You may be the only representation of Christ someone sees all day

When people are lost, they’re usually not very cheerful.

When we’re hungry, we can be grouchy.

People who don’t know Jesus yet are lost AND hungry

–only they may not even realize it.

 

When we see someone who is physically lost, we don’t need to say the words, “Hey, you are lost.”

(They already probably noticed that. aaand… it wouldn’t help the situation much either.)

Probably it’s not the best way to help someone who doesn’t know Jesus yet, either (of course, it actually may work well in some situations.)

 

When I’m hungry, I don’t need someone to tell me, “You’re hungry.”

I can already FEEL it.

 

Some people are STARVING –but they don’t know WHY they’re so hungry.

People try to fill this void with stuff the world offers.

But it won’t work.

Ever.

 

On the inside they may feel empty, used, frustrated, or grouchy

–and on the outside — IT SHOWS.

(OH, how it shows!)

 

Why show kindness to people who are being mean?

— You may be the only representation of Christ that someone sees all day. —

 

Sometimes when somebody is physically (or spiritually) lost and you show him the right road, he may be grateful.

But sometimes, he’s embarrassed that he didn’t figure it out by himself and that embarrassment shows on the outside.

Be kind anyway.

 

If it’s a Christian who is being mean, maybe there is sin that has caused some infection and when we’re dealing with an infection, we don’t feel well all over. (The Holy Spirit helps heal this.)

(…Quite possibly, it’s sin of unforgiveness, whether toward another person or self.)

Everybody understands that a wound needs to be cleaned out well, even though it hurts, so that it can heal properly.

(The same is to be said with emotional wounds.

No wonder there are so many grouchy people in the world.

They -whether Christians or not- may be carrying around hazardous material inside their heart and head.

We’re not supposed to carry that stuff.

And it’s heavy.)

 

We can be kind on purpose, and remember that everybody falls down sometimes.

Also, the enemy is pretty skilled at shooting poisonous darts of confusion into an otherwise peaceful day.

Sometimes the enemy we’re fighting is not the person standing in front of us.

And it’s no wonder. It’s not even a physical fight we’re fighting most of the time -but sometimes it’s hard to see it.

 

You want to make this a fight of flesh and blood. But it’s not. It’s spiritual with the powers of darkness. THE ENEMY IS AFRAID OF what YOU can truly become. (from the movie King’s Faith)

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

 

 

The cool thing is that this being kind thing doesn’t even have to happen with your own power; but God is right there, just a breath away, with Power we can’t even comprehend and HE will stand us back up. HE gives us the grace to show other people love even when we don’t know how or don’t feel like it.

When I am weak, HE is strong.

 

2 Corinthians 12:9b-10  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Matthew 5:6

 

 

Dear Mean People, Jesus loves you! Just sayin’… It’s not fun to be around you. But we (I – and other people who notice you’re grouchy) want you to know Jesus loves you because when you really know this, you won’t be able to stay mean. Then you will be much more fun to be around. Love, Somebody who cares about you.

 

(I can’t leave this without saying that prayer is where I find The Best Help.)

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I’ve gotta write about this amazing customer service!

Thank you, Gigi, Jax, Ashleigh, and Nora.  Ladies, you made my Christmas extra special this year. And thank you, Erin, for telling us about this store. Thank you, Chloe, my daughter, for caring about me and being a noticer. Thank you for pushing me to go to this store (because we both know I wasn’t gonna.) You are one of my best friends (even if the world says parents and kids can’t/shouldn’t be friends. When you think about it… the world says a lotta stuff that doesn’t make much sense and makes life more difficult.)

When I receive good customer service I OFTEN write to the company or to an employer praising the great way an employee exceeded expectations. (And when I get crummy service I only occasionally write and am very careful what I say. Maybe the person was having a bad day. Everyone has bad days.)

My husband recently took me shopping at Torrid. Torrid is a women’s clothing store. They have cute jackets, tops, bottoms, shoes, jewelry, undies, bras, and even a few nighties to choose from. AND they have gift cards so you can give this wonderful gift to someone.

I visited there once before and received the same quality of service as this time.

THAT time I was just buying a bra that would fit me (because mine was squeezing me like a corset and I was barely able to breathe.) Thank you, Erin. You are my hero! (I know the correct word is “heroine” but I like the word “hero” better because it sounds cooler.) Because you took my daughter shopping with you for your birthday, she told me about Torrid and now I can breathe again. You made a difference in my life when you shared this amazing treasure of a place with my daughter.

THIS time I tried on about 50 items of clothing.

And they did not hurry me. Not even a little bit!

I just had to write about it.

From the moment I walked in I was greeted by a smiling face and she asked if I was looking for something specific. I was. For many years I haven’t found cute jeans that would fit me. She found a couple pair of jeans and then asked if she could reserve a fitting room for me. (They even wrote my name on the door.)

Every time I’d get a few more hangers over my arm, someone would ask if she could take them to my dressing room. “Yes, please.”

At one time I noticed a woman waiting with an employee near the 4 dressing rooms. 3 were occupied. My room was just holding my clothes in it (I wasn’t ready to try stuff on yet) but they were not letting anyone use my space. They prepared a place just for me! Of course, I offered the room to the customer and she accepted.

I believe every person working spoke to me and nobody rushed me. Since I’ve had kids, many days I have been rushed. That’s not fun. Somewhere in the middle of mommyhood, we realize we better sit down a while because we just really need to. As a mom and wife, I hurry to help my kids, my friends, my kids’ friends, my husband, church, school, and then don’t remember that I haven’t taken time for me to be refreshed.

This shopping visit did just that!

After I was there maybe 10 minutes, tears came to my eyes.

What’s THAT about? OHHH! I’m not being rushed, pulled on, pushed, guilted into, needed, volunteered, or anything but pampered.

PAMPERED! WOW! THIS feels GREAT! I could do this every day! (I won’t do this every day. But I will remember the feeling and take moments for me more often.)

(I LOVE being a mommy and wife. These 2 things are all I ever dreamed about being when I was younger. I absolutely love it. It’s okay to need time to re-energize and regroup. Any job requires that for someone to be able to give more again.)

The employees were all kind to each other. There was no “attitude” when they spoke to each other or to customers. There was a genuine respect in the atmosphere that many companies don’t have between employees.

THAT says A LOT by itself!

I wasn’t in a hurry. They let me keep adding clothes to the room.

When I finished looking through all the beautiful choices and was trying the clothes on, every once in a while one of the girls would ask if I needed a different size or how things were going. (They did this with everyone ~ and it was very kind.) Someone would trade out one size or color for another while I was trying on clothes.

It was like they were there to REALLY HELP me shop!

The girls were professional, fun, silly, friendly, real, polite, and would offer their opinions about an outfit.

I LOVED that!

Even if someone doesn’t like a certain style or color on me, I may still buy it because I like it but I really do appreciate their opinions about whether something looks good on me or not. (I’d always rather hear someone who cares about me or cares how I look tell me in the store if it doesn’t look so flattering than for a hundred people to think, “That looks awful on her,” after I buy it.)

It’s not a reflection of my worth or beauty if a certain style or color does or doesn’t look great. Every body is a different shape and it’s pretty cool that we have so many choices to find the most flattering patterns to fit our body shapes.

At Torrid, (I have to admit this) clothes are a little pricey for every season shopping for me, but they’re good quality and the experience, itself, was WORTH EVERY PENNY to me (and to my husband!)

After deciding on final choices (with the help of my family and 4 sweet employees,) they took the time to find if my mailer coupons or if the in-store promotions were better for me.

It was just a special experience from the beginning and it stayed that way until I went home. I listened to the way they talked with other customers. Every person was treated with respect.

Thank you, ladies, for making this Christmas (and bra shopping a few months ago) a fun and special time. Thank you for NOT rushing me. Thank you for actually caring about my day and for offering your opinions when I tried on clothes. YOU made my Christmas more special this year. I know wherever you work, you will shine and companies would be honored to employ you! Thank you, Gigi, Jax, Ashleigh, and Nora.

[Note: This is not a story about thrift stores but I have to mention how much I LOVE thrift stores. Most of my adult life I have bought my clothes and my family’s clothes (not undies or socks) from thrift stores and garage sales. It’s okay to spend money on clothes sometimes but it’s very fun to be able, when someone compliments my cute shirt, to tell people it was only $2 at a thrift store.

But I’m pretty sure I’ll be visiting Torrid again; maybe for my birthday!

Oh, and I did find some cute jeans, too!]

[Note Too: I find it degrading that some people call some women “plus” size. I believe it would be equally degrading if people called some women “negative” size. It sounds unkind either way to me. Like “You’re too much woman.” or “You’re not enough woman.” There’s a lot I wish would change about this world.

Torrid mostly “sizes” clothes in 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4. And it’s a fun experience just to not see PLUS (or minus) on a sign.

We’re women and we’re ALL beautiful. Period.]

[Note Too Also: You know all those clothes we keep in our closets for 10…20…30… years kinda hoping to wear them again?

I cleaned them out.

THIS actually feels GREAT! (I’ll admit I never could bring myself to do this until now. Not really sure why that took so long. And any small step toward being healthier is better than looking a certain size.)

Try it! Say Merry Christmas to who you are NOW at the beautiful size you are NOW.

It’s actually a LOT of fun!! I never thought it would be. But it’s freeing! And once you really look at who you are and how beautiful you are NOW, no matter what size you are, it’s easier and easier as you go through the closet! I’m so excited for you! It may even turn out to be your favorite Christmas gift to yourself.]

 

Everybody is broken.

Some people want you to believe that they are totally okay; that they have it all together.

(They don’t.)

Being broken isn’t a bad thing. God says He can use you when you’re broken.

EVERYBODY is broken in some way. God is the ONLY One who can repair the brokenness.

It would take a long time to understand why people react to stuff in life the way they do since each of us is broken in a different way.

Think about it.  If we were whole, with nothing at all ever wrong in our lives, we could always 100% of the time react in a healthy way.  But we’re just not always okay.  And so stress (even good stress) can affect our responses (even when we don’t really want it to.)

If you take time to look around you’ll see some of what it may look like in everyday life and a way you can help because you CAN help (whether you realize it or not.)

You can have a plan already in mind to be kind ~ ANYWAY.  Watch for moments because they’re sure to show themselves.

When your boss is moody – show a little more kindness and enthusiasm at work.

When your teacher is upset – turn in your assignment early if possible.

If mom is feeling overwhelmed – do a job or 2 that she didn’t even ask you to do.

If dad seems angry – take a few minutes to remind him how much you appreciate him.

When a student comes to school late or is disrupting class – use gentle, encouraging words (and remember she may not have heard any recently.)

If the checkout guy is slower than you’d like remember it may his first job (just like once upon a time it was your first job) – be more understanding and speak softer.

When your wife meets you with an icy look – be a little more gentle and help melt it.

When your husband grumbles – make him a snack and remind him of a specific thing you admire about him.

If your employee is having an off day – tell him you’re glad he’s there and he’s valuable (which may be perfect words to lift his energy.)

Even though God is the only One who can do the repairs, WE can STILL be people who help (INSTEAD of rolling eyes, stomping off, making a smartalecky comment, or all the other ways that are NOT helpful…)

Just because someone’s outsides look okay doesn’t mean the insides are okay.

If we’d quit trying to hide all the broken pieces, we’d begin to heal a lot quicker.  Jesus is The Answer. And everybody needs more kindness and love.

 

It Is OKAY To Like YOU

Remember that time when you did that thing you thought you couldn’t do? And remember how you were a little amazed by that? And if you’re honest with yourself, maybe you did it better than you thought you could?

When you think about YOU do you think more about that stuff or the “other” stuff… you know… the times you messed up… again?

The way we think about us in our own heads, about how we messed up, about how often we mess up, is just too much for our spirits sometimes. Be kinder to you.

Would you let someone else talk to you the way YOU talk to you? Would you let someone else talk to your husband, wife, kids, or parents the way you talk to you? Is it kind of… possibly… bullying yourself?

Stop.

Please?

Take a breath and think something nice about you.

It is OKAY and (dare I say) “healthy” to speak and think good things about yourself and your abilities!

Somehow the world has taught us that we can’t be glad about something we’re good at or have learned to do because if we say we’re proud of it, people may think we’re bragging or conceited or whatever.

What if we make it a “good” whatever!

…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Philippians 4:8

YOU are amazing. Take some time to THINK ABOUT THE GOOD THINGS ABOUT YOU. You know why I know you’re so great? Because Jesus didn’t die for “nobody.” He died for YOU. And if HE thinks you’re worth dying for, then maybe it’s time for you to see that in yourself also.

You have permission to like you!

Are You Target Practice?

When people are unkind a lot of times it does NOT have anything at all to do with YOU.

Many times it’s unresolved stuff in someone’s life and you are the closest ~or safest~ target.

It’s hard to be happy when someone is hurting us but we CAN have some peace through the storm anyway.

Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds.

James 1:2-4  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Ummm…

Okay I will try BECAUSE God says to. I may have to look up the words “pure” and “joy” and start off with “watered-down joy.”

But revenge and thoughts about revenge – don’t even go there.

Romans 12:17-19  Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

You say, “But she’s really being mean. Like, REALLY!”

I know.

Be kinder anyway.

Pray for your enemies.  (Have you tried it?  It’s cleansing.)

Matthew 5:43-45  “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

I know.

It’s hard.

Ask God for help. Because ultimately, He is the ONLY One with this kind of help. He can change a heart and He can open people’s eyes to the damage they’re causing.

Proverbs 25:21-22  If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.

(Be genuine. Sarcasm and petty motives are beneath you.)

Good thought:  At least if they are focused on me, they are leaving someone else alone.

What am I learning?

He must be hurting very much to treat me this way. Even though the pain may not show on the outside there must be some stuff inside that is tearing up his heart.

Good news?

Yes.

All things work together for good for those who love the Lord.

Romans 8:28  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Do you hear that? ALL things.

Here’s a good way to start.

“Dear God, I really don’t FEEL like praying for _________ but I will trust You when You say to pray for our enemies. Please touch the heart of this person because I’m not feelin’ so loving toward him today….”

Romans 8:26-27  In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Hey YOU. You got this!

Where can we let off steam?

I’m not crazy. I’m a mom. And a wife and a leader and a servant and a taxi driver and a counselor and a nurse and a peacemaker and a teacher and a volunteer…

Where can we let off steam?

Where can we really say what’s bothering us? Where can we get support from someone and just be heard and not have someone call the authorities on us?
~
Church? Heavens no. Do we dare admit that we sometimes want to self medicate when they ask for prayers at church? (Or that we actually DO self medicate in whatever our favorite way is?) Oh dear. Not me! Right? I have to look like I’m on top of things. I have to look like I’ve got this all under control. My kids look perfect. My husband is presentable. My smile is on just right.

“Why, sure I can teach the 2 year olds and lead the women’s bible study and neighborhood prayer group.” “Of course I can make 300 cupcakes by Saturday and cut out 180 snowflakes this weekend.” “Yes, send me the documents so I can edit them for you by 3 o’clock today.”

Sometimes the answer needs to be “NO.” That is OKAY! When we take on so much and spread our love too thin we’re not that much help in anything we do.

~
School? Oh you must be talking about THAT mom who stood up for her kids when other students have been unkind for months and the teachers make sarcastic comments like, “Oh is she absent AGAIN? She’s sick ALL the time.” That does NOT help. That is NOT being a good teacher. I trust you daily to care for my child. Be someone I can trust who will speak to (and about) my child with respect the same way you want your kids to be treated.

THAT family where they’ve tried to help teach their child, “Ignore.” “Speak up.” “It’s better not to speak.” “Stand up.” “Be invisible.” “Stand out.” “Have courage.” “Jesus is with you.”

Then THAT family goes to the school for help and the school administration assures you, “That does NOT go on at THIS school!”

Either they are blatantly lying or are absolutely blind to the fact that it IS happening at THIS school. Kids are bullying other kids all the time. If my kid is part of the problem let’s talk about that. If not, then help me figure out a solution while she’s in your care.

Absolutely we [parents and school and church] should be teaching our kids HOW to stand up for themselves and that it is okay to fight back. Turning the other cheek does not mean let someone walk all over you and not stand up for yourself. Absolutely DO stand up for yourself and more importantly stand up for people around you who are being bullied.

What to do about it? I’m sure there is NOT just one answer for every case but maybe the first thing to do is just to admit there is a problem. Stop treating moms and dads like we do not know what is going on. Not everyone is going to try to sue the school if school admits they are not perfect.

~
Work? We go to work. We do our job. We take care of other people’s problems, possibly face a little sexual harassment, brush it off, stop by the grocery store to pick up spaghetti sauce for dinner, walk in the door to hear our kids say, “Hey, mom, I need $20 for the field trip by my first class in the morning.” “Here mom. Sign this please. The teacher said I’m going to need tutoring for a month or until I get this grade up or I’m out of sports.” And my sweet husband says, “Did you take the car to get the tires rotated today?” And I pretend NOT to notice him closing down something on the computer and wonder who he’s cheating on me with this time.

~
Home? What if we lose our temper at home? Mom’s gone crazy. She’s out of control. No. No she’s not.

Sometimes we don’t realize our kids ARE old enough to help at home (at just about every age.) Let them do dishes. Remember, if something accidentally gets dropped, to buy less fragile stuff next time. If a dish is more important than our kids learning service, responsibility and to take care of where they live (because they will ALWAYS need to take care of where they live) then maybe we should buy less breakable stuff from now on. Let them fold laundry. So what if it’s not folded the exact way we would fold it? Let them help. And praise them for it. It will build confidence.

Delegate a little of the housework to each person in the house, briefly teach them how to do it, and then LET them do it. Don’t step in. But DO tell them, “Hey I really appreciate your help. I love how you cleaned the sink.” “I’m having a tough time getting the floor clean in here. You have such great eyesight. Would you please clean to the edges when you clean the bathroom?”

~
Romance? Dates? Looking and feeling sexy as a woman? When do we have time for that?! I WANT that. I NEED that.

~
WHERE can we let off steam? Pretty much nowhere. NO WONDER we are under so much stress. I have seriously considered building a place where women can go and for a small fee they can take a baseball bat and smash stuff for 5 minutes.

On top of all that if we raise our voice to our families we feel like the biggest failure of the century.

THAT is a bad day. When I raise my voice to my family. Worst feeling EVER.

AAAUUGGHHHHHHH!!!!!! ENOUGH. I need a moment to breathe. I need a little silence. I need someone to realize that I am a person, too. I am very great at what I do and yes I can handle 217 thousand things at once and (yes, we all pretty much wear the title “super mom” but) just let me catch my breath.

~~> I need Jesus. He can fill me and give me energy and the strength I need to be the mom and wife I need to be. Ask God for energy and thank Him for it. He is THE answer. He doesn’t HAVE the answer. He IS the answer. <~~

~ And then we kiss the kids good night and do it all again tomorrow. ~

I want you to know that I am praying over your life. I am praying over your jobs, your marriage, your search for a husband, your decision to be single, your church, your education, your kids, your life in general, and your heart. Just know that somebody cares and in case nobody told you today… YOU MATTER.

Let Me Tell You About My Mom….

Let Me Tell You About My Mom….
Mother’s Day 2010

I remember my mom making sandwiches for the men who dad was working with on stormy nights at the electric company to restore electricity for the families whose houses were hit with lightning.

I remember the fun slumber parties my mom planned for my birthdays. She let me invite as many friends as I wanted to. Mom let us invite one friend our age to the other sister’s slumber parties, too. That was cool.

I remember the most beautiful birthday cakes ever made were the ones my mom made for us on our birthdays…. The kind someone would pay lots of money for, but my mom’s tasted better than ANY store could make.

I remember my mom making beautiful wedding cakes.

I remember telling lot of kids that I was going to have a party and to get off the bus at my house, and they did. My mom didn’t even get mad at me for that. I don’t remember how she got them all home.

I remember mom driving the camper and picking up ALL the friends I wanted to invite to Vacation Bible School, and never complaining about it or making me feel that it was an inconvenience.

Mom makes the very best grandma bread ever. Everyone loves her homemade bread.

My mom made sure we went to church, even on vacations, and that showed me how important church should be.

My mom chose the names for our streets on the corner where we built a house when I was a kid. That was pretty cool.

My mom makes the very best tasting food and makes it look very beautiful. Somehow my macaroni and cheese or deviled eggs just don’t measure up in taste or beauty.

I remember my mom giving up her bed to let company sleep there while mom and dad took a less comfortable place to sleep.

I remember knowing that if I told mom something, that I better expect that she’d tell dad because they had no secrets, and that felt secure.

I remember that mom let us play in the basement and color in coloring books.

My mom taught me hospitality. If someone needs a place to rest, clothes, food, my mom was there for them. I was hungry and… Matthew 25:34-36

Mother’s Day 2010
(From my sweet husband to my mom)
Why my mother-in-law is the greatest

My mother-in-law is the greatest because she is always helping others.
My mother-in-law is the greatest because she makes the best bread in the whole world.
My mother-in-law is the greatest because she always makes me feel welcome.
My mother-in-law is the greatest because she gives the greatest Christmas gifts.
My mother-in-law is the greatest because she has never judged me for my past.
My mother-in-law is the greatest because she had and raised the perfect wife for me.

Be kind ON PURPOSE.

You do not know the stress someone else is under.

Be kind ON PURPOSE. Just be extra kind just in case someone needs it.

The other day I saw a woman be verbally and physically rude to a check out lady at the grocery store just because the equipment was not working at the self check out. There were other checkers open. There was nothing this worker could do to fix the equipment that second. She sweetly apologized to the rude lady. After the rude woman left and took her poisonous attitude with her I walked over to the check out lady and said, “Please don’t let that ruin your day.” She said, “I have a cancer screening this afternoon. There are bigger things going on in my life.”

I wish the rude person could have heard that. Maybe it would have changed the way she treated her. Don’t know. But maybe…

You do not know what someone else is going through. Just be kind.