Jen Hatmaker made a very bold Facebook post recently about the LBGT community. Basically, she opened her arms wide open to LBGT. (To see her post, look her up on Facebook and check out her April 23, 2016 post.) As most Facebook posts go, it stirred a wide range of opinions and comments. There's lots of emotion around a public Christian figure supporting people of the LBGT community.
I loved her post. I actually re-posted it. However, I got into a discussion with a few fellow Christians about whether the statements she made were based in Christian theology. And this got me thinking…can I be loving toward a sinner and still call out the sin? So I’m going to try an experiment with my blog. And I realize this could go incredibly wrong and I might watch my blog followers drop to 0. I might even watch my friends drop to 0 too. However, I’m willing to risk it in the name of Jesus.
What irritated me beyond belief with Jen's post, was Jen's Christian followers' responses to her support of LBGT people. I have to wonder if she replaced LBGT with liar or cheater or divorcee, would Christians so openly oppose her opening her arms and the arms of the church to them? My suspicion is not. Her post wouldn't have been a "statement" if it didn't involve LBGT. No one would have made a fuss if she said the church should open their arms to all the liars in the world. And essentially that is exactly what she said. Sin is sin. Jesus welcomes everyone no matter what sin you have in your life. You don't have to clean up your life before you go to Him. You just come as you are.
So here’s my plan. Starting next week, and for however many days or weeks or even months it takes to cover a good chunk of sin, I’m going to write my blog to a sinner. A sinner according to the bible: The Liar, The Adultery, The Lesbian/Gay, The Cheater, The Murderer, The Potty Mouth-er, etc…you get my drift. I will base what I call out as "sin" on Scripture but I will openly love the sinner, the person. I want people to understand that it is possible to call out the sin while lovingly accepting the person behind the sin. And I want to drive home one point: it is not my place to judge. My place is to love and share God’s words. God is the judge. The only judge.
So Monday I will kick off this journey. I'm calling it my #lovethesinnerexperiment. If reading about your sins in the bible, offends you then I will aim to offend everyone, every sinner.
Mark 12: 29-31
Jesus replied, “The most important is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the only and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other command is greater than these.”
Sins, sinners and love,
One of a Kind
Like many other women, I have become addicted to LulaRoe over the last 6 months. And not just to their buttery leggings which are awesome…I’m actually more addicted to their many other styles of clothing. And luckily I have a good friend that is a consultant and let me try on every single style and size this past week. Naturally this is great news for me because now when I see something I like, I know exactly what size is most flattering on me. The concept of "flattering" got me thinking. As I was trying on various styles and sizes, I couldn’t help but think about the many different body types and sizes there are among woman (and men). Lularoe has found a way to make clothes for many different body types and I hope women are finding a style and size to make them feel beautiful. Because too many times woman who are sized differently from models in the fashion industry are left to feel different, and maybe even ugly. A day shopping for clothes can definitely take a toll on your self-esteem.
My mom and I were talking about self-esteem last week. And how neither of us embraced our long legs until later in life. In fact, I pretty much hated my long legs, arms, hands and feet until maybe the last 5 years. And honestly, there are days I still don’t love my long arms. You know how they say if you measure the length between fingertip to fingertip, it should equal your height? Well if that were true, I would be 6 foot 6 inches. I’m only 5 foot 9 inches. I have some ridiculously long arms. I had my own, personal "built-in selfie stick" LONG before selfie sticks were a thing. I’m just long. So everything is short on me. For example, I accidentally dried a Nike winter running pullover on high heat and now it’s a 3/4 quarter length top on me. So frustrating. And I would imagine woman who are short or round or have areas of their body that aren’t quite like a cookie cutter get equally frustrated or discouraged when clothes do not fit. Or you can’t find your size. Or the store doesn’t make your size. It plays on your self-esteem and even your perception of self-worth. And it’s hard. And sad. Because God made each of us different and unique and collectively we all contribute to a world full of beautifully different people. If I put aside my fashion frustrations, there is something overwhelmingly breath-taking about the fact I’m one of a kind. God crafted me just the way I am.
You made all my delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand. And when I wake up, you are still with me.
If I am tall or large or even obese…God made me and loves me and knows me and my struggles. He thinks we are equally beautiful exactly how we are today. Or how we are going to be tomorrow. And sometimes we just need that reminder. He sees past our outward appearance and we would be best served to do the same.
Beautiful, different and one of a kind,
Lessons from a former manager
I went back to my old workplace today. I’ve only been gone for 3 months but the organization has undergone a tremendous amount of change. I love change. However, change is not always beautiful. And change without growth is kinda pointless. I love the saying “Change is mandatory. Growth is optional.” It’s just so true. I think the major difference between change and growth has everything to do with people.
I tried to soak up as much time with “my people” (my former co-workers) in between working at my new job. If you are reading and I didn't get to connect with you...I miss you and will see you next time. For those I caught up with this time, as I listened to you all, my friends and coworkers, I was reminded of an important leadership concept: people matter.
My final paper in grad school was on what I felt was the most significant thing I learned in school. I started the paper with something like “Everything I learned can be summarized in one word: people.” People should be your first priority. And not people in the sense that you have 4,000 employees but rather people in the sense that Sally, who happens to work for you and is a valued employee, is struggling with life and needs support so she will remain one of the 4,000 employees. There’s a big difference between a number and a person. BIG difference. BIG.
Nurses and other healthcare professionals are just people who love taking care of other people. So as a healthcare leader, you have to consider both the people you are leading and also the people (patients) they are taking care of. I had a quote posted in my old office, “If you aren’t taking care of a patient, you better be taking care of someone who is taking care of a patient.” This pretty much sums up my view of being a leader. My job as a manager was to ensure the unit ran appropriately but my role as a manager was to take care of my team. You have to see the best in each team member and motivate them to be the best version of themselves. And you have to forgive and permit second and third chances. You have to recognize that if your employees’ lives are balanced, work will not be their first priority. And it shouldn’t be. Life should come first. The trick is learning how to let them to live, support them and still keep work in the top 5 things in their lives.
As I connected with former co-workers, I listened to them tell me about what was going on in their lives. Tales about illness, moving houses, finding better job opportunities for family life, pregnancies, struggles,…I could go on but you get the picture of our conversations. We talked very little about work. They talked about work only as it related to their lives…how work fit into their lives. As a manager, you have to manage in such a way that work fits into the lives of your employees. You have to build relationships.
Jesus was spectacular at building relationships. There's so many examples of Jesus building relationships with His people. Actually to think of it, there's equally as many examples of Jesus building relationships with people that were not His people. In the book of Romans, Paul gives us great guidance on building relationships:
Romans 12: 9-13
Don't pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble and keep on praying. When God's people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
And how you build relationships with your coworkers, will either build up or destroy your team. Learn to see their potential. Be a human and admit when you are wrong. Recognize the bottom line is important but it is not important as the lives of your employees. Be forgiving. Be understanding. Listen more than you talk. And when you talk, remember you are speaking to another human being. Respect every team member as a human being. And stay calm (Not sure I will ever master this one!).
So as a former manager looking in at an organization I both miss and love or just as an open letter to a future leader…remember the people. They are all that matters.
Leadership, lessons and distance,
Embrace Your Place
I wish I could take a snapshot of the look on people’s faces when I tell them I’m moving to a small town in Mississippi. Don’t get me wrong, Mississippi is not on the top of my places to live. It’s not even in my top 10 places to live. But it’s where you’ll find me smiling in the future.
I’ve moved around quite a bit in my adult life. I’ve lived in big cities, small cities and cities that were more like a town than a city. Small towns aren’t as exciting on paper but there’s a quaintness and realness about them. And thanks to the world wide web, nowadays you can just order what you need from a big town. (Blue Apron is a game changer...check it out.) I’ve learned, you just have to embrace your place. Regardless of where you live, you make your journey. If you aren’t happy on your journey, maybe you haven’t learned to embrace it.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
This week I’m back in Florida for work and I’m trying to soak up all the little things I miss about living here. The food, the ocean, the festivals, the sunshine and the people. There is so much I love about it. Over the last several months, I could have spent time dwelling on all the things I miss about Florida. Instead, I’ve intentionally sought out things to fall in love with in my new small town. The beautiful sand dunes, the forest trails, the sound of the trains, the azalea blooms, and the best cupcake shop I’ve ever been to (seriously…Happycakes Cupcakery. Hands down the best cupcake I’ve ever had and I’ve had A LOT of cupcakes in my life. http://www.thehappycakescupcakery.com). And I’ve met some amazing friends who have welcomed me with open arms. I embraced my move to North Carolina and I will embrace Mississippi in the same way. Now, you might be thinking, it's easy to fall in love with a place when you always live near a beach. However, I can describe amazing things and places I've found from Connecticut to California and the all places I've lived or visited in between. I’ve learned to live in the moment and I’ve realized God places us in specific places with specific people for a specific purpose. And it's in this small realization I can allow peace to overcome my soul as we prepare to move again. As you move through life, all you have to do is embrace your place and watch His perfect plan unfold.
If you find yourself questioning where you are in life…stop questioning it and embrace it. Live for the moment. Stop and smell the roses, listen to the ocean or watch a bird soar in the sky. You can find God's beauty and be overcome with peace wherever you are. If you aren’t meant to be there, God will find a way to move you. And when He moves you, roll with it.
There’s a reason you are where you are.
Unexpected plans, small towns and a journey,
A Bad Day?
Have you ever had one of those days where you feel like nothing can go right?
Where you feel like the world is against you? You set a plan and it’s like the world is intentionally trying to work against you. For whatever reason, NOTHING goes smoothly.
Are there periods in your life when everyday feels like this? This is where I have been lately. Every day is a day filled with frustration. And naturally, I’ve been complaining about it. There are some days by 9a, all I have done is grumble about how horrible my day is and how nothing is right in my life. The Kerig cup exploded and spilled coffee all over the kitchen, one dog peed in the house, the other dog won’t stop barking, I didn’t get my morning bible study done, I’m behind on my work, I don’t have time to write, I have a headache, I didn’t sleep well, the thing I was waiting for in the mail didn’t come on time…I could go on but I think you get the point. And although I know in my heart, these things are trivial, I don’t let it stop me from complaining or constantly voicing my frustrations. And that’s what these things are…MY frustrations. It isn’t really the world against me. It is my skewed perception of reality.
A few weeks ago, Chris mentioned my grumbling. Bless him for being a great communicator and being able to confront me on my issues in a loving manner. God followed up on the seed He planted through Chris with a huge sock in the stomach (God was definitely more blunt than Chris!). This past week in my bible study, we talked about grumbling. I’m pretty sure God chose that specific topic to be covered in my bible study with the entire purpose of reaching me. The book we are studying is Don’t Follow Your Heart by Jon Bloom. The real sucker punch came with the statement “Grumbling is a gauge of the human soul. It gauges our gaze on grace. It tells us that we’re not seeing grace.” Ouch. When I grumble, my intent is really just to “vent”. However, if this "venting" is a reflection of my soul, then I have quite a bit of cleaning up to do.
And as we discussed grumbling in the context of grace, I realized I deserve every little frustration or inconvenience that comes my way. I actually deserve a lot worse and it is by grace God intervenes in such a manner that I have it so good. And by grumbling, I lose sight of so so so many things.
So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you. Then you will sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, making music to the Lord in your hearts. And you will always give thanks for everything to God the Father in name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
First of all, when I grumble, I lose sight of the fact that every single little or big inconvenience or barrier I find in my day, is working together for God’s glory. His plan is perfect and there is a purpose behind every perceived hang up. This reminds me of something that happened when I was a kid. Every Wednesday night, a friend’s mom would take us all to church (Awanas) and we would stop by the 7-11 convenience store to get a Slurpee. I remember one Wednesday we were running late and didn't get to get a Slurpee. I’m sure my friend’s mom was frustrated and from a kid's perspective, not getting a Slurpee pretty much meant the world was ending…I mean being deprived of a sugary cold beverage is like the end of the world, but not. Little did we realize, God was intervening on our Slurpee outing with intent and purpose. The next day we learned the roof of the 7-11 store actually caved in around the exact timeframe we would have been getting our Slurpee. For that night, whatever caused us to run late and miss our Slurpee, also saved us from a dangerous, potentially fatal, situation. Everything works according to His plan.
And grumbling doesn’t only undermine His plan but it also elevates my needs and my plan above His plan. Think entitlement. When I grumble about things not going according to my plan, it is as if I feel I’m entitled to having a plan and that my plan is better than His. This all goes into the idea that grumbling is a gauge for when we lose touch with the reality of grace. God’s plan is my life…and there is so much grace wrapped into my life, all that should come from my mouth are words of thankfulness, praise and glory to God. I am blessed beyond words or measure. The insignificant frustrations are disguised distractions from His plan, His purpose and His worship.
Finally, grumbling is a poor witness to others. Think about someone that does not know Christ, looking at you grumbling about your personal frustration. Does that reflect Christ’s love, patience or kindness? Grumbling is a reflection of an ungrateful heart.
It is clear to me, I have some serious work to do. I need to dig deep and ask God to clean out the ungratefulness in my heart so I can reflect His love in every moment of the day. Because I am blessed and it’s best I start acting like it.
Grace, grumbling and a sucker punch,
Is this really the plan?
Have you ever questioned if where you were in life, was actually where you were supposed to be? I've had moments when I thought, "God, are you serious? How is THIS the plan? Couldn't we come up with something better than this?" I've definitely had moments when I questioned God's plan or I didn't understand God's direction but I just had to blindly move forward and trust Him.
I'm not someone who looks back and questions the path I've taken all that often. I'm of the belief God's plan is always executed and when we make mistakes, God uses those mistakes and everything proceeds according to His Will. However, I am someone that contemplates decisions and spends time in prayer over upcoming decisions. When I don't understand the plan, I definitely let God know. And I'm comforted by the fact some of the more "famous" biblical characters did the same thing. Take Moses for example...
Moses said to the Lord, "you have been telling me, 'Lead these people, but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, 'I know you by name and you have found favor with me.' If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people." The Lord replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."
I love so many things in this passage. For starters, Moses was brutally honest with God. He was not shy in sharing how he felt with God or how he felt about God's plan. He was like "Hey God, if this is your plan can you help a brother out with some direction?" You just have to love his brutal honesty. And then God responds, in typical God fashion, with "I've got you and you will rest."
How many times have you asked God for guidance and His response was basically...have faith, I've got you! It's such a beautiful and warm response when life is all rainbows and butterflies and little ponies. But when you are lost, broken, hurt, or empty...that is a tough to hear. And sometimes it's even tougher to trust Him. How do you have faith when you feel as though you've lost everything?
Follow the lead of Moses. Moses was honest with God and said well then, show me Your Glory. (I like to think of Moses like Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry McGuire but instead of saying "Show me the money", Moses said "Show me your glory!")
Moses responded, "Then show me your glorious presence"
It was almost like Moses said: I'm really trying here God. I'm trying to follow your plan but your plan doesn't make sense to me. I feel like I'm in the dark. I need something, anything, just a piece of You to spark my faith. Show me something. And God delivered. God showed His Goodness to Moses and it was overwhelming.
I had a "really God?!?" moment about 6 months ago when I was looking for jobs in North Carolina. In fact, I wrote a blog about it. (Check out the Archived Blogs - November 2015 "Worship Over Worry") I"m not exaggerating when I say I applied for over different 20 jobs. I applied to positions I was qualified for, under qualified for, over qualified for...I applied to hospital jobs and I applied to jobs outside the hospital. And all I got were rejection emails. It's was so frustrating and I asked God "why" every single day. It was tough but I made the decision to trust Him and just step forward. Although I found and secured an amazing free lance job, I never found permanent employment and at times wonder why. However, over the last couple of weeks I finally realized why God wasn't answering my prayers for permanent employment in NC. God knew I wouldn't be staying in NC. It looks like we may be moving sooner than originally projected. If I had taken a permanent job, I would need to vacate my position early. It's amazing how His plan fits perfectly together and how when we trust Him, the plan makes sense eventually.
So when you are down and out and God is giving you directions that seem unclear. Be honest with Him. Tell Him exactly what you need and trust He will provide for you and eventually the plan will fit together perfectly, according to His Will.
Moses, the plan and honesty,
Bruce Springsteen and An Ostrich
I gained a ton of respect for Bruce Springsteen this weekend. He was scheduled to play a show in Greensboro, NC and canceled the show to demonstrate opposition to the HB2 law recently passed. Here’s a link to his statement: https://twitter.com/ABC/status/718521187492564994/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc^tfw
I don’t know enough about this law to comment on whether or not I agree with Bruce however, I don’t have to agree with Bruce Springsteen’s thoughts and feelings on this law to respect him. I respect Bruce Springsteen for knowing the law, feeling passionate about it and standing by his opinion of it. He is doing his part to take a stand; in his words: “Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry – which is happening as I write – is one of them. It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.”
We need more people like Bruce. People that educate themselves on what is going on in the world and do everything they can to advocate for what they believe in. I can respect him and his actions regardless if I agree with his interpretation of this law or his feelings related to it.
Right now there’s a scary thing brewing in our country. And I’m going to be honest; I am part of the problem. I’m no Bruce Springsteen (obviously!). There’s so much negativity in this country, so much hate, so much corruption. Our government is out of control. It’s so discouraging and overwhelming, I choose to act like an ostrich with my head in the sand. I just want it to go away so I don’t have face it, face our reality. I don’t always stand up for what I believe is right or wrong because sometimes I don’t even realize there’s a reason I should be standing. For example, I am a little bit like an ostrich when it comes to this upcoming presidential election. I have allowed the media to form my opinion of the candidates and now I just want to bury my head until it’s all over.
A few weeks ago, I streamed a church service from Church by the Glades in Coral Gables, FL. I’ve mentioned this church a time or two in previous blogs and again God delivered a powerful message on the topic of politics. I’m sure liberals AND conservatives may be surprised to hear the church didn’t support either side of the aisle. The service was a reminder (and a call to action!) that we need to engage in politics and not be ostriches with our heads buried in the sand (this was my takeaway). By the way, fun fact of the day - ostriches actually don’t bury their heads in the sand. They just put their heads in the sand to turn over their eggs. Anyway, back to this church service! Each of us needs to research and seek facts (not media facts but real facts!) on who is running, who is making decisions, what these decisions are…and stand up for what we believe in. In a roundabout way, the church called us to do what Bruce Springsteen did…get facts, form an opinion and take a stand.
So I am going to pull my head out of the sand and start a focused effort on learning more about local and federal government. I’m going to pray for wisdom in deciphering the messes we have going on in our government so I can form an educated opinion, make a sound argument and take a stand.
For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it. I, Wisdom, live together with good judgment. I know where to discover knowledge and discernment. All who fear the LORD will hate evil. Therefore, I hate pride and arrogance, corruption and perverse speech. Common sense and success belong to me. Insight and strength are mine. Because of me, kings reign, and rulers make just decrees. Rulers lead with my help, and nobles make righteous judgments. I love all who love me. Those who search will surely find me.”
If you are a liberal or a conservative or a member of the “I don’t care party” and have 35 minutes to spare, the sermon is definitely worth checking out: http://cbglades.com/teachings/ (It is part 1 in the series…Who would Jesus vote for?).
An ostrich, Bruce Springsteen and the USA,
A disclaimer and a facelift.
There are some days I wonder if I really know what I am writing about. I just feel so…inadequate. This blog was a New Year’s Resolution in 2014 after a particularly rough year of my life. When I started writing the blog, it was an effort to not only heal but learn to let down a wall and share more openly with others. My faith had to be a part of the blog because it is a part of me.
However, sharing what I believe God is teaching me and using bible verses and stories to support these “life lessons” just makes me nervous. There are days I think…”Just who am I to write a blog and share scripture with others?” Although I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time in undergraduate and graduate studies, only 3 credit hours have been on a topic even closely related to my faith and the bible. I took “World Religion” in my undergraduate studies at Florida State. So sharing the Word with others makes me nervous because….what if I say or interrupt something wrong?
A few months ago, I was sharing my fears and hesitation with one of my blog followers and she said she preferred my blog because I have no formal training. She was able to relate to it because it felt real; she said I brought Jesus to everyday life. (By the way…I considered this a huge compliment.)
And I hope other readers feel the same. There are days I really don’t know what I’m talking about but I think we are all in the same boat. We have the Bible for guidance and when we allow ourselves to be still long enough to feel and hear the Holy Spirit, I do believe the Holy Spirit guides us. But at the end of the day, we have to study the Word and fellowship together to make sense of it’s application. And if we look at Scripture for guidance as to when, who and where to share the love of Jesus Christ…we find that no training is required.
Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they say him, they worshiped him – but some of them still doubted! Jesus came and told His disciples, “I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age
When we look at these disciples, these followers of Jesus, we see they were flawed. Nowhere near perfect. And yet Jesus instructed them to go and make more disciples. When you dive into the lives of these 12 disciples, you find some denied Christ, one betrayed him, and many felt unworthy. They were human and flawed but Christ still used them. And He will use each of us…no training required.
So my disclaimer and constant reminder to my readers is that….this blog is flawed. The author is flawed. I would even go as far to say the author is damaged goods. You may find spelling and grammar errors because although I love to edit, any writer knows it’s difficult to edit your own thoughts. (By the way, If anyone is looking to do some editing I might be interested in teaming up!). You may find some days I write fluffy notes (about puppies) and other days I write with a heavy heart and dive deep into my faith in Jesus. The blog reflects my heart and feelings on day-to-day life. Some days I feel God is near and then other days I have to intentionally seek Him in the strangest little places.
Regardless of these disclaimers, I also just want to thank you, the reader, for encouraging me. Today my blog received a face lift to represent a stronger commitment to blogging. I recently set a goal of publishing 3 blogs a week and I promised myself the first time I met the goal, I would make a commitment to keep it up. Well, it’s Friday and this is the third blog of the week. My goal was to post Monday, Wednesday, Friday but for some reason this past Tuesday felt like Wednesday to me and I accidentally published early! I wasn’t kidding when I said the blog is flawed.
So here’s to a facelift and more blogs coming your way.
Flaws, blogs and a facelift,
So you think you want a puppy?
I'm starting to think God created puppies solely to test our patience and perseverance.
God blesses the people who patiently endure testing. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
We got a puppy about 6 weeks ago. And not just any puppy. The cutest puppy you've ever seen....clearly I'm biased. For this puppy's sake, it is lucky he is so cute because I'm running out of patience with the whole puppy thing. And he's lucky he hasn't destroyed any shoes yet. My love is inversely related to his love for shoes, my shoes in particular. As his love for my shoes goes down, my love for him goes up. At the moment, I have nothing but love for little man. But I warn him daily; that can change at the drop of a dime or one little chew of a shoe.
Let's start with two words: House Training. Either my chocolate lab (who quickly has become the world's most perfect dog in my mind!) was super smart with house training or I have amnesia and have blocked that entire period from my memory because our little puppy is just not getting it (By the way, I'm secretly hoping by writing this, it will motivate him to have a great day house training and prove me wrong. I dare you little man, I dare you. Prove me wrong!)
I don't think house training would be such a big deal if not for one small detail we failed to consider as "potential puppy owners"...we are living on the 3rd floor of an apartment for the next several months. So something as simple as letting the dog out, involves climbing stairs every. single. time. We considered all sorts of things like the fact I'm working from home, we have no major trips planned until next year, we are only in an apartment for a few more months, etc. We just didn't consider our current altitude and the stairs to get to the altitude of a 3rd floor. And we should be ashamed...Chris is a pilot for goodness' sake. He's all about altitude. Needless to say, my legs and butt are firmer than they have been in quite some time...the ONLY bonus from house training.
The other test of patience comes with what the puppy can and cannot eat. For example, his new found favorite place to be is inside the dishwasher so he can eat scraps from our dishes. I'm actually surprised the dishwasher door has not come unhinged because our puppy is hefty. I swear every time he goes down for a nap, he wakes up bigger. (And yes...I have "mandatory nap time" for this little one.) But honestly, licking food off dirty dishes is the least of my concerns when it comes to him eating random things. It gets much worse...
We have a lake in our community and although peaceful to stroll around, this lovely lake attracts frogs. And it's spawning season so we have frogs aplenty. To give you a picture of what this situation looks like, take out your bible and open to Exodus Chapter 8 and read about the Plague of Frogs. They are EVERYWHERE. Don't get me wrong...I'm not afraid of frogs. I mean, if it were lizards, I would be bunkered down somewhere. It's just frogs. However it makes our evening puppy walks MUCH more interesting. Between me trying not to step on the frogs and then trying to keep the puppy from eating them, it's quite a sight to see. Two days ago, cute adorable puppy found a dead frog that had been partially run over by a car. You would have thought he was an olympic runner with how fast he sprinted from me with frog guts literally hanging out of his mouth! No matter the amount of yelling and scolding I did, he wouldn't let go of that dead frog. I know frogs can be poisonous but there was no way on this green earth I was reaching my hand in his mouth to retrieve frog guts. Not. Happening. So I lost that battle but thank goodness after a few chews he dropped it and didn't end up ill. Oh the patience. This requires so much patience. I shouldn't have to tell him to not eat frog guts or get out of the dishwasher. And I shouldn't have to tell him to stop chewing on the electrical cord plugged into the wall...yes, that just happened as I typed this blog. Shouldn't that be puppy common sense?
And yet for every time I tell him "no" for the hundredth time, I'm reminded God experiences the same thing with me. Maybe we are puppies to Him. He looks at us and is so in love with us...proud of us...enamoured with us. However, we take patience. How many times does He have to tell us one simple instruction for us to listen and abide in His word? If I consider His instructions in my own life and my inadequate response rate, it is clear His patience far exceeds my own.
If only I had an ounce of His patience I might survive this puppy stage. In the meantime, I persevere.
And now it's time to take the puppy out...again.
Patience, perseverance, and puppies,
Grace Beyond Comprehension
I just watched Schindler's List this weekend...for the first time. Yes, I realize I'm over two decades behind the times. This will come as no surprise but I found the movie incredibly moving.
As I watched the horrific, unimaginable treatment of the Jews, the term grace came to mind. I was speaking with a friend last week and she referenced a circumstance in which I should grace towards someone that has repeatedly wronged me. The details of the situation are not important but the idea of grace should not be lost.
(Just to clarify I'm equally in the wrong more times than I would ever describe in my blog. Please don't let a few examples of the times I've shown grace towards others paint a picture perfect Ashley for you. FAR FROM IT.)
People do wrong...it's the ugliness of our human nature but still we are called to show forgiveness and love regardless of the wrongs against us. There have been several periods in my life where I felt God particularly calling me to share grace with others and unfortunately when God calls you to do this it usually means people are going to wrong you. And you may feel lost and broken. However, I have found a tremendous amount of healing through grace. I find the act of forgiveness often sets you free from the pain.
However, as I watched Schindler's List I wondered the limits of my grace. If I had been a Jew in Poland or Germany during the World War II time period and had been treated as Jews were treated...would I be able to have grace towards the Nazi soldiers persecuting me? Honestly, I don't know if my grace extends that far. I can't imagine grace that big.
And yet this is the beauty of Christ. His grace is THAT big. On Easter Sunday our church pastor made an incredible comparison to describe Christ's love, forgiveness and grace through His death on the cross. The pastor referenced those commercials on tv where if you give $ 0.31 a day to provide water, food and shelter to a small, innocent child living in poverty. He said Christ's death on the cross was so applicable and free to every single person...it would be like if you replaced the small innocent child in that commercial with a member of ISIS. He asked how many people in the church would give $ 0.31 a day to provide water, food and shelter for a terrorist? Would I provide for a Nazi concentration camp soldier when his or her entire mission was to wipe out a group of people chosen by God? This is how far Christ's love, forgiveness and grace extends. He doesn't care what is in your past, present or future. He loves you irregardless of your actions. He just seeks your trust and faith in him. That's His grace. It's so far and wide, it is beyond comprehension.
For no one can ever be made right in God's sight by doing what his law commands. For the more we know God's law, the clearer it becomes that we aren't obeying it. But now God has shown us a different way of being right in His sight - not by obeying the law but by the way promised in this Scriptures long ago (see Isaiah 53 for reference to "promised in the Scriptures long ago). We are made right in God's sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done. For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard.
And for that I am thankful. I am so thankful I don't have to worry about if I have it in me to extend grace that big to others. Because if I'm too weak or angry and I fail at righteousness (and I do daily), Jesus's grace is wrap around me. And it could be wrapped around you too? Just trust it.
1993, a list and incomprehensible Grace,
Just a few reflections about everything God is teaching me in this life...a journey deeper into His purpose for my life.