Love Always Wins

My heart hurts for our nation today. Not because I voted one way or another. Or because you voted one way or another. I hurt because I see hatred and division running unchecked. Because I see people clinging to their view only and lacking any sort of tolerance. Because I see people holding so tight to fear that it’s driving their actions and reactions.

That’s what scares me the most right now. People are living and acting out of their fear without regard to what they’re doing or who else they may be hurting.

Friends, it’s okay to feel some fear. Yes, it’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to grieve. It’s okay to be angry. Anger is God’s intended warning light in your life. Pay attention to it. Rest with your anger for a moment. But just a moment. Because you can’t live there. You can’t live your life based on fear and anger. And how you choose to react to your anger can have very real consequences.

Whichever side of the country you feel you want to sit with, I know where I stand. I stand with the one who made me, the one who made everything, the one who is in control. But that can’t be the standard answer to all of my friends; to just trust God and it will all be okay. I know God was in control before the election, is in control today, and will be in control tomorrow. But just saying those words to many, many of my friends who don’t yet know Him, well, that feels confusing and hurtful. Because so many of my friends have been hurt by the religiosity of this day. And just knowing He’s in control doesn’t remove the pain or the hurt and it doesn’t automatically heal the divides that have been created.

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Instead of living from a place of fear, what if we were to love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly? Together? What if instead of holding so tight to our preconceived notions and living divided by differences we chose to extend mercy to those around us? What if we were compassionate and kind towards those who offend us? To those who are different than us? What if we react out of love, not fear? And when we see others not being treated fairly, especially if the unfairness comes based on the color of their skin or country of birth, what if we stood up for them? Or gave them a step up? Instead of just speaking for them and what we think they want to say, what if we just let them speak freely? And we listen.

As we listen, love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly, what if we also ask ourselves what is the next right step for me? What choices do I have (we always have several) but what is the next right step for me in my life right now? And how does that step help those around me? How do I step away from fear and closer to love? How do I step out of the divisions around me, and closer to love? How can we be a bit kinder to those around us rather than arguing party lines and further dividing our country?

I pray that you sit with this for a bit. Then I pray the step you choose leads you closer to others. Closer to understanding. Closer to kindness. Closer to forgiveness. Closer to love. Because love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. I pray that love always wins. In your life, and in mine.

Be blessed, my friends.

nancy


 

Here’s a song that’s inspired me the last few days. I hope it helps you to care a little more too.

“Forgiveness is the only real revenge…

Keep yourself open…

Peace and love aren’t so far…”

 

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God Redeems Even Ugly Parenting

IMG_0405Have you ever had one of those truly awful parenting moments? One that you think back on and shudder with regret? Remorse? Maybe you acted before thinking. Maybe you spoke words that wounded your child. Maybe your anger from another situation spilled over to your kids.   Perhaps you were overprotective and kept them from a situation that in hindsight would have been amazing. Maybe it was worse.

Let me first tell you this: We’ve all been there. Many times. Raising children is hard, messy business. And we never have it all figured out. Just when we think we’ve reached a place of understanding and maybe experienced a bit of auto-pilot with our kids and life, boom, it changes again. They grow and change. We hit difficult situations. We react. Sometimes in a way completely opposite of grace and love. Maybe we feel shame. Regret. Sadness. Depression. Anxiety.

As difficult as those situations and the consequences are, know this: God Redeems. Yes, He redeems us through the life, death and resurrection of His Son. And he redeems all of these moments with our kids. Good and bad. Hard and difficult. Shameful and regretful. There are a few things I have learned through this process:

I can stand with confident expectation that God will use these ugly situations for His good. He will grow us through them. He will show us a new way when we’re open to His course correction. He will always walk beside us and be there for us.

Knowing and being reminded that He is there prompts me to ask for forgiveness. First, I ask Jesus to forgive my transgressions. Forgiveness for not walking with His heart and wounding His children. Then, I have to ask for forgiveness from my own children. Yes, even as parents we need to admit our faults and ask for forgiveness. We can apologize for our mistakes, talk about what we’re learning about ourselves and God through the situation, and we must ask for forgiveness.

I’m not saying this is an easy process. Asking our children for forgiveness can seem like an odd choice, but it’s a necessary choice.   As we do this we’re modeling Christ for our children. We’re modeling His heart to the children He has entrusted to us. During this time we know that we can rest in Him. He will be there, He will guide us, He will give us the words to say when we don’t even know what to say.

He alone is our source and we need to stay connected to Him rather than seeking affirmation, contentment or absolution elsewhere. When we have those ugly parenting moments we can be tempted to turn to our friends, get lost in addictions, or go into hiding from God.   Those may be easier in the short term, but so damaging in the long run. We need to know we can turn to Christ right in the situation. As soon as we recognize it.

Remember, you are not alone. Be encouraged, have faith, and trust that God will redeem even your ugly parenting moments.

Reconciling 2014

IMG_6583We’re a week into 2015. I wrote some reflections on 2014 at the end of December. Then there was one more piece I had to process. It’s done. I’m not running away from 2014 in any manner, I’ve just finally put away some pieces of my past. And reclaimed some pieces of myself I mistakenly gave away. Now I’m ready to run full force into 2015. And I’m ready to share with you my reflections on this past year.

2014 was a huge year of transition for me. I entered the year completely uncertain of my future, but with a glimmer of hope on the horizon. I held my breath and jumped. I held onto God as He held onto me. And He didn’t let go—all year long.

Transition is hard. There were hard changes that were ultimately good. Still hard though. There was a lot of letting go. Letting go of people. Some through death. Some through normal life change. Letting go of old ideas. Old habits. Old dreams that no longer served my purpose.

There was also a lot of forgiveness extended, because I don’t choose to carry the hurt of anger or disappointment forward. And in forgiveness there was blessing. A complete blessing and releasing of those who had wronged me. Hurt me. I choose to no longer hold on, but pray that they are blessed. Abundantly. And in that, I experienced joy and blessing from the one who ultimately forgives me.

There was physical change.   I left a job. I sold my house. I moved my family to a different state. He blessed as I clung to Him through it all. He shook up my life to move me where I’m supposed to be right now.

My ministry to others is growing. Through church and the families I’m blessed to work with. In my writing and sharing these thoughts with others. Work He has called me to. I’m grateful. I’m humbled. I’m still in awe. I’m excited to see how He continues to grow this in the coming year.

There were also so many adventures!! Moving, many statues climbed on, trails hiked, baseball games, exploring a new city. Smiling. Laughing. Turning old. And realizing it’s not the end of the world. It’s a letting go of the things no longer needed in my life. Like fear and anxiety. It’s choosing to look for and embrace joy.

The past continues to reconcile. It is no longer a huge burden. There are still a few loose ends that don’t make sense. I’m okay with that. Because 2015 isn’t about continuing to reconcile those moments. It’s not about running from a past. 2014 took care of that, moved me past that. So I sit here on the edge of 2015 with a smile. A laugh. And a heart wide open to all the exploration, adventure and JOY He chooses to bring.