Tag: forgiveness

 by Dr. Deb Waterbury

I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve said something and then heard my 25-year-old son say, “Filter, Mom!” In truth, remembering to filter what goes on in my head before it comes out of my mouth has always been a struggle for me. I tend to speak much more than I should in some situations and then not say enough in others. Often I’ve missed the blessing of hearing what others are saying in both instances.

However, besides the obvious fact that I miss things, what is the ultimate responsibility I have in my words? Are there consequences far greater than what I may or may not miss? (more…)

headshotBy:  Elizabeth Ryan

 

I can almost say for certain that there is someone in your life that is abrasive, irritating, competitive, judgemental, controlling, annoying or just plain mean. Yeah, you know the one I’m talking about. You cringe at the thought of just being in their presence.
It might be a colleague, a family member, the parent of a student at your child’s school, maybe someone at the gym or all of the above. Wherever you are, inevitably there they are.
No matter how hard you try to avoid them, you round the corner and THERE THEY ARE! Alarms are going off inside your head! You try desperately to contain your panic, but it’s hard when you instinctively want to turn and run! Instead, you awkwardly manage to expel a series of words that don’t quite sound the same way you thought they would in your head. You feel like a babbling idiot and by the expression on their face they are in agreement.
A sad truth in all of this, is that it isn’t just the colleague, the family member, the parent of a student at your child’s school or even the person at the gym. It’s us… Christian women at church on Sunday morning, at our bible study, in our small group, even at our children’s youth group functions.
Why is this? One reason… Satan! He wants nothing more than for us to focus on his deception and by this creating a division within us; distracting us from the opportunity to see the beauty of Christ in others and in ourselves. Whether we are the cause or the effect of the irritation we focus on the negative in either scenario. We fail to understand the purpose of the irritation and discomfort. If somehow we could just learn to respond in grace, truth, love and total acceptance of one another we would find peace.
As I ponder this, I am reminded of one of God’s amazing creatures the oyster, and the beautiful pearl that He designed for it to create. By definition, pearls form out of the oyster’s natural reaction to protect itself from the irritant. As the sand or parasite works it’s way into the oyster, it’s defense is to coat the irritant with a substance called nacre (the brilliant substance that gives pearls their beauty, luster, strength and resilience). This nacre is deposited layer upon layer as a protective barrier until a lustrous pearl is formed.
It is only in Jesus that we will find this natural beauty within us.
It cannot be cultured or imitated. The process takes time but understanding the value of what it will produce helps us to look to Jesus. Remember that:
In all things the greatest of these is love.
What Satan intends for evil, God intends for good… and it is miraculously happening at the same time. Hold tight to this, believe it and trust in Him.
We have the choice to respond in defense and avoidance of the irritation of others or embrace and accept the opportunity to see the beautiful pearl that can only be produced when we allow the Holy Spirit to be our protective barrier that not only coats and protects us but transforms our irritation into a strong, brilliantly beautiful pearl that is genuine and unique.Complete with the capacity to respond in grace, truth and love; and gives us the ability to find
the peace and acceptance that each of us so badly longs for.

 

headshotBy:  Elizabeth Ryan

 

I can almost say for certain that there is someone in your life that is abrasive, irritating, competitive, judgemental, controlling, annoying or just plain mean. Yeah, you know the one I’m talking about. You cringe at the thought of just being in their presence.

 
It might be a colleague, a family member, the parent of a student at your child’s school, maybe someone at the gym or all of the above. Wherever you are, inevitably there they are.

 
No matter how hard you try to avoid them, you round the corner and THERE THEY ARE! Alarms are going off inside your head! You try desperately to contain your panic, but it’s hard when you instinctively want to turn and run! Instead, you awkwardly manage to expel a series of words that don’t quite sound the same way you thought they would in your head. You feel like a babbling idiot and by the expression on their face they are in agreement.

 
A sad truth in all of this, is that it isn’t just the colleague, the family member, the parent of a student at your child’s school or even the person at the gym. It’s us… Christian women at church on Sunday morning, at our bible study, in our small group, even at our children’s youth group functions.

 
Why is this? One reason… Satan! He wants nothing more than for us to focus on his deception and by this creating a division within us; distracting us from the opportunity to see the beauty of Christ in others and in ourselves. Whether we are the cause or the effect of the irritation we focus on the negative in either scenario. We fail to understand the purpose of the irritation and discomfort. If somehow we could just learn to respond in grace, truth, love and total acceptance of one another we would find peace.

 
As I ponder this, I am reminded of one of God’s amazing creatures the oyster, and the beautiful pearl that He designed for it to create. By definition, pearls form out of the oyster’s natural reaction to protect itself from the irritant. As the sand or parasite works it’s way into the oyster, it’s defense is to coat the irritant with a substance called nacre (the brilliant substance that gives pearls their beauty, luster, strength and resilience). This nacre is deposited layer upon layer as a protective barrier until a lustrous pearl is formed.

 
It is only in Jesus that we will find this natural beauty within us.

 
It cannot be cultured or imitated. The process takes time but understanding the value of what it will produce helps us to look to Jesus. Remember that:

 
In all things the greatest of these is love.

 
What Satan intends for evil, God intends for good… and it is miraculously happening at the same time. Hold tight to this, believe it and trust in Him.

 
We have the choice to respond in defense and avoidance of the irritation of others or embrace and accept the opportunity to see the beautiful pearl that can only be produced when we allow the Holy Spirit to be our protective barrier that not only coats and protects us but transforms our irritation into a strong, brilliantly beautiful pearl that is genuine and unique.Complete with the capacity to respond in grace, truth and love; and gives us the ability to find
the peace and acceptance that each of us so badly longs for.

 

headshotBy Ricki Allen

William Shakespeare was arguably one of the best writers in the English language. Some people just have a way with words, and Shakespeare was certainly one of them.  From plays to poetry, I think it’s safe to say that Willie had a gift. Not only a wordsmith, he hailed from London, making it entirely plausible that he had a fabulous accent, putting him at the top of my list of people I would love to have read me bedtime stories. Well – except for the fact that he died over 399 years ago, so were he actually to read to me, I would likely have a panic attack of epic proportions and not the sweet sleep I had envisioned – but I digress…

Shakespeare is credited for the popular phrase The Eyes are the Window to the Soul and there are some scientific types who would tend to agree. Years ago, as I struggled through a biology course in college, I read a number of studies indicating that eye color directly affected things like pain tolerance. I specifically recall the idea that women with blue eyes were thought to have less pain in childbirth. That idea is surely bunk, as I am the blue-eyed mother of three boys and am here to tell you that bringing those fellas into this world was no picnic! The smarty-pants in lab coats have also had some thought-provoking theories about iris patterns being a sign of one’s tendency towards things like impulsivity, extending trust, or having a warm personality. Sure, my baby blues might be able tell you a bit about me; but if I were a betting gal (thankfully I’m not, as math is not my strong suit, making my poker playing abilities dismal at best) the average joe is less likely to ponder how intense my migraines are due to my pale eyes and more apt to notice my penchant for shades of grey…in the form of eye shadow of course. Due to the fact that I have some groovy artwork framed on my wall in lieu of a medical diploma, all I’ve got to go on is my personal experience. As luck would have it, I happen to be an expert in the field of my life. So here’s how I see it: the hair is actually the window to the soul – or at least it is into mine.

God has given us all amazing minds, so use your imagination and follow me back a couple of decades. Let’s go back to the 80’s – oh c’mon you younger gals may not have been fortunate enough to live in those amazing fashion years when hairspray was king, but thanks to modern technology you can take a quick sec and google it. There was some teased up-permed up-straight up nonsense going on back then for sure! I have to admit, though I was a late bloomer (epically late – like 40), I did jump on board the big haired wagon. As a teenager, I had the biggest, baddest mane on the block. It was long, thick, and at times held the distinct scent of a fresh perm. That is, until I came to the realization my appearance may be the cause of some pretty serious abuse I was enduring.

As many who find themselves the victim of sexual abuse, I felt lost and alone. What was going on was clearly my fault – I had to fix it. In my young mind, I reasoned that if I could make myself as unattractive as possible, then the madness would stop. The visits to my room in the middle of the night would cease. Maybe I could go unnoticed; become invisible. With my plan was securely in place, I was off to the salon. No more long locks for me – I went as short as I could go without involving a razor. As I sat in that chair, attempting to eliminate what I thought to be the catalyst of the abuse, my eyes wouldn’t have told you of the horrors plaguing my soul. However, the signs were evident in every flash of the scissors, each sweep of the comb. My freshly shorn hair was certain to be my protection, except it wasn’t.

As a grown woman, I wish I could’ve bequeathed a bit of advice to that young girl. For starters, lay off the hairspray, sister! It turns out Aqua Net wasn’t all that great for the environment. Living in the desert, the idea of global warming (fictional or otherwise) is kind of a drag. More importantly, it wasn’t your fault. There was nothing you could have done to prevent the predator from choosing you as his prey and you were NOT weak. Living through that horrendous season makes you one of the strongest people I know. Much more importantly, though you may have felt isolated and alone, nothing could have been further from the truth. The truth is you were never alone – not then, not now, not ever.

As women, our feelings can be tricky – so misleading. Many of us feel things very deeply, which can be a good thing; God created us in such a way. However, I don’t believe He intended us to be led solely by those feelings or even the environment we find ourselves in. When we feel alone and isolated, that is when we need to pause and see what the Word has to say (even if we don’t feel like it).Deuteronomy 31:6 is crystal clear when it says, “…for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” So we aren’t alone? What great news! It gets better when we look at one of my favorite verses Jeremiah 29:11 , “’For I know that plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’” Now there is some fantastical news: no matter what the current situation or how we feel about it, our God has a plan. Guess what? It’s not plan B, C, or some thrown together fly-by-the-seat plan. The Creator of the universe – the one who flung the stars into the sky and paints the most beautiful Arizona sunsets – is on the road of life with you and is leading you to a good place, a place of hope.

There is a saying, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and I must say that I strongly disagree. As we allow God to work in our hearts and minds, often times the result is a softening. The one who has felt the sting of verbal abuse is more apt to tame the tongue. The one whose heart has been shattered is the one who shows kindness to those in the midst of heartbreak.  As we allow God to work through our past, He has an amazing way of placing us in a position to speak peace, courage, and life to those who need it most.

Every now and again, my sleep is interrupted and I wake with my heart beating out of my chest, my dreams having been disturbed by the nightmares of the past. Those are the times that I have to remind myself that it wasn’t my fault; that I am safe now. I see my husband asleep next to me and think of my children down the hall – all part of His plan.  As my breathing returns to normal, I roll over to check the time with a sigh, knowing I have got to get back to sleep. After all, I’ll need to be up early enough to tame my head full of long, crazy locks before I face the new day.

 

Thumbnail HeadshotBy Ginger Biggs-Harrington

When my mother was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer, I was thousands of miles away, living in Japan. I struggled with why God allowed such a devastating diagnosis to come three weeks after my Marine husband left for a six-month deployment. Why this? Why now? When I’m so far away?

We all face challenges that make us feel alone, to wonder how we will make it through the wilderness of hardship. Fear can tempt us to forget God’s love and care.

We are not alone.

“The LORD your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place’” (Deuteronomy 1:30-31).

What a clear picture of the love of God.  Embedded in these words are principles of God’s love in the trials and transitions we wander through:

  • God goes before us—we are not alone.
  • When we are following God, He will fight on our behalf.
  • When we find ourselves in the wilderness (difficulties and confusion) on our way, God will bring us through with loving care.
  • There are times when God carries us, just as a father carries his child.
  • God seeks out a place for us.
  • God will show us the way we should go.

Grab hold of this truth and don’t let go.

But for all this.

“But for all this, you did not trust the LORD your God, who goes before you on your way, to seek out a place for you to encamp, in fire by night and cloud by day, to show you the way in which you should go” (Deuteronomy 1:32-33).

I am haunted by Moses’ words, “But for all this, you did not trust the LORD your God…”

  • On those days when I forget God’s love is real…
  • On those days when I struggle with negative thinking or a fearful outlook…
  • On those days when I think I am staring a giant in the face…

I forget God has been good and faithful in every hard thing.

Don’t let insecurity overwhelm you.

So often in scripture these same concepts and patterns play out in our lives. The details of the situation may change, but the principle resonates through time, out of the pages of ancient writings and into the details of our challenge.

When we face difficulty we can choose to trust God and move forward, believing He loves us and will help us.

Do you need to pray?

If you face a situation where your emotions and doubts are getting the best of you, join me in this prayer:

Lord, forgive me that I have been discontent and fearful about_________. Change my perspective so that I can move forward and enter into what you have for me. I ask you to give me this place, to make it my own and to possess what you have for me here.

I speak your word to myself: do not fear. You are going before me and you will fight on my behalf. I believe you will help me through this challenge as a father carries his son.

Thank you for fighting on my behalf.  I trust you to show me the way I should go.  Guide my choices and decisions—may they be prompted by faith rather than fear.  I will not let my emotions hold me back.

 Don’t let me be rebellious and unwilling in my heart, and prevent me from trying to fight the battles on my own, working out what I think needs to be done–putting myself where I think I should be.

Lord, I want what you want.

I will go where you lead.

In Jesus’ name, amen

 

 

Ginger encourages women to fully live God’s word and writes for GingerHarrington.com, and Planting Roots, as well as guest posting at  Guideposts and (in)courage. She is a speaker and Social Media Coordinator for Planting Roots: Strength toThrive in Military Life. . She’d love to connect with you on her blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

Deb Blue 5x7 tighter cropBy Dr. Deb Waterbury

Being married is hard.  Being a mother is hard.  Being in any relationship for any length of time with any person is hard.

I mean, let’s face it: We all live this life through a lens focused on self, and self often doesn’t like it when self is being mistreated.

Truly this isn’t news to any of us who have lived in adulthood for more than a few years, but what can be news to some of us is that this “self lens” is a lie, and it is the source for more of our life-spun angst than we are many times willing to admit. (more…)