Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Be Kind

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook this morning.  Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.  Be kind.  

Wow, this is so true.  When you open your eyes to the fact that everyone is fighting some type of battle, it lends to a more compassionate and gracious heart.  At least for me, anyway.  But sometimes I need reminding of that.  

Sometimes I get more irritated than I should about things.  Working in the "world" I see a lot of worldly things.  People slandering others... throwing other people under the bus for their own personal gain.  Cutting corners.  Not taking responsibility for their actions.  Treating others as if they were expendable.  Even thinking about it makes my blood pressure rise.  It's not that we have to just tolerate it like it's no big deal.  I don't think we need to be a doormat either.  There is a time and place for assertiveness without aggression. Speaking the truth in love.  However, before reacting to the actions of others, maybe it's a good idea to stop and think about the deeper issues that lie beneath the outward actions.

Sometimes people act the way they do to try and protect themselves from harm.  Maybe that person who is always a hot head is that way because he is afraid of being hurt because of past experiences.  That kid that bullies others at school may be experiencing physical or emotional abuse at home.  What if that person driving 5 miles under the speed limit in front of you during rush hour traffic in the morning just received news that a loved one is dying.  Yet we sit behind them laying on the horn or worse, making crude gestures or comments about them in the privacy of our own vehicles as we speed by in the other lane.

Or there are people like me.  I have always been one to "smile through the pain."  Smile as if nothing is wrong.  This morning I had a panic attack at work for no apparent reason.  I wasn't stressed.  I was pretty much caught up on my work which hasn't happened in a long time.  I had a great time with the kids last night at their school event.  I had even passed that annoyingly difficult level in Candy Crush the night before.  Yet I sat there and started to feel like I was dying.  However, when people passed my desk, I smiled and made the usual chit chat and joked around with them like any other day.  When I went home early, I felt like I must look like I'm faking sick.  (After a long nap this afternoon, I'm feeling better by the way).

The point is, you never know what another person is secretly dealing with beneath the surface.  So just be kind.  Do nice things for other people.  Maybe send a card to a friend just to let them know you're thinking of them.  Buy a cup of coffee for the person in line behind you at Starbucks.  Let someone know that you appreciate them.  Give someone the grace that they don't deserve.  You have no idea how far a simple gesture can go in making someone's day.

Just be kind.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Nevertheless, God...

"For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.

Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus;"  2 Corinthians 7:5-6

The Sunday morning sermon was about stress.  Paul certainly knew his fair share of stress.  Probably more than any of us will ever face in our lifetimes. There were all kinds of things going on around him and happening to him, and he says here that he was afraid.

Nevertheless, God...

These are the two words that have stuck in my mind since that Sunday morning.  There is a lot of stress in this world.  A lot of uncertainties.  A lot of turmoil.  I have seen some first hand and some only from the screen of my television.  Sometimes it doesn't even matter if I am personally involved in the "fightings without."  The simple mention of them often times creates the fears within me.

Nevertheless, God...

I see and read about our country becoming more and more socialist.  I begin to think about other countries who already have this type of society or those living under communist regime.  I wonder if I should start storing up food, toiletries, and other items for the day when these things are not as readily available.  I think about making up backpacks filled with emergency supplies that the boys and I would need if we had to flee our homes one day.  The fightings without create fears within.

Nevertheless, God...

Over the past year, I've been especially financially burdened with medical and legal bills.  The fightings without create fears within.

Nevertheless, God...

One of my biggest concerns that has created a lot of stress over the past year has been the diagnosis of autism for my oldest son.  At first I was glad to have an answer.  Since then I've been able to learn a lot and change the way I do things and work with the school system to allow different accomodations for him.  I've taken him to anxiety therapy which was hugely beneficial for him.  He's gone to an extensive occupational therapy evaluation and been placed on a waiting list for some new treatments.  He has another major evaluation coming in March which will shed some more light and ideas.  It's all a good kind of stress because it is moving forward.  But it's a lot.  The fightings without create fears within.

Nevertheless, God...

Common Core.  There's not much else I need to say about that.  The fightings without create fears within.

Nevertheless, God...

I could continue this list on and I know that there are many other stressful situations that others could add that would make this list a million lines long.  However, in the midst of all of the fightings without and the fears within, there are two little words that bring me comfort.

Nevertheless, God...

When Paul was facing all of the fightings without and the fears within, God did something for him to bring him comfort and help to calm his fears. Sometimes there's nothing we can do about the fightings without.  Many of them are beyond our control.  However, God sent Titus to be a comforter to Paul in the midst of the fightings without.  It was just when he needed it most.

Nevertheless, God...

When you are adding up all of the stressful things in your life, don't forget to factor God into the equation.  For me, I still have a lot going on.  The fightings without are still there.  However, just thinking of those two little words helps me to find comfort in knowing that God is in control of it all and will help me to come through them.  I've made myself a little sign to keep on my desk that reminds me of this.  Being a Christian does not mean the absence of trials.  It is about the One who can save us.  The same One - Jesus Christ - who brings comfort in the midst of the storm.  When I start to feel the tension build, I look at those words and remember...

Nevertheless, God.

(Once the audio download is available for the entire sermon from Sunday, I will post the link here if you would like to listen to it).

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Merry Christmas Snowball! (Elf on the Shelf)

Wow, the days got away from me and I missed a bit of Snowball updates!  Here is a quick montage of the all the fun that Snowball the elf had while he was with us in 2013 followed by his final letter to the boys.

Dear Garren and Evan,

Merry Christmas!  Today is the day we celebrate Jesus' birthday!  Thank you so much for all the ways you showed me God's love this Christmas season.  I've seen you help each other and others, do your chores, wear your good listening ears, giving gifts to others and so many other wonderful things.

On my last night here, I had fun making a fort out of all the Christmas gifts.  Did you know that a gift is something we give because we love others and not because they earned it by being good?  That's what God did when He sent Jesus to earth to be born as a baby and later to die for our sins so we can live forever with Him in heaven.  I heard that you both have asked Jesus into your hearts already and that makes me sooooooo happy.  I'll be the angels in heaven were dancing the day you said that prayer!

I have to go home now until next Christmas but I hope you'll keep showing God's love to each other and others and telling them about Jesus all year long.  I had a lot of fun with you this year!

Snowball the Elf