Ouch, That Hurt

Annoyance. Anger. Resentment. Indignation. Irritation. Exasperation. Wrath. Displeasure. Hurt feelings.

When you read the words above, did certain people or situations pop into your mind? Did you experience these feelings today?  Are you struggling right now over something that happened that you can’t quite seem to get past?download

Let it go. What is “it?” No, I’m not referring to “Frozen.” It boils down to one word…OFFENSE.  As John Bevere rightly named it, “The Bait of Satan.”  (I highly recommend that book, FYI.)

Let me be transparent, as usual.  I have maybe once in a while, from time to time, battled with feeling offended.  Offended for something someone said to me or didn’t say to me.  Offended for being ignored, overlooked, not appreciated, underestimated, and so on.  There are million and one reasons that can be found to become offended.  I mean, geez, I’ve been offended by the way someone looked at me before. I’ve even been offended by a compliment given to me by my husband! For instance, he says, “Wow, honey, I really like when you wear your hair like that.”  Then I say, “So does that mean you don’t like it how I usually wear it? You never say anything about the way I wear it every other day!”  Then of course, there’s the, “Are you calling me fat?  Are you saying my butt is big?”  I’m just going to admit right now, I’m one of those wives.  tumblr_ly4bftcwwv1qbh4goo1_500

For me, the offense that I experience has mostly to do with hurt feelings and anger. It’s usually because someone does not realize what I’m about or understand how I am. They don’t know what’s going on in my life, what I’m thinking, my insecurities, my expectations, etc.  It pretty much boils down to pride.  Ew.  Pride is just gross. Becoming offended is really about thinking too much of yourself.  OUCH.  Man, I’m really stepping on my own toes here…

I have been known to say that I’m not easily offended and I can usually pass it off that I am not. But inside, I get that little twinge of uneasy, angry, irritated offense.  I stuff it down in there and log it away to be added to a list in my subconscious. I am literally holding it against the person who offended me…my self preservation mode kicks in and I subconsciously swear that they will never hurt me again.  Walls are put up.  Relationships are damaged.  Instead of dealing directly with the problem, I stuff it and resentment builds.  Hurt me once, shame on you.  Hurt me twice, shame on me.

Now, I know many of you are thinking, “Wow, Susie is one screwed up chick.”  But, that’s okay because I know that you do the same thing, even if you don’t realize it or admit it.  I have been working on myself a lot in the past few years regarding offense and I have made progress.  You can too.

It starts with not taking yourself so seriously, cut yourself some slack, don’t be so hard on yourself! Know who you are in Christ, then you won’t care so much what people say about you or do to you. Then, give other people a break.  Give them the benefit of the doubt.  When others lash out at you or say something hurtful to you, it normally has little to do with you.  Many times, it’s because they are having a bad day or are upset or insecure about something else. And most of the time, it’s because they are dealing with offense themselves. How do I know this?  Because I’ve had plenty of opportunities to deal with and examine these kind of situations.  

Overcoming the problem with offense is hard work.  It takes prayer, studying the Word of God and dealing with people and issues in a healthy manner, consistently.  Satan knows that if he can keep all of us mad at each other and keep us from having true relationships with one another, then he wins.  Let’s fight back and not let him win, okay?

There are many scriptures that address the issue of offense, but this one is my favorite.  It’s short and sweet and easy to remember.

“Good sense makes a man restrain his anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression or an offense.” Proverbs 19:11, Amplified Bible

I want to be known as a person who has good sense, don’t you?

And just one more, because I do love the Word of God so…

“He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or harps on a matter separates even close friends.” Proverbs 17:9, Amplified Bible

It all comes down to love.  How do I know what love is?  Because I have a heavenly Father who has shown me.  He sent His Son to die on a cross for me and my wretched sin, my offense.  All He asks is that I love Him back and love others as He has loved me. Truthfully, we have NO business being offended, ever.godsloveloveothers

And just a little side note…when God forgives us of our “offenses,” He literally forgets about them. Hint, hint.  If you say you forgive someone, then mean it.  Don’t hold it against them!

Let go and love.  Enjoy this beautiful song about God’s love.

 

What’s All This Talk About Grace?

Grace:  the free and unmerited favor of God

GraceDefinition2

I strongly believe in the message of the grace of God.  It’s not always been this way.  I used to strongly believe in the message of good works.  So which is right?

We know the Bible says, “Faith without works is dead.”  That is true, also…obviously since it’s in God’s Word.faithwithoutworks

But where does grace fit into the equation?  Glad you asked.

I recently heard a preacher say that grace and works go together hand-in-hand.  Say what?  

Let’s first examine what grace is and what grace is not.

Grace is NOT a license to sin, an expectation that God will just forgive you over and over and over again, a one way ticket to heaven on the “by the skin of my teeth” highway.  Presuming upon the grace of God is wrong in every way possible.  How do you know if you are taking advantage of the grace of God?  If you are one of those people who sin and sin and sin and say, “It’s okay, God will forgive me.  I’ll repent later.  His grace covers me.”  Do you realize that Jesus SUFFERED and DIED a horrific death for all those sins you’re committing?  YOU are the reason He suffered and HAD to die. Jesus_nailed_to_cross-793004 And the crazy thing is that He would do it again if He had to just for YOU.  Because that is how much He loves YOU.  Thank God the work was finished on the cross that day.  FYI:  that applies to me and everyone else who ever lived and will ever live on this earth.  I’m just speaking the truth in love, folks.

gods love

Moving on…

What exactly is grace?  Here’s how I put it…When I didn’t deserve to be happy, God gives me joy.  When a person with cancer needs healing, God heals.  When the drug addict or prostitute should be dead, God intervenes and saves.  When we all should pay for our sinful ways by death, Jesus suffered and died in our place.  Even though He was sinless and perfect, He paid our way for healing, salvation, righteousness, the abundant life, the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts and more.  It’s not fair.  Grace is not fair.  images (1)With grace, WE got the better end of the stick.  Grace says, “You owe me a million dollars.  But, that’s okay.  You don’t have to pay me back.”  Or if your bank called you up and said your mortgage is paid off TODAY.  What a great feeling, huh? Grace.

There are plenty of Scriptures about grace that I could post all over this page, but you can look them up yourself.  Go to Biblegateway.com and type in “grace” in the search bar.  You’ll have enough to read for awhile.

For word count sake, I’m going to break it down for you real simple.

Our faith in, belief in, acceptance of Jesus Christ (His life, death, burial and resurrection) produces salvation. Salvation means your sin debt is canceled, marked “paid in full,” by our awesome heavenly Father and ultimately you are getting a place prepared for you in heaven.  Grace.  He no longer holds your filthy sins against you.  They’re gonGood Workse. Hallelujah! That’s good news, right?  

When you become saved or born-again (like we are so accustomed to saying) there is something that happens inside of you.  You are changed.  There is a conversion in your spirit. You are squeaky clean, white as snow. Now when God looks at you, He sees Jesus instead of old sinful you.  You are a new person in Christ!  You are like a newborn baby. As you grow and mature, you become more and more like Jesus.  That’s what the word “Christian” means…like Christ.  As you become more and more like Jesus, you start acting like Him and DOING the things He did.

godsloveloveothers 

And that’s where the “works” come in.  When you have faith in Jesus, are shown the grace of God, you WANT to do good works.  When you realize or understand what God has done for you through Jesus Christ, your heart desires to extend grace to those in your world.  It’s like you received a heart transplant!  So you see now?  True faith and realized grace produce good works.  It all goes together!  You become the hands and feet of Jesus!  

And of course, ALL of this is made possible because of the unconditional, never-ending, ocean-deep, amazing love of GOD. His love shows grace. His grace activates our faith.  His love and grace shining through us produces good works.  

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Here’s a song that sums it up so well…

Amazing love, how can it be?

That you, my King, would die for me. (Grace)

Amazing love, I know it’s true.  (Faith)

And it’s my joy to honor you.

In all I do, I honor you.  (Works)

Let’s stop presuming upon God’s grace by doing whatever we want to do, whenever we want.  Let’s honor Him in all we do.  Let’s stop doing good works in hopes of earning our way to heaven.  Let’s do good works because we want to show people God’s love and grace like He’s shown us.  

I blog because of the grace and love God has shown me.  I can’t keep quiet about His goodness and mercy in my life.  If you would like to know more about God’s grace, His love or salvation, please just ask.  God loves you so much and wants nothing more than to have a relationship with you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Fight Back

Where are your sensitive, most exposed, vulnerable areas in your life?  Do you have trust issues from betrayals in past relationships? Have you struggled with addictions to alcohol, drugs, sexual vices, etc in your past or even presently?  Are you insecure about your appearance?  Do you live in fear that something bad is going to happen to your children or your husband?  Is your greatest concern being financially secure?  Have you lived through a traumatic experience and and are afraid it will happen again?  Do you live with guilt from past sins you’ve committed?

Think about it for a moment.  Our most sensitive areas are those that cause us to tailspin out of control mentally and emotionally. Our thought process travels down a bad path when the subject is brought up, when someone throws it up in our face or maybe we encounter a temptation from our past weaknesses.  We all have at least one area that we don’t like to be touched…ever.

I’m not feeling brave enough to put my own vulnerabilities out here on the “world wide web” today, but I will admit that I am “attacked” in these areas more often than I care for.  In the past, I have not dealt with it in a healthy manner.  tailspinHere’s the order of my mental/emotional tailspin (perhaps you can relate):  anger, emotional pain, regret, bitterness, feel like giving up, questioning who in the world I think I am, feeling like a failure, depression, inability to function normally.  Sounds crazy, huh?

The really crazy thing is that I know I’m not the only one.  The Bible says that there is an “accuser of the brethren” that has been accusing people day in and day out since the beginning of time.                                 accuser

If you are a born again believer, you are a brethren…FYI.  The silver lining is that at the end of time, the “accuser” will be thrown into hell, literally, and we will be with Jesus.  But until then…

I Peter 5:8 tells us that we are to be sober and vigilant because our adversary, the devil, walks around like a roaring lion, looking to see who he can devour.  How does he try to devour us?  By attacking us in our vulnerable areas.  And he knows them well.  The scripture continues to admonish us to resist him and remain steadfast in our faith and to be comforted to know that you are not alone in your sufferings.  As Christians, we all go through it.

But how do we resist the enemy and remain steadfast in our faith?  What does that even mean?  It’s hard when our own personal weakness, failures and insecurities are the ammo he uses against us.  He does not fight fair at all.  And what would you expect from the father of lies?  He’s the master of telling you lies about who you are and who you aren’t.

I’m going to show you how to fight back.

Psalm 121:5  “The Lord is your keeper;  the Lord is your shade on your right hand.”

When a solider would go into battle back in the Bible days, he would carry a shield and a sword.  The shield would be carried in his left hand and the sword in his right.  The shield represents those areas in your life where you are strong, areas where you have no issues, temptations, weaknesses, etc.  The right side, the side with no protection, represents the side where the enemy would attack. The place where our weaknesses are fully exposed.  But we are not completely at the mercy of our enemy.  We have been equipped with a very effective tool with which to fight back – a sword.  A solider would never go into battle without his sword to fight off the advances of the enemy.  And neither should we.  Our sword is part of the armor of God that is provided for us when we become born again.  We wield the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.  The Bible.  We can fight back by filling our minds with truth from God’s Word and speaking it over our lives.  Daily, continually.  Day and night.  And especially when we are feeling attacked and confused.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

God guards the vulnerable parts of our lives with His Word.  If we speak His Word, fill our minds with His truths, we will be strengthened in those areas where we are weak.  We will be able to quench the fiery darts of the enemy.  Speak the Word in times of temptation, fear, insecurities.  Who I am in Christ.  What I have in Christ.  NEVER lay down your sword.  Have it ready in your hand at all times.  Practice even when you are not being attacked until it becomes second nature to wield it without hesitation, with expert skill.  Before your mind even goes to a bad place, you can speak the Word and end it there.  Nip the lies in the bud immediately with the truth of who you really are!  It really does work!

And that, my friends, is what you call, “Fighting the good fight of faith.”

I’m No Superwoman

Despite what you all may think (haha), I’m no superwoman.  supergirl

I’m no supermom. stay-at-home-mom

Though I confess it in faith with a Supergirl keychain, hoodie and t-shirt (thanks to the hubs) and I have a nickname floating around out there (Super Suze).  I don’t feel so super all the time.  Super Suze?   More like a SUPERintendent of this crazy funny farm I’m running here.  piggies

Can I get an “Amen” from all the wives and moms out there?

Or am I the only one who feels overwhelmed, worn out and insecure about being….well, a human being in general?

Take yesterday for example:

I woke up on time (actually, for once) and had great plans to eat breakfast, take my vitamins and workout before noon.Laundry, phone calls and four children’s schoolwork gobbled up ALL.MY.TIME. in the morning.

Between 12:30pm and 1:30pm, I made lunch, helped both girls practice their piano, helped one son with his math homework, took a shower, washed my hair (after like 4 days…gross!  I was holding off until after I worked out.),  actually shaved my legs and armpits (trust me, it was needed)blog2-leg-shaving-spring-harvest and headed out the door to piano lessons.  Wet hair and all.

I drove the 1/2 hour to piano lessons and sat there for an hour and half.  All the while, working on homework with each daughter and following up on emails about cakes.  And silently dying inside because the girls had not practiced too much this week because of Passion Play and Easter.  Geez, can’t I get my act together?  Of all kids, mine should be thoroughly prepared for piano lessons.

On the way home, we drive through a horrendous downpour so bad that Emma says, “Please Jesus!  Don’t let us die!”  Of course, I was in the left lane and sandwiched between four other cars and could not pull over.   My hands resembled the claw when we finally drove out of it.theclaw

I needed to go to the grocery store, but there was no time because the ex was coming over to take Nathan to his baseball game in a half hour.  And he just called to tell me at 3:55pm.  Sigh….well, I’m thankful for the help today.  But the house looked like a bomb went off in it.  Why can’t you keep your house clean like all the good wives and moms?

I’m more Lucy.  I-Love-Lucy-i-love-lucy-17796179-359-450

Not so much June.june cleaverPssh…

Rush home.  Start screaming at kids to get ready for baseball.  Get ready for dance.  Oh wait…what?  Scott has to be at work at 5?  Oh Sweet Jesus, have mercy on my soul.

I scrounge up some bread and cheese.  Grilled cheese and pierogies for dinner tonight.  Emma complains.  She hates grilled cheese.  Nathan says to not put any yucky seasoning on the pierogies (What?  It’s just garlic salt and butter!)  The ex is ringing the doorbell.  The kitchen looks like a Febreze commercial where they blindfold the people and ask what they smell.  I simultaneously make four grilled cheese sandwiches, pierogies, load the dishwasher, empty the trash can, find baseball pants and belt from the basement, fix two ballerina buns, make a much-needed cup of coffee, feed the herd and get out the door in under 30 minutes.multitasking-meltdown  All the while, bridling my tongue and the brewing meltdown as best as I could.

For the love of God, how much can one woman take?  I had my blingy It Works mug full of sweet nectar from God, though.  blingcoffeeIt’s all about the silver lining, ladies.  Or the rhinestone one.

I dropped Scott off at work with five minutes to spare.  (Proud look beaming from my face just now.)  Drove down to Sam’s Club for the groceries I so desperately needed.  Mother Hubbard’s cupboards were, for sure, bare now.  With my tiny ballerinas in tow,ballerinas I raced through Sam’s like a skilled race car driver, even having the audacity to say “No, thank you,” to the Direct TV guy who was trying to solicit me.  Ha!  Take that sales guy!

I seriously made it through Sam’s Club with a full grocery cart in under 15 minutes.  I’m not bragging, I’m just sayin.  My time  took a major hit though when I chose the wrong checkout line.  You know what I’m talking about.  The deceptively short line with the elderly lady whose cart has just a few items.  Patience is a virtue, patience is a virtue.  I chanted mentally to myself while my girls gave me crazy eyes and head nods towards the dear lady trying to work the credit card machine from her Hoverround.  Emma was beginning to freak out about being late for dance AND she had to pee and was thirsty.  Breathe in out, breathe out.

Finally, we got out of Sam’s.  The wind was fiercely whipping when we got outside.  The kind of wild wind that makes the hair on my head literally wrap around my entire face, obscuring my view.  hairfaceIt took me five minutes to find my keys in my purse.  The girls were freezing.  Of course, it was like 70 degrees when we got in the car a half hour ago and no one felt the need to bring jackets.   Mom fail.

Unloaded the cart into the back of my van.  Took the cart to the cart return.  (I did seriously consider leaving it by my van, but Joyce Meyer’s words ring in my head).  Watch this…  http://youtu.be/iedcwIxsKhE

That’s something.  I guess.

And how about this?  We made it to dance with 15 minutes to spare!  Thank you, Lord.  In everything give thanks.

Chatted with a friend at the dance school for a few minutes and arrived at Nathan’s game a few minutes late.  I missed his first at-bat. Of course.  He struck out, so that kind of saved me.  Remember, I hadn’t brought a jacket…I looked in my trunk to see if I had a blanket or stray sweatshirt.  Nope.  What I did find was Emma’s fluffy panda hat with the attached scarf with hand warmers.pandahat  I examined it and then decided against wearing it in front of the other moms.  What would they think about me?  So I got back in my van and watched the game from the hill.  My thin shirt was no match for the bitter wind.  Why couldn’t I get it together and remember things like jackets, hats and those bag chair things everyone else sits on at these games?

Well…at least it’s cold and my groceries in the trunk won’t rot before I get home.

When the game ended, it was 8pm.  The girls weren’t getting done with dance until 9 and Scott wasn’t getting done with work until 10.  So, I drove back home, unloaded the groceries, Nathan got a shower and we headed back to the dance school just in time to get the girls.  In the meantime, Lew sends me a picture of the awards ceremony dinner he’s at in North Dakota. “Call me ASAP,” I say to him.  I really just want to unload on him the chaos of my day so I’ll get a little sympathy.  I was beginning to feel weepy and pitiful by that time of night.  We chatted.  He made me feel happy.  He’ll be home in a few days.  Just keep on keepin’ on.

We finally made it home a little after 10pm.  I rush all the kids to bed.  By that time, I was beyond tired.  I wanted to get my workout in.  Yeah, right.  Who am I kidding?  Bedtime for this old girl.  I know I’ll hate myself in the morning for it.  So I went to bed.  Lily came in three times to ask me if I heard something.  No.  Go to bed!!!!  Then of course, I lie there “hearing something” until 3am. Way to freak a mom out, Lily!

Here I sit today.  FrazzledCatMore tired than before, but able to clearly evaluate what went down yesterday.  Sure, the amount of running around and scheduling and quantity of stuff I was able to get done was impressive.  Super, some might say.  But what was going on in my mind and heart all day was super BAD.  The negative self-talk was present all day long.  I beat myself up mentally from morning until night.  How and why did this happen?

I have expectations of myself that no one, not even God Himself, expects from me.

I often look around at other moms and wives and compare myself to them.  I come up short every time.

I allow the opinions of others to steal my peace.

I forget whose image I am made in. I forget who I am in Christ.

I forget that I am loved by many people.  And they love me just as I am.

Here are some truths about my life (and yours too, I’m sure):

Life is not perfect.  I am not perfect.  That’s okay.  

I am doing the best I can, most days.  

I love my kids.  I love my husband.  I love Jesus.  They love me too, like a whole lot.

My kids are alive, healthy, smart and thriving human beings who also love Jesus.happykids

My home is clean enough…there are no infectious diseases or life threatening hazards at the present time.  Everyone has clean underwear…today.

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I have a roof over my head, food to eat and clothes to wear.  Every day.

I AM a good mom.  I AM a good wife.  I AM a good person.  Sometimes we’ve just gotta say that to ourselves.  

Be encouraged today, mommy and wife.  You’ll make it through today, one second at a time.  Don’t beat yourself up if everything doesn’t go as planned or if the dishes are piling up.  Play with your kids or cuddle with your husband instead.  A clean house is WAY overrated…in my humble opinion.  At least until the mother-in-law shows up.

Love yourself because YOU ARE LOVABLE.

And one last thing…let’s give each other a break too.  When we criticize one another, it just shows how insecure we are with ourselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Bucks and a Dash of Hope

I was on my way to pick my kids up from their dad on Sunday night.  I left a few minutes early so I could stop at the grocery store on my way for some necessities. It was going to be a “drive by” shopping trip.  You know the kind.  Get in, get what you need, get out.

I step out of my van and head toward the store.  The wind is whipping and the air is biting. When is it ever going to be spring? Hurry, hurry.   Bread, milk, eggs, creamer…I recite my list over and over in my mind.  I always forget something!  Hurry, I only have 15 minutes!

“Excuse me.  Excuse me, ma’am.”

Is he talking to me?  Please, don’t let it be me.  WHAT DO YOU WANT???

I turn my head to the left to see where the voice was coming from.

Sure enough.  He was talking to this “ma’am.”  Apparently I have a “look.”  The look that screams, “Naive Sucker.”

“Would you be able to help me out?  I need some money for gas.”

Ugh…I’m in a hurry…It’s almost dark.  There’s hardly anyone around.  What if he tries to abduct me and kill me?  Fear creeps in.

Then, I hear a voice…”You say you want to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  Here’s your opportunity to prove it.”

That ever-present voice in my head get on my nerves sometimes.  So, here I go.  If he kills me, he kills me.

I tell the man I don’t have much cash as I dig in my wallet.  I never carry cash.  He tells me his plight.

“I lost my job.  I’m on worker’s comp.  I’m stuck in a lease for $600 a month.  I have 3 kids at home and one here in the back that we weren’t expecting…”

Yes, indeed.  There was a precious little blonde headed girl in a carseat in the back of the beat up, rusting Durango.  I peeked my head in the window and smiled at her.  She smiled and waved back at me.  Sweet little girl, just like my Lily or Emma.

The man was very scruffy, in great need of a shave.  He had two gold rings coming out of his nose. Several in each eyebrow.  I notice his hands were chafed and cracking.   He wasn’t much older than me.  I began to judge him, putting him in a category of a lower class.  Then something began stirring inside of me.  I kept listening and studying him. As I listened with my ears, I began to hear with my heart.

“I’m a welder.  I loved my job. I love to see a piece of metal turn into something useful because I was able to make it.  I haven’t been able to work since my back surgery.  The doctors say it’s a miracle that I can even walk at this point.”

As I scavenged for the dollar in my change purse and some quarters I knew that were in there, I began to voice my empathy for him.

“My husband had back surgery.  I know that can be hard.”

“I’ve had to get by on workers’ comp too.  I know that isn’t easy.”

“My brother-in-law is also a welder.  I know that job can be rewarding and it takes a special kind of person to be able to do that job.”

“My family has fallen on hard times too.  I know how it is to have a lot more days in the month than money to pay for your bills.”

I only had about $4.00 in my wallet.  I gave him what I had.

I kept hearing, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee…”

These words were spoken by Peter in Acts 3.  There was a beggar at the temple gate who asked Peter and John for alms.  They had no money to give the beggar. What they had was far better.  They had Jesus and His healing power, hope for a crippled man.

Feeling strongly in my heart that this man needed more than just gas money, I began telling him about the love of God.  How much God loves Him and desires a relationship with him and wants to bless his life.  I urged him to give his life to Jesus if he had not done so yet.  I said a little prayer for him.  He thanked me and I hurried into the store.  I left him with $4.00 and some hope.  He was gone by the time I came back out.

I tell this story, not to toot my own horn, but to share my own lessons learned.

We all have bad things in our lives.  Loss of jobs, health crises, loss of a loved one, divorce, financial problems, addictions, etc.  We wonder why God would allow such things to happen.  Why do we have to go through bad stuff?  Why DO bad things happen to good people?

God does not make bad stuff happen to us.  He loves us and wants only the best for us.  That’s the kind of Father His is.  We live in a fallen world, we make bad decisions, we live among imperfect people.  Bad things, unfair things, things that don’t make sense to us are going to happen.  For sure.  But, God doesn’t let one ounce of our life go to waste.  He can use every bit of what we have been through to glorify Him and help others.  If we allow Him to…

Because I had been through some “junk,” similar to the man in the parking lot, my heart was able to find a way to empathize with him. Even when my mind and prejudices began their knee-jerk reaction to his “type,” my heart heard his heart and reached out to him.  I could relate to him.  I was able to show him love.

In the past, I have mumbled a “No, sorry,” and continued on my way.  If I had done that on Sunday, I would have missed the opportunity to speak life and hope into this family’s life.  If I had never gone through any of the same “junk” as this man, my heart would not have reached out to him and I would have missed an opportunity to give him the most precious handout of all.  Jesus.

Do you get what I’m saying?  Don’t despise what you’ve been through.  Share it and use it to spread a little hope.

Sympathy and empathy are two different things.  Sympathy is feeling bad for someone because of what they are going through.  You feel sad FOR them.  Empathy is knowing what a person is going through and feeling their pain WITH them.  It’s very different.   Empathy activates true compassion.

A friend going through divorce.  “There is hope.  Life does not end after a divorce.  God has promised to be your husband when you have none.  I’ve been there and made it through.  You will too.”

A neighbor whose husband has lost his job.  “God provided for my family in unbelievable ways.  He can do the same for your family, too.  He wants to pour out blessings upon you that you can’t contain.”

Who can you empathize with and speak life and hope to today?  Open your heart and eyes to the people in your world.  Hear their words, hear their heart, feel their pain with them.  Don’t be afraid to get in the trenches with your fellow human beings and get your hands dirty.  That’s exactly what Jesus did.

You don’t need a degree from a seminary or Bible school to “preach” the gospel.  All you need is a heart for others and the willingness to be real with people.  The good news of the gospel…what everyone NEEDS more than anything!

One more lesson I learned…or two

I admit.  I was a little scared to approach the man in the creepy SUV with the pierced face and scratchy voice.  Well, a lot scared, maybe.  My active imagination, tendency toward paranoia and perhaps my common sense was screaming “serial killer, rapist, criminal!”  But I also felt the tug in my heart, God gently prodding me to action.  I didn’t allow fear to control me.  Sometimes, we need to “Do it afraid.”  I stepped out and obeyed.  The Bible says that God values obedience to His voice above anything else we could ever give Him.  I’m learning to hear His voice and obey immediately.  How many opportunities for ministry have we missed by brushing aside or ignoring His voice or because we are just too afraid?

As a born-again Christian, you have within you, the answer to all the world’s problems.  The hope that is in you is the most precious gift you can give.  Allow God to use every bit of you and your life for reaching your world.

As a side note…I’m sure my mother will be reading this…The parking lot had plenty of good lighting and there were other people walking into and out of the grocery store.  Had I been kidnapped or what have you, someone would have seen and heard.  I have quite a boisterous scream.  And you know, Mother, I’m packing.  😉  A mother never stops worrying about her kids…even when they’re 35!