I’m Not Catholic, But…

Too often, this past year, I’ve been walking around looking only to the interests of those who are mostly like me. Far from keeping my heart tender, it’s starting to harden it toward those who don’t experience life the way my family and I do.

I don’t want my children to grow up thinking that treating others the way they want to be treated means anything other than treating everyone the way they’d like to be treated. It’s The Golden Rule, true. But, it’s one that I want to follow better in spirit and letter, this year.

I’m not Catholic, but I’ve always been inspired by the many stories centered around Mother Teresa‘s servant heart. She went into some of the harshest, grittiest, most detestable places and poured out kindness.

We can’t all head out to the far-reaches of this globe. And, as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t think every person should, either. In fact, anyone of us can look within our own city or town and find some “others” who need to be treated the way so many of us almost always are.

With dignity.

And respect.

And kindness.

Much the way I imagine Jesus to have tenderly looked on the woman who wiped His feet with her tears.

I want Him to be able to look upon me, and mine, that way.

As we embark upon a new year, I’m envisioning new family goals. This is one of them, for us. I want us to think more “neighborly” and less individually. Thinking through ways we can practice this in our community, I’ve come up with a few ideas. I’m sharing three of those, here, in the hopes that it will spark ideas of your own.

And as far as resolutions go, I think this is one that honors both the spirit and the letter of that golden rule so many of us claim to hold dear.

3 Ways A Family Can Treat Others the Way They Want to Be Treated

1. Draw pictures. Then, visit a local nursing home and share them with the residents. Share why we drew them. Just share our stories in written or drawn form. Give them encouragement to tell theirs. I’ll never forget the day I took a short story I had written with me to the nursing home I frequented in college. What started as a project for a class turned into a desire to continue fostering relationships with these frail yet fully alive elderly friends. Two of these residents had minds that were so sharp, even at 82 and 90. I brought the short story to finish it while I waited in the “parlor” for my visit with Margie. But, she snuck up on me in her wheelchair and asked what I was doing. After I told her, she demanded I read it. And then, she shared a completely unexpected story of her own. My life was changed that day. Her daughter, living in another country, wrote to me after her passing. She said that Margie lived for my visits. Just to feel connected to the world outside of that Nursing Home. I’ll never forget that. My children need to know that sometimes, the ones who need the most kindness are the ones you’d never expect.

2. Serve at a local Food Pantry or Shelter Kitchen. This is something I haven’t done in an embarrassingly long time. My children only know what it is to be served. Not to serve others. I’m being very honest. I don’t like writing that or reading that, but, it serves as a much-needed kick in the shorts to expose them to more postures of service. To help them take that chin down a notch or three and bend low to lift the chin of another. The blessing is one big boomerang of hope and goodness.

3. Ask at least one person in our house how they could be helpful to them, each day.
This is where we’ll be starting. “How can I help you?” Those are five powerful words, and I want each one of us to make them such a natural part of our vocabulary that they tumble out without prompting. I’ve made a Servant_Heart_Chart and included the picture below. It’s not fancy, but it does the job. #practicalforthewin

Servant_Heart_Chart_Missindeedy

My hope is that these children, of mine, will go about their days, weeks, and years with a heart bent on considering how they can treat others better than they deserve. This, to me, is the most difficult challenge a human undertakes.

Well, this human, anyway.

It’s why I require so much grace for my days.

But it is given. Oh, how it is! And I intend to make pouring it out a priority – for myself, and for my family.

Yes indeedy.

Do you have an idea for how to teach children to treat others with kindness?  Or, do you know of a great book with ideas for family service or servanthood? Please, share!

 

Two Steps Right

A little change in perspective is so good for the heart sometimes, isn’t it? I am no dancer.  The Nana called me “Grace” growing up and it surely wasn’t because of my ability to be graceful.  Not even remotely.

But life is, I’ve found one great Dance.

I have found myself doing a little dance that I don’t like, lately.  Maybe it’s one you can relate to?

Make a To Do List, dosie-doe;

Work to accomplish it, around I go;

Measure myself by another’s stick

Dip and loop, feel downright sick;

Guilt and Shame weigh down this heart,

Drag myself back ’round to start.

But, lately?

Lately, I feel my Dance Instructor teaching me some new dance steps. Steps that require less of my effort and more dependence upon Him. Moves that don’t involve me watching “the rest of the class” to see what they are doing and follow suit.  No. He wants me to move the two steps right that will be best for the dance He’s created for me, only.

He started planting these moves in my heart some time ago – around the time that He reminded me that I am never going to be enough – without Him.  That I am never able – without Him.  That I am never alone; or – without Him. He’s been modeling these steps in His Instruction Manual for thousands of years. But, at the time that I first read them, I wasn’t concerned enough about what He said to do.  I was looking more towards my fellow dancers.

Not now.

No.

Now, I am looking at my Teacher and I am eagerly awaiting the next dance moves that He meant for me.  You see, I have found that my heart is filled with a new confidence in His ability to direct my moves and steps.  They are so much more graceful – with Him.  They are far more powerful – with Him.  They are accomplished far more easily – with Him leading.

I know, now, that my Dance Instructor loves me with an everlasting love.  I know that His mercies are new every morning that this clumsy dancer needs a fresh start.  I am sure, now, that if I fall, He will be there to help me up.

And that dance that I spoke of before?  It is a thing of the past.  As my heart continues to gain confidence in my Dance Instructor’s love for me, I trust Him and dance with abandon.

For Him.

With Him.

In Him.

And, although I may never be called “graceful”, I will be called Loved.  Redeemed.  Worthy.

Yes indeedy.

And I can dance to that!

How about you?  Do you find your heart racing for all of the wrong reasons lately?  May I encourage you to sit, rest, and look to The Master Dance Instructor again?  He longs to direct your steps and make them straight. Oh, how He does!

Today, I am linking up again with the community over at Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Study.  Weekly, we meet together to discuss “A Confident Heart” by Renee Swope.  Click the button below to see what other heart confidence is growing as we study together.

OBSBlogHop

Doing It Scared

There are just so many things.

So many things that I, daily, do scared.

Want a “short list”?

  • Attempt to walk in heels higher than an inch
  • Cook
  • Wear anything white
  • Exercise

And then there’s the more serious stuff:

  • Parent
  • Believe in the promises God whispers through His Word
  • Speak up on others’ behalf
  • Make choices about media, attention and adoration
  • Trust that it really is all Good for those that love Him

And, friends?  That’s the Short List.

I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about how super-confident others perceive me to be.  And yet, how very little confidence I truly possess. (I do believe some folks confuse the Gift of Gab with the trait of Confidence, but that might well be a different post for a different day.)

I can’t help but wonder if God is allowing me glimpses into all of these things I hold so fearfully in my heart because He is preparing a way for my heart to gain more confidence. True confidence.  In my heart. Where it needs to be.

Proverbs 31 Ministries is beginning their next Online Bible Study on October 13th.  It’s called…

Wait for it…

A Confident Heart by Renee Swope. 

AConfidentHeart_medium

Can I even tell you how God-orchestrated this study seems to be for the current health of my heart?

Will you consider joining me? And a “couple” of other women from around the world?

Click here to sign up.

And if you’re doing it scared, know that we’re in this together!

A Heart at Rest

You could almost hear that phrase, “a heart at rest”, and assume death.

Yes!

That!

Exactly!

Dead to the old.

Alive to the new.

Dead to the dull monotonous thud of Complacency.

Jolted alive and awake to the rapid pitter-patter of Possibility.

This study of What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, by Lysa TerKeurst has re-awakened passions in my heart that have lain dormant for years.  It has also quietly killed others.  And all for the greater Good.

I can hear The Truth of that Good reverberating through each strong thump of my freshly invigorated heartbeat.

And all the while, my heart is able to rest easily and securely.

One of the dictionary definitions of secure is “free from anxiety or worry”.

Yes. That is exactly what my heart feels.

For, I know, without a doubt, that my many little Yeses to God have been whisked heavenward.

Although my eyes may be finished reading and studying what it means to remain with my palms up listening for God’s whispers; and while I may yet hear confirmation, from God, regarding my time and place, I am committing my way to Him.  I am submitting my will to His.

Hearing a message confirmed and then reaffirmed that had been whispered into my heart some 18 months ago, my heart is able to rest in the knowledge that this message has been consistent.  The same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Much like my God.

Do_Not_Despise_Missindeedy

As I move forward in obedience, day by day, small thing by small thing, He will honor my yeses.  He is honoring my yeses.

And that?  That is what this heart is beating for.

Oh, yes indeedy!

 It has been such a joy to study this book, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, with the  extraordinary community of women at P31’s Online Bible Study this past 6 weeks.  If you are interested in learning more about Online Bible Study, click here.  If you would like to read what others’ final thoughts were as we close out this study, click the blog hop below.  

OBSBlogHop

All In

Have you found it?

That thing that you’re looking for.

Are you inching any closer to grabbing a hold of it?

I don’t know about you, but my soul has been longing for more lately. Anyone else?

Maybe it’s this new season of parenthood that’s upon me or the new life stages; It could simply be that for the first time in a long time, I have the time and space and desire to examine those things that my soul has been lacking.  I’m not really sure.

But, this I know. While my days may indeed be filled with the mundane, that does not mean that life, itself, is mundane.  Oh, no!

In Lysa TerKeurst’s book “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God”, she states that,  “A holy God in the middle of life’s mundane activities will change your life.” 

Whether you’ve just started walking with God, or have been walking with Him for decades, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that you know pretty stinkin’ well that life with Him is anything but mundane. Amen?

Blessed? Sometimes. Adventurous?  If we’re so blessed. Peaceful? That depends on whether we’ve got our eyes set on external peace or internal.

But life with God is never mundane.

Even in the mundane.

In fact, I wonder what my God thinks of all this soul hunger I’ve suddenly developed; this deep desire that I finally have to be radically obedient to whatever He has for me.

Whether what He has for me is located in the bunk beds down the hall, or in the marriage that takes constant tending and dying to self, I pray that my heart cries “Yes!”. It may be that God has a mission for me in the halls of my children’s school, or in a place that is more than I can ask or imagine. Or maybe, it’s simply in a place that beats wildly right underneath my very skin and bones. . I still pray that I am able to cry “Yes!” with everything I’ve got.

All_In_Deut_6_5_Missindeedy

Whatever God says to do, I realize now, I must do! And He is waiting for me to surrender it all – heart, soul, and strength to Him to make of it all what He will.

For His glory.

That excites me.

My soul finally longs to be all in.

And that’s exactly where you’ll find me, my friends.

In the midst of figuring out how I can say YES to God.

Wanna join me?

I’m participating in a weekly blog hop over at Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Study.  If you’d like to read how other hearts are responding to the book “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” by Lysa TerKeurst, click the button below! If you’d like to join over 22,000 women from 120 countries in this Online Bible Study, click here.

OBSBlogHop

 

Let Her Be More

Sometimes, I like to envision Memory and Perspective walking hand in hand.

While The Nana is away on a business trip this week, we are babysitting being companions to Ahab.

So, naturally, we cooked him his favorite dinner last night, steak and potatoes, and then headed out to Dairy Queen for a sweet treat afterwards.  We wanted his first night without The Nana to give him promise that we weren’t going to be Lazy Hang-Abouts all week long.  Ahem…

Ahab and I sat at a table, while Sweetman was waiting for our order, and watched the kids flit here, there, and everywhere.  While we did, two teenage girls walked up to the window all decked out in their teenage finest (read that, shortest and tightest dresses possible).  Their hair was teased and coiffed and I’m near to certain that they had a pound of make-up on their faces between the two of them.  They texted and lol’ed, checked out the surroundings for the few teenage boys working the counter, and generally did all of the things that teenage girls will do.

Ahab turned to me with a twinkle in his eye and asked me if I remembered those days?

What the what now?

I do not remember ever (just so we’re clear) dressing up quite that provocatively.

Or, maybe I’m just older than I want to admit to being.

Either way, I remarked that thankfully, sweetgirl was a lot like me and that I was pretty sure that she was going to be confident enough in herself to never think she needed to dress that way to attract attention. (Speaking it makes it true, dontcha know?).

I also might have mentioned that I was going to teach her that she didn’t need to “package” herself at that age, or any age, to attract the attention of men. And I might also have gone on about how I will be teaching her to care more about making her heart attractive.

Oh, the intentions I have…

And as we watched Sweetgirl flit, Ahab marveled at how precocious and outgoing she was and commented that, “Yes indeedy, (I come by it naturally, you see), she’ll do alright.”.

Isn't she beautiful, mama?

Isn’t she beautiful, mama?

I said that she came by her precociousness naturally, of course, because I was like that at her age, too.

Right?

But, what he replied with was not what I thought I knew of myself.

No. Not at all.

Ahab said, “No, you were actually kinda quiet and on the shy side.  You were much more cautious and a thinker.”

HUH?

Now, from the stories about my formative years that The Nana would tell you, I was all sorts of spitfire in the personality department.  My brother – he was the one who bounced from point A to point B.

But I?  Well, apparently I was the mastermind behind the bouncing.

I’m left chewing over that and trying to make sense of how God brought me to such a place of confidence compared to how I used to supposedly be.

And I can only conclude one thing.

By. His. Grace.

By His Grace, I am able to remember that I am more than my outfit.

I am more than my appearance.

I am more than what others think of me.

I am more than what others may say about me.

“But by God’s grace I am what I am, and his grace shown to me was not wasted.”

1 Corinthians 15:10

And oh! How I pray that Sweetgirl always holds this truth close to her heart.

Let her be more than a conqueror, through you, Jesus, too!

Yes indeedy!

What truth do you want your own daughter, or the little girls in your life, to hold close to their hearts?

How Does a Heart Stay?

Heart_On_Wood_ByTimPirfält

 

I read recently on Ann Voskamp’s blog a piece that she posted back in July.  One sentence she wrote, not only pricked my heart, it sliced it wide open. Part of the solution to poverty is doing whatever it takes to get your heart to stay with the poor.My mind started reeling with all of the possible ramifications of that one single statement.  One extravagance at a time was laid bare, exposed for the folly that it can be in a daily life of relative ease.  It’s not often that I go deep here.  I want to go deep today.  For myself.  I need to go as deep as this thinking will take me today. Because, I have been remiss.

 

I read that one line, and it upended me.  I must have sat, slack-jawed, for a good 2 minutes before I understood the gravity of her point.  It would seem that I’ve let my heart roam much too far down Comfortable Street and away from the poor.  I don’t believe that I’ve done all that I am ABLE to do to get my heart to stay with the poor – because it’s “the poor”.  It’s Them.  Not my family.  But it is – My Family.  The precious little ones, among the poor, rest especially uneasy on my heart today.  I’ve allowed my heart to stray toward Comfort and away from Responsibility.  I want, now, to give enough of myself that it feels uncomfortable.

 

Comfort is so easily taken for granted.  I think of our sweet 9 year old Benson, whom we sponsor through Compassion International, and our newly found 5 year old Joan, whom we also sponsor.  And it grieves me to know that we’ve gotten a letter from one, written in their almost perfect penmanship, telling how their mother “has passed, but I give God good thanks for you sponsor of me.” I am imagining my own children.  Left behind.  With nothing but joy for the opportunity.  And I can’t.  I. Can. Not. Imagine!

 

The sense of urgency I feel, now, is palpable; for I am able!  I am able to do more than I do.  I am able to show how much their situation in life grieves me by giving more than I do.  I’m not just talking about monetary giving, necessarily; no. I’ve been there and done that and my heart grew cold.  Apathy crept in and took up residence as I continued down the aisle of “Easy”.  I’m growing increasingly uncomfortable each time I zero in on my own needs to the exclusion of the poor among us. How can my heart remain calm when my sweet Benson and Joan are living in a shack, the size of Sweetgirl’s bedroom, likely with no light, little food, and possibly no place to lay their weary heads? And yet… With thankful hearts that are overflowing with joy for the knowing of this Jesus whom I claim to follow. How?

 

Maybe, just maybe, there is a thing being worked out in me that I have been roadblocking at every turn. Until now.  This upending of my heart?  It’s painful.  It’s shameful.  It’s depressing.  And…

 

It’s hopeful.

 

For, if Iam indeed able, then I am indeed responsible. And if it has been laid upon my heart, then I am aware.  And awareness + ability = compassion that can flood the darkest recess.  The most hope-less reaches. The altogether unlovely amongst us.  Amongst us! Amongst my own circle of influence, the least of these, and my entire earthly family. Yes, Lord; Yes, Lord; Yes, Yes, Lord!

 

So, as I head into this Christmas, this time of rejoicing in The Most Spectacular Gift Ever Given, it is my hope that this great sense of overwhelming compassion that I feel will stay with me. Will prompt me to move. All year long. And evermore. Amen!