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Saturday, March 19, 2016

We Can Do Better .. Shame and Judgement Suck

This post has been stirring in my head and heart for longer than any other.  Every time I put it in the back of my mind ... more evidence that it needs to be written is put in my path, my house, my heart, my life. In fact, the sheer magnitude of this topic may need to be written as a series because there's so much.  I fear that it will become overwhelming, for you to read and for me to write.

Some of you are not going to like it.  Some of you won't recognize yourself in it.

You see I have friends that I love that could use some grace, some love and mostly some forgiveness in their hearts and minds.  They need it and they deserve it.  That pure and true and loving grace that I have come to know and need and trust.  The kind of love and grace and kindness that I now know I don't need to hustle and grind to deserve.  The kind that is within my reach at any time no matter how much I screw up.  No matter what crime I commit, no matter the hate and hurt that creeps in my heart, or the unkind words that slip off my tongue into someone else's heart and mind.

Because I screw up.  I am human.  I hurt, I sometimes hurt others, I jack things up.  The difference between me and those friends I have that need this grace ....... there is only one difference.  Just One. The difference is simple, so freaking simple.  I know that grace and love and kindness is available to me because I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me and all of those screw ups and mistakes and crimes and hurtful words I sometimes spew.  I know that I can ask for forgiveness.  That's it.

And do you know why all of these people in my life aren't accessing this amazing gift?  They all have the same story.

Every.      Single.     One.       Of.       Them.      

At some point, someone ......... someone who called themselves a Christian said or did something so judgmental and shameful that these people stopped listening.

These stories are personal.  They came from real people.  They tell me these stories with the names and faces of these people in their minds.  Memories that run deep.

Sometimes these people were their loved ones, even family. Often the intent was to get my friends to "straighten up" to "fix their life" to "be better"  "do better".

People that often talk openly and proudly about their Sunday church experience or the very important "mission trip" they just completed. Then Monday through Friday at work, they talk terrible about people with judgement and superiority.

Both..... Epic Fail.

I don't care if you pack your backpack every summer and head to some far corner of the earth to feed starving children and get your picture in the Christian Winner Brochure.........if you can't shed some love and kindness into your day job then spare me your marketing hype, you're ruining it for my friends.

And if someone's life is "out of control" and they're doing things to get into trouble, your shaming comments are not going to get them on the right path.  They're likely hurting and searching for something.

You know what might?

Love.         Grace.       Kindness.    

Because Jesus didn't ask you to market yourself as a Christian and to go to the right church and surround yourself with people that look and act just like you.  He asked you to go out into the streets and spread that love and kindness around like it's your job.  Because it is.   And if you can't do it during the mundane of the day to day for your friends, family and neighbors, then stop calling yourself a Christian.

Because I'd really like to reach these people in my life that I love so much with the message that all they need to do is accept that Jesus died on the cross for them so they can be forgiven and live wild and free from the hurt and the brokenness they feel.    And if you'd stop sending a different message, we might get them to listen.   But for now I'm just trying to extend love, grace and kindness until they trust me to tell them the truth and invite them in.   Showing not telling.

And I'm extending the same love and grace and kindness to you.  To those of you that may have intentionally or accidentally shed judgement or shame to those that needed something very different.  I've done it, if we're honest we all have at some point. Because we're all broken and we've all been shown things and been told things.  Sometimes we have to stop and ask ourselves if what we've been shown and told is the truth or if we need to seek it for ourselves.

I know it's that simple because of Romans 10:9 .... all I need is to do is  .....openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised him from the dead, then I can be saved.  It took me awhile to find this simplicity because I watched Christians overcomplicate things and I thought there was some secret handshake of perfection that I hadn't been taught yet.  What a bunch of crap I had begun to believe.

And I also know that He takes anyone ...... because of 2 Corinthians 12:9 ...... His power works best in weakness ... really good news for those of us that are screwed up and have made mistakes.  So I don't have to pretend that I have my act together, he likes me just the way I am .... broken.   I love this one so much I have it inked on my side forever, but your opinion about me and my tattoo I'm saving for another post in this series.

Because life here in this human brokenness can be hard and I'd really like us to end up in heaven together someday. Because that would be cool.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 - Fears, Tears and Closing the Gap

It's here again, the holiday season.  Like it or not. 

This year I saw it coming and I dodged it, stared it down and then I wrestled with it.  I've personally felt the pain and frustrations as others wrestle with it and then got cranky and lashed out.  I get it.  It doesn't hurt any less but I understand how and why that happens. 

So at 4:15am today as the full brightness of the moon woke me from a dead sleep, I came to this decision on how I will navigate Thanksgiving.

There is so much that is difficult right now.  The news is full of fear and dread and pain and suffering.  Some of it real, some of it hyped to feed our fears masked as news.  My family is adjusting to a new season and new expectations, some changes are good and some are difficult.  My social media feed is full of people embracing their choices and lashing out from their fears; trying to cling to what they believe is right.  The divisions are big on every front; Gaps in beliefs and expectations. As our fears grow, the gaps grow bigger.

I let fear wrestle me to the ground last night. I hope the tears that fell into the pie crusts can be sweetened up with enough whipped cream tomorrow to make it all work out.  Because today I am cleansed and whole.  I refuse to be a part of widening the gap and feeding our fears.

Instead I will just choose to be grateful.  That's it. Simply grateful for all that I am, all that I have, all that will be.

I will pray like never before for the families of our courageous military soldiers fighting our battles. I will not try and solve it with political opinions and ideas and conversations.  I will pray for those that are hurting from the fears and the division that threatens to harden their hearts forever. I won't judge them or be frustrated by their hurt, nor will I take it on as my own.

I will look at my children with love and gratitude.  I will remember how special holidays were as a child, without all the fear and the mess, and I will honor their need to be loved simply.

I will mash the potatoes, watch my mother stress over the turkey, and sip whiskey in my coffee with my grandfather.  I will not widen the gap with fear.  I will shovel it full with love and patience and understanding. I will acknowledge that many do not see the world as I do and that is perfectly okay.  I will shovel the gap full of grace and forgiveness.  I will do it as an act of love and as a decision that I have made.  I am grateful for the brightness of a moon that brought clarity to an otherwise messy mind. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

A New Season ... Saying Goodbye and Moving Forward

It has been an amazing summer full of fun and sun and music and laughter.  And on this Labor Day Weekend, the close out of the summer, the fun has been on full tilt.  And then today, as the friends and the kids were packing up to leave I was hit by this strange feeling I didn't want to acknowledge.  With two days left in the weekend and lots of offers for parties and more fun and festivity, I felt this pull to stay.  I fought it hard.  Staying busy, making plans, ready to continue the weekend ...... until I could no longer ignore it.

So I dropped off the last teenager to their next event and slowly made my way back home to do what I knew I needed to do.  The thing I've been ignoring all summer.  It was time to say goodbye.  It was time to let it all go.

This beautiful place that I call home is for sale.  The dream home that was built to fill up lots of broken places in people.  The cracks that couldn't be filled with wildflowers and wood floors. It's time to let it go.  It's time to move on.  I've been at peace with this decision for many months and started marketing this beautiful place on to the next great family who needs to love it well. 

And as I've been busy all summer living and loving and enjoying this life, I've not taken the time to really say goodbye to this property, this home, this season.

So I shut down my phone and all the outside world and I got to work.  I pulled the weeds and I mowed the lawn and I cleaned the floors, and I changed the sheets and I did it with love and gratitude,  just as I did  when it was being built.  No sadness or regret, just the love and gratitude for a season of life that will forever be in our hearts.

I was reminded earlier today while the kids were floating and jumping in the lake for this great holiday that this would be the last summer here.  I knew when I woke this morning that this season is coming to an end.  The summer season and the season of the lake house.  I'm ready, I'm ready for new adventures and new beginnings and new people and places.  I'm at peace and I am ready.

So just as the sun was setting with my favorite last light of the day, I jumped on the four wheeler and toured this place and said my goodbyes.  I stopped at each place and let the memories sink deep.  The flowers that were planted, the paths that were created, the laughs and the parties and the families we've welcomed.  The tears that I've shed on each path through these woods.  I remembered the neighbor girl the first time I met her standing tiny in her pink cowboy boots.  I remembered thinking, this little girl will become my daughter's friend and a part of our story.  And she has.  Now both beautiful young women.

And as I let go and said goodbye, I also said  goodbye to the pain and the guilt and the hurt and the suffering.  Because life is a package deal and you get the good with the bad and the sunshine with the storms.  I acknowledged them all for the beauty of this special season with love and gratitude, ready to let it go.  And as I rode through this place with the warm breeze in my face, I closed my eyes and felt the warm wash of grace and the permission to move forward knowing this place will honor another family and they will also love it well.