grace and love of God to those most vulnerable, the most in danger of missing out on the Amazing Grace that God freely offers. Let Him take care of working His goodness through us and in the lives of those around us.  He is patient and kind, slow to anger.

We are reminded of the importance and reality of God’s judgment, the necessity of God’s goodness and grace with the words Paul wrote to the church in the book of Romans. There was a debate regarding whether or not Greeks, or Gentiles, were acceptable to God:

“There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil, first for the Jew, then for the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, first for the Jew, then for the Greek. For God does not show favoritism” Romans 2: 9 -11 (NIV).

The only ones who miss God’s grace and goodness are those who reject Him with an unrepentant heart.  May we never become arrogant in our salvation, but rather, remain humble servants, cooperating with the work of the Holy Spirit through obedience. 

Just a fun little ending here. I had been working on this post for a while, but I had been struggling to figure out how to wrap it up, to know if I was supposed to restart the blog. My husband and I were visiting some beautiful places here in Germany, including a famous church that is hundreds of years old. As I’m walking around the back, I see this:

Who would think it’s a good idea to carve on a famous, historical church’s pew? Goodness Gracious! I bet there’s a great story there.

Again, it is up to our own choice, our own free will, to accept God’s grace and salvation.  We get to accept or reject Him.

Finally, I leave you with this encouragement:

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity” 2 Peter 3:18 (NIV).

Because I believe in reading things in context, here are links to the scriptures I used to guide what I wrote:

Here’s the reference for the quote about well-behaved women. Although I haven’t read the article yet, and I suspect I will want to write about it much later, it’s important to reference and cite properly!

Ulrich LT. Vertuous Women Found: New England Ministerial Literature, 1668-1735. American Quarterly [Internet]. 1976;28 :20-40.

What Do I Believe About GRACE?

Hello again. It’s been a while. January 2019 is so welcome, isn’t it?

Although I haven’t written anything for 6 months, I have been thinking about what I would write if I could. I expected to be able to write at least one or two posts over the fall, but life threw things in the way. I just read a couple of the last blog posts (Moving Summer and I Know Better). I noticed they both had the theme of expectations even though they were written months apart. Expectations still pose a problem for me, and I am being challenged to consider my beliefs, the desires of my heart, and my actions and reactions.

Here’s an example of what I mean.

My attitude was a bit sour this past Fall.  I was angry and frustrated about not being able to set up the house properly before the semester started. I have been increasingly fearful about our plans to move overseas next summer and my ability to get a job where I don’t know anyone, fresh out of school, and with no experience. And, we had to put our big dog down due to a sudden and unexpected health issue even though he should have lived several more years.  He’s the fourth dog, all different breeds, where we’ve had to do that.  I allowed circumstances to pull me under into a sense of desperation and defeat.

It’s time to deal with that properly.

I’ve noticed there’s a trend in choosing a word for the year.  The thing I’ve been thinking about this last semester is Belief. And more specifically, what does it look like to live out what I believe?  I have been struggling with what I believe about God’s grace and love for me, right now, even when I act petulantly and faithlessly.  Perhaps you can relate.  I think God’s grace is something we think we understand, but allowing that grace to fully saturate our lives and relationships can be a sticking point.  I invite you to join me as I see what God shows me through this particular lesson.

The verse that began this theme is this:

John 6: 29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” (NLT)

This statement by Jesus challenges all kinds of inherent beliefs I have about my responsibilities and the way I choose to live and engage with others.  When I became a mom, I knew I had the privilege to raise and influence my children for a limited period of time.  I took my responsibility seriously, and I tried to do all the right things.  As a wife, I tried to support and honor my husband in a way that would please God and help us grow closer spiritually.  I prayed over my marriage, my children, my relationships with my parents and siblings, our many moves, my husband and his work, and even my children’s friends.  I attended and led Bible Studies, church services, volunteered at VBS and youth activities, did Bible studies at home, and tried to set a good example for what loving and believing God looks like expecting that all this love and doing good stuff would result in my family wanting to experience God in the same way.  I love doing all those things!

Here’s the thing –  my expectations haven’t been realized.  And I don’t know if they ever will. Meaning, I don’t know if my children and husband will ever want to be as devoted and engaged that same way.  So the thought occurs to me – Does their not wanting to be as involved in church mean I failed in setting a good enough example of love, forgiveness, and kindness?  I can tell you, I know where I’ve failed.  Even in all my attempts in doing things right.  I have and continue to fail again and again.

I hear God whisper, “My grace is sufficient for you.” But do I believe this?

So, when I don’t see the expected fruits of my labor, then my perseverance in doing good is weakened, and I feel worn out. I don’t have the heart to keep going. I stop praying. I stop having those amazing quiet times where God is speaking to me, encouraging me. I think about all the ways that I messed up, didn’t pray well enough, acted in doubt instead of faith, was impatient, and I take on the responsibility for what’s not right – according to my expectations.

Again, I hear God whisper, “Lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” and “God knows the heart of a man.”  And I think, I believe this, but look . . .

I mix guilt with a little bit of truth, and I feel even more defeated. I know God loves me. I know I have received salvation and grace for later. I know I have asked for forgiveness, and that God forgives.  I know I am a child of God, but I must not be (good, faithful, obedient, fill in the blank) enough because I don’t see the fruit from my labor.  Inherent in that belief is that although I’m forgiven, grace doesn’t apply to my life at the moment, and I am still responsible for the fallout of my faithless actions.

God patiently reminds me, “Without me, you can do nothing,” and that “He is faithful, even when we are faithless.”

Do I really believe that?  Is that the truth?  Or are my failures so significant, that God can’t redeem and restore what I’ve broken?  If I believe and act as if the results of my messed up attempts at life and love can’t be fixed, then I am saying that my sin is bigger than God’s redeeming love and salvation through Jesus Christ.  Basically, I’m saying God’s grace doesn’t apply to me.  And I recognize the lie.

Guess what, making others believe and act in a certain way is not my work. God’s work is something more significant, creative, loving, and perfect than anything I could ever imagine.  And, I need to trust Him with my mistakes.  I need to trust His forgiveness is just as real and relevant in the present as it will be on judgment day. And, my work or joy in doing the churchy things I listed above are not the only ways people can show their own love of God.  How arrogant of me!

Back to scripture:

Regarding the fears  I have about getting a job next year:

Matthew 6:33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Regarding the areas where I know I mess up:

2 Corinthians 12:9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

And regarding my efforts:

Ephesians 2: 8 – 10  For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life. (Berean Study Bible)

God gives grace. His grace. Not just in the time to come, but now. And my work is to believe in Jesus Christ, the person of His Grace. If I doubt God’s grace is applicable to me as I live right now, then I undervalue that amazing and precious grace not just for myself, but for others as well. And there it is, the lie hidden in the works. I know God’s grace is bigger than all our sin. His grace is not just a one-time thing, at the point of salvation that just sits there until judgment day.

I didn’t even realize what my belief of limited grace implied until I was challenged by that one verse.

God gives grace. God gives faith.

And, I know that God has been patient and gentle with me. Why wouldn’t He be the same with everyone else?  As far as the guilt I feel for the ways I have messed up, said hurtful things, or lacked discipline and wisdom, I imagine God as a teacher, knowing the mistakes I have and will make, and allowing me to make them because He’s got it all worked out already.

My work is to believe in Jesus, the one God sent. And believing in Jesus means I need to trust God’s grace – for me, for others, and for right now. He knows it’s going to be all okay in the end.

So that’s my word for 2019

fullsizeoutput_e4d

 

Kindness Counts

nature-sunflower-plants-summer-597039.jpeg

I have been struggling to publish this last lesson in the series, “Daughters and Disciples”.  I’m not really sure why.  I have plenty of valid excuses, but not really good reasons. I decided to go ahead and post tonight due to some gentle pressing by friends and strangers who did not realize what their words and actions were stirring in my heart. 

Several new people have decided to follow this blog even though I haven’t posted in a while.  Thank you! I’m honored that you found what I’ve written to be interesting  enough that you wanted to keep reading more.

Today, a friend challenged me to be more open, to be more vulnerable.  This isn’t the venue we were discussing, but I do know I’ve added something to this lesson that makes me feel quite vulnerable.  It may have something to do with why I’ve been putting off posting it.  And another friend with whom I was sharing some of what’s been heavy on my heart encouraged me as she always does.  I am so blessed to have these two powerful encouragers in my life.  

Then tonight, I attended the small group with these lovely ladies.  Most of them are far wiser than I, but as I listened to some of what was being shared, I realized the theme of vulnerability, of being real, of being honest, was present there, too.  So here goes . . .

The final lesson in the Daughters and Disciples study – Lesson 6

Kind words

The objective here is to gain a better appreciation for how we speak to one another. We all know how difficult it is to maintain self-control over our words, but if we are more aware of the impact of what and how we communicate, we may find it a little easier and develop a habit of using our words for good rather than harm. We may also find ourselves better able to forgive others when their words cut us.

Proverbs 31:25 – 26 (NASB)  Strength and dignity are her clothing,  And she smiles at the future.  She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

Discussion Questions

  • What was the result of the TBH (To Be Honest) trend on Facebook from several years ago? (If you participated.) How many of you learned some neat things people thought about you, or hurtful?
  • What are some of the most encouraging things someone has told you? What was the result?
  • Define snarky. Is it really ok to speak in this way?
  • What does it mean to speak with “wisdom and faithful instruction?”
  • When might you have the opportunity to speak this way?

Our lives are filled with relationships, good and bad. These relationships alter our moods, can change the way we think or act, and effect more than just two people. The way we treat and talk to each other has a greater impact than we realize.

The level of jealousy and contempt, the competition for Abraham’s affection, the realization of promises made and misunderstood, all these things served to breed an ugly outcome. One thing that again stands out in this story is that even though it was through Sarah’s lack of faith in the promise that led to the birth of Ishmael through Hagar, God was still there for Hagar and Ishmael even though the covenant promise was meant for Sarah and Isaac. Sarah and Isaac, as well as Hagar and Ishmael, endured hardships due to a lack of faith, and both mothers and sons received blessings from God.

Questions To Consider

  • Can you imagine the little looks, the words, and the gossip whispered in each other’s tents about and by these two women?
  • Do we ever look at each other and judge whether or not we think another has received a blessing we thought we should have for ourselves?
  • Does the impact of what we say have an expiration date? Where it no longer contains any power?
  • Notice how God took care of Hagar and blessed her. What do you think that means?

Why It Matters

The words we use to communicate, how we communicate, and the actions that go with those words have far reaching effects. The book of John opens with, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word was with God” (John 1:1). In Hebrews 4:12, the Word of God is described as being sharper than a double edged-sword. We have the love of God in us, and we are living, breathing, and speaking examples of Christ to the world. Our words matter to the ones who hear what we say, whether they are the intended audience or not. Knowing what to say and when to say it is part of being a wise woman. Our words show us the condition of our heart. Pay attention! Learning how to speak with wisdom and kindness takes practice, and all of us mess up. Thank God for His forgiveness and grace.

TBH – So, as I have mentioned previously, I wrote this lesson several years ago. And even though I know I want to be kind, I sometimes mess up in a HUGE way. Not that long after I wrote this lesson, I said something less than flattering to another mom about one of my son’s teammates. I strongly suspect that teammate’s father was listening to what I said. I did not know the father when I said it. Those unkind and critical words came from a place of my own insecurity, and I still regret the likely impact on the father. The family was going through a difficult time dealing with significant illness and eventual loss. There is no way I can take any of it back. My words likely caused more heartache for that dad instead of being an uplifting and encouraging experience when he really needed it. It also reflected poorly on my witness, my son, and altered other relationships in a negative manner. Unfortunately, that is not the only time I said something ignorantly. Another huge mistake was sent in written form with some anger and frustration expressed. I extended an apology right away, but again, I know my words did not reflect the love of Christ. Sometimes, the opportunity to ask for forgiveness is present, and sometimes, the damage remains – with or without forgiveness.

I know that I am careful most of the time. I am certainly more careful since the two examples mentioned here. It grieves me to know that as I try to walk in the light, to be a light, I may have caused others to stumble, to doubt God, to have a lesser opinion of what Christians are like. Oh, I know I won’t be perfect. It’s hard to always know what to say, when to say it, and how to say things in the right way. Basically, if what I want to say is a negative opinion that really doesn’t have a purpose other than to vent frustration, I think it’s better left unsaid. Now, I pray I may continue to choose to follow what I know to be true.

My Story

In middle school and high school, it is a rite of passage to deal with the very issue of mean-spirited comments and thoughtless gossip. I certainly dealt with it. It got so bad for me that I viewed even a compliment as a possible attack. Because of this, I didn’t trust other people for a very long time. I learned to keep people from getting close to me. How can we, who are revered for our beauty, gentleness and nurturing nature, be so mean and vindictive? How much do we internalize and believe well beyond the time and circumstances of those moments? Often, those words are echoed over and over until we believe the lies or let the root of bitterness go deep in our hearts.

It took God’s patient and persistent love to break down the walls I built around myself for protection. In trying to avoid the risk of being hurt, I realized I also created a barrier between God and me. The first time was out of rebellion, and the second time was out of fear. There is nothing more painful to me than to realize I cannot hear or feel God’s presence, especially by my own doing.

Not long ago, a few other moms and I were talking about at what point we realized we needed other women in our lives. Each of us tried living our adult lives by being self-sufficient. Eventually, we had all reached a point in our lives where we realized we needed the help of other women. Opening my heart to other women still leaves me feeling quite vulnerable (It looks like that’s still a work in progress!), but trusting God to help me navigate through the perilous waters of female friendships allows room for Him to work through those relationships – for His good purposes.

It’s not only friend relationships that get tricky. Every relationship is affected by how we speak. This includes our relationships with our siblings, our parents, and our spouses. I love my husband, and it kills me when he lets me know my words have made him feel unloved or less valued. That is not being the kind of blessing, or desperately needed helper, I want to be.

It is through my trying to speak words of love, life and kindness that I realize how much I fail. It is by these failures that I am able to learn where I need more work, and to not let the words of others cut so deeply, especially when I know they may not realize how they sound. Grace abounds.

The Big Question

  • How do you speak to the people in your life?
  • Are you speaking with words of wisdom and kind instruction on your tongue?
  • Who in your life can you practice speaking encouraging words to?
  • Here is a challenge. Either for your parents or siblings – Speak only encouraging and grateful words to them and notice the responses or changes in reactions.
  • Write down the results.

  Dig A Little Deeper

  • The Book of James
  • Proverbs 10:31 (HCSB) The mouth of the righteous produces wisdom,
but a perverse tongue will be cut out.
  • Proverbs 4: 23 (HCSB) Guard your heart above all else, 
for it is the source of life.
  • There are MANY verses throughout Proverbs about anger, gossip, kindness and the right time to speak.

Let kindness be on your tongue!

If you want to leave a comment on this page, I take the time to review any comments before they get posted.  If your comment doesn’t show up right away, I will likely respond by the next day. 

pexels-photo-712098.jpeg