Are you spiritually fat? Because I was…and I am still working on it…

James 1:19-23

James 1:19-23

I have not worked out in weeks.  My scale hasn’t gone up, but I’ve noticed.  I’m a little mushier, less energetic and more irritable.  Our bodies need exercise–no matter how or what kind, we need it.  Not to be skinny; because Lord knows THAT isn’t happening, nor do I desire to be “skinny”.  I want to be healthy and feel comfortable in my clothes.  But, if I don’t DO it, no one is going to do it for me, and I’ll keep feeling like crap-o-la.  No thank you.  But, with our new adventure of home schooling, my time is far more limited.  Like everything though, what is my priority?  Because if I can’t find 25 minutes to hang out with my frienemy Jillian Michaels, I NEED to make an adjustment in my day.  So I finally did.  I am squeezing in my work out during “recess.”

What a difference that makes.  And, as I was working out, I reflected on my spiritual life.  And there was a time when I was spiritually void and spiritually obese.    I think there are four places we can be: 1. Spiritually void. 2. Spiritually obese. 3. Spiritually fit. and 4. Spiritually skinny. And, as you can guess, being spiritually fit is our best place to be.

Before I came to know the Lord as I do now, I was spiritually void.  I knew nothing of the Bible, knew nothing of Jesus, really, and I only had religion.  Did you know that Jesus is not at all interested in our religion?  I grew up in the Catholic church.  I hated it.  Dreaded EVERY Sunday.  I hated CCD classes.  But, I was forced to go by my parents, so I did.  Now listen–if you are Catholic reading this–don’t get mad at me.  This is kind of like how we can talk bad about our mothers all we want–but if anyone else says something about our Momma–watch out, because them are fighting words.  I was Catholic–so I know all about it and I believe the root of the church was great.  But, too many people got in the way of God’s beautiful Word.  Anyhow, I had a spiritual hole in my heart.  I knew something was missing, but did not realize it until college that it was Jesus–a relationship with Jesus is what I was missing.  I was spiritually VOID.  If you are spiritually void–don’t be any longer.  Seek The One who gives life–and life more abundantly.

I quickly became spiritually obese.  And I was for YEARS!  If your story is anything like mine, then you discovered a whole new life in the Lord and became hungry for His Word and the truth.  Poured yourself into Bible studies and ate up every message on Sunday and possibly Wednesdays too.  That was me–for YEARS.  But, as we worked through the book of James, I was so convicted–in countless ways.  But most of all I realized just how superficial I was and how spiritually fat I was.  I had been stuffing myself full of His Word daily, studying it intensely, but I was sharing it with no one, really, other than my Bible study girls.  James so badly is trying to have us realize that if we really are His, then there will be tangible evidence of it. And the only real evidence of a life sold out to Christ  is by our works.  What are “works”?  It is righteous behavior that conforms to God’s Word—specifically compassion.  Now, please don’t hear that James is opposing faith.  He isn’t.  What he is saying is that our faith can’t just be intellectual, in our heads—void of any commitment to active obedience.  Let us not be mere “hearers” of the Word, getting fatter every Sunday, but pouring it back out into our community in love, as “doers.”

Often times, as new believers we can be fearful that we don’t know enough to serve, etc. That, sweet sister, is the enemy whispering to you to keep your light from shining for all to see.   Do not listen to his lies and step out there and get serving. Don’t be like I was and make excuses…I don’t have enough time, we are too busy. We are all busy. Do you think the people out there living it out for Christ have a life less busy than you and me? Hardly. They are making Christ and sharing His love a PRIORITY.  And we all need to do the same.  There are countless ways to serve – anyone can be a greeter at church, well, maybe not Oscar the Grouch, but any else.  Let us not just donate the cans of food that have been in our pantry for too long once or twice a year and check it off our “good person check list.” Let us talk to our church—and see where there is a need and pray about filling it. I was so desperate to serve after our James study and my church was so full of healthy servants they didn’t have a place for me! Ahhhh! I was so sad—so I went to Saturday church cleaning days with Hannah and we cleaned our church! Let me tell you–we know how to make a water fountain SHINE!  I wanted more, but I took what I could get.  And, that was the start of my spiritual weight loss program.

We want to incorporate more serving into our family life, but for now, my husband and I teach the youth on Wednesday nights, sponsor our Compassion sweetie Vivian and try our hardest to love people with everything we have by ministering to whomever and however we can.  And, for us right now with 5 children ages 8 and under, this is a full load. But, we are looking to pump up a bit by serving in our community once a month. Just like our physical health—there is always room for growth.  I am going to be so bold to say, if you are not serving in some capacity you most likely have to shed a few pounds, spiritually speaking of course.  Do it.  Because chances are, you know your Spirit has been crying to serve for a long time, but you’ve put other things ahead of it.  There is no joy quite like the feeling of loving others when you know they can give you nothing in return.

Jesus told a parable that also illustrates how true faith reveals itself through doing good to others. Here is Matthew 25:31-46.

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.

All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats,

And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;
I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.”

Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, “Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?

When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?

Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?”

And the King will answer and say to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:

For I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;
I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.”

Then they also will answer Him, saying, “Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?”

Then He will answer them, saying, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.”

And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Powerful words spoken by our Savior.  One of the most important lessons I have learned is that God isn’t kidding about what He says in His Word.  Do be careful not to take Scripture out of context and jump to conclusions about anything.  And pretty please do not look to Christians instead of Jesus.  So many people yell “hypocrite” when they see a Christian fall from their view that we are perfect.  We are not!  We are ALL sinners!  We ALL blow it!  Why are people so surprised when we mess up?  We are not trying to fall on our faces–most of us.  We are not trying to misrepresent our Savior Jesus.  But good grief–look to Him and His words–not us, mere humans.  We are not holy.  He is.

Oh, how I long to hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant” when I see my Savior someday face to face. I do not want to hang my head, thinking about all the things I put before His service. Again, this is not a “work your way into heaven thing.” We are saved by His grace ALONE. There is nothing we can do to inherit heaven. Christ did it all. But, if we are claiming to be His followers, there should be tangible evidence of that.

I am hoping that as the years of my life press on, I become more and more spiritually fit. Right now, we have a house full of children who need our time, love and attention. But, I STILL need to make time to serve. I didn’t for a long time, and I regret it. I did not grow up serving—I was served. I want my kids to grow up serving—it is just what we do; not this foreign thing that we have to relearn. I pray I am never spiritually fat ever again. Let’s get out there sisters and tend to the needy, love the hurting and feed the hungry. There are countless ways to do it. Do not stress over which one or which way – just DO IT.

But, as much as we can be spiritually void, obese and fit, we can be spiritually skinny too. And just like being too skinny physically—it is not healthy. This is when we have overcommitted ourselves. Now, if the Lord is calling you to a life like Paul—and ministry is every breath you take and every word you utter—you do it and press on! I am praying for you! But, be careful to heed the Holy Spirit. There are tons of great causes and ministries out there-and they all want you and your time. But, just because something is good, does not mean it is what God has for you to do. Pray about what the Lord would have you do. So many families in ministry struggle and have trouble because they are spiritually skinny. They are unhealthy, pouring out too much, and have lost the balance. It is okay to say no. Make sure you are saying yes to some area of service, but be careful not to say yes to everything.

Press on sweet sisters!!  And get spiritually fit if you are not already!

Blessings Mamas,

Lori

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If a picture is worth 1,000 words–then role playing is worth a million!

With every child born into our family, I become a better mother.  Not just a better mother to my children, but to other kids too.  I am SUCH a more compassionate, sympathetic, caring, and understanding Mommy–that I definitely was not before.  I simply could not understand other children’s behavior, actions, etc.  AND, some of the things their parents did and more importantly did not do left me scratching my head all the time.  But, as our family has grown–I’ve grown.  Thank heavens.  Because you know what?  Some kids take a lot longer to be potty trained than others–no matter what you do.  Some kids are just more aggressive than other kids and it takes a LOT more effort to teach them self control than other children.  Some kids will do the opposite of what you ask of them every. time.  While others jump to obey.  And with each of these differences, we as parents have to adjust our parenting style.  Lucky you if all your kids are the same and what you do for one works for all of them!  But chances are, if you have more than 3 kids, your armor has softened, your heart is a bit more tender and you are a little more sympathetic…at least I am.

Character is a BIG deal for our family.  So much more important than being a reading wiz or math genius–we want our kids to love Jesus and love people.  And for us that starts with their character.  But, besides telling them what they should/shouldn’t do, or expecting them to just know what to do, we’ve begun modeling it through acting and story telling.  And, so far this has been the most effective tool for our family.

It was a Wednesday afternoon, and we were running late (SHOCKER!!) for Hannah’s ballet class.  I let Hannah out first, telling her to run to class (not wise), as I shuffled the other kids out.  And as we entered the building, I saw Hannah tearing down the hall to get to class on time.  And after she turned the corner, I heard it.  THUMP!  Waaahhh!!  Oh dear…

I rushed to see what had happened.  A little tyke was toddling around the church hallway and Hannah flattened him.  5 year old vs. 1 year old never ends well.  The Mom was super gracious, telling me “it’s ok–he’s got lots of older siblings and is used to it,” but I felt TERRIBLE!  I ran over to Hannah and told her she had to apologize to the little guy.  She flat out refused.  Oh, if there is one thing that gets this Mommy flat out angry–it is an ill mannered child–especially MY CHILD!  Oh, if you could picture it…me death gripping her arm, speaking slowly and lowly into her ear with that deep down, through gritted teeth talk “you’d better go over there and tell him you are sorry Hannah Elizabeth Benjamin, or we are going to have SERIOUS words when we get home” kind of voice.  Didn’t matter.  She refused.  And apart from me hog tying her and moving her mouth and lips for her, there was no way an apology was going to happen.  So, I profusely apologized for my child flattening her sweet boy (ugh), and went home hot with frustration at her behavior.

What in the world?  What is so hard about apologizing?  I know she didn’t mean to run him over…just say SORRY!!!  Then, in honor of Despicable Me 2, a “light bulb” moment occurred.  She was embarrassed.  Completely mortified to the point of hardly being able to stop crying and hiding in my legs.  And after I realized that, I wondered if maybe, just maybe, if I show her what to do, it won’t feel so foreign.  So when the time comes again, she will know exactly what to do and why she must do it.

So, after ballet that day, we talked about what had happened.  Sure enough, she felt terrible and couldn’t face the boy or the Mommy to apologize because she was so embarrassed.  But, I explained to her that even when we hurt someone on accident, an apology is necessary to show you care.  No need to ask for forgiveness–that is for intentional hurt.  But, saying sorry–yes.  So, we re-enacted the whole scene again at home.  Everyone played a role: we had Hannah–the running maniac child, little dude–the sweet boy who was flattened, and Mommy to little dude.  And, can I tell you–they had SO much fun!  And, I could see in all their little faces that they “got it.”  Now understanding that no one is mad at you in such an instance, but that an apology is showing care, concern and love to whomever was hurt accidentally.  Hence the birth of the Benjamin acting school.  Now, we act out everything we can.  The sky is the limit!  We do Bible stories to bring them to life and every kind of social situation I can think of.  We act out what a bully looks like and what to do if you see it happening– if a child “looks different,” and other kids are making fun or being rude.  We tell them “exactly” what to do and say.  I am talking VERBATIM.

This may sound crazy, but again I will go back to coaching–I cannot help it; it is what I know.  As a player, my coach could tell me over and over how to adjust my arm swing or correct my platform for passing, and I understood a little.  But, if he actually showed me or had someone else show me–ah-hah!!  Yes!  I can copy that.  We are visual; kids are visual.  Give them something tangible to copy.  And as you can imagine, I didn’t get it right the first time I tried to adjust my arm swing.  But after practicing it over and over and over and over the RIGHT way, it was second nature.  I no longer had to think about it.  It was what I did.

So yes, we parents need to be examples to our kids in our own behavior.  But, I believe we need to do more than that.  We need to act scenarios out, make up stories and have our child be the hero in it–oh how my kids LOVE those stories.  And not the typical hero saving the damsel in distress…no, simple, everyday heroes–like talking to the new student who is sitting all alone, asking the teacher if they can help clean her classroom,  or be kind to the girl who just spoke ugly to you, tell someone to STOP if they are talking ugly about another child, offer to go last instead of pushing your way to be first (unless of course we are playing a sport), you get the idea.

Are my kids perfect?  Heavens NO!!  But, goodness they are sweet and they are making improvements daily.  And, at the end of the year awards for Hannah’s class a week ago, she was not the top reader or the math or science wiz, but she did receive something far greater in our economy–the “Hero Award.”  Her teacher went on and on about this “special friend” in her class, who had great integrity, honesty, kindness, perseverance, etc.–I was tearing up for whoever this child was–and then she said it was Hannah Benjamin.  Proud Mommy moment?  You bet!  Now, I am fully aware that my girl is VERY capable of behaving totally opposite to all her teacher was saying.  But, the fact that she’s working on it at home and doing a pretty good job of it at school…I will take that.  Yes, I will most definitely take that–and celebrate it!!  And, if you are in the middle of training your children like I am and your child has a moment like my Hannah did (plowing over a kid and refusing to apologize).  Don’t fret.  Just politely tell the other Mother/Father : “Sorry, we are currently working on that character trait.”  And leave it at that.  Then work on it at home.  They will improve and most assuredly do better the next time.  I am wholly committed to train this next generation of kids on how to LOVE in both words and actions.

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”  Proverbs 22:6

Receiving the “Hero Award” from her teacher.

Blessings Sweet Mamas,

xo Lori

For more on saying “sorry” vs. “asking for forgiveness” check this out :

https://onesurrenderedmommy.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/the-lost-art-of-forgiveness-lets-bring-it-back-because-it-is-beautiful/

 

You want me to love like what? Like that? Yes.

I have always loved the Greeks.  Their intriguing myths, their grand architecture and sculpture, their delicious food—and, I happen to know a few Greeks, and they are quite something!  But, one of the things that I appreciate more than all of those is their language.  A simple word for us in our English dictionary is just that, simple.  But, for them, they have separate words for each subtle difference.  It is beautiful.

The Greek word that I really wrestled with last week was agape.  Now, this is most likely old news to you if you are a Bible nerd like me…but in case you didn’t know…can I tell you something really cool??  Our word love, in Greek has multiple meanings?  And when we read the word love in the Bible, we really should know which love it actually is referring to.

Here are  few:  First, we have agape.  This is spiritual love, truly unconditional love, completely selfless; it gives and expects nothing in return; whether the love given is returned or not, the person continues to love.  Wow.  Yep, that is agape love, and that is God’s love for us—everyone, believer or not.  You all know the verse John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,…… See the ‘loved’ in that verse?  In the original language, that is agape.  He loves us all, whether or not we love Him back, spit in His face, use His name in vain or crucify His Son.  He. Still. Loves.  You and me.   Again, old news to most of you.  But, what hit me so hard this past week was realizing that I am supposed to love like that too.  Before I get ahead of myself let’s be sure to refresh ourselves on the other “love” definitions.

Next up is eros.  This, as you can probably guess is physical and romantic love; dating, marriage, more than friends.  You get the picture.  But, again, in the Bible, this would just say love.

Third is phileo. I like this one; this is “mental” love, brotherly love.  This is love that has a give and take relationship.  Think Philadelphia—city of what?  Yes, brotherly love.  This is for most of our friend relationships I imagine.  Or at least it is for me.

Then there is storge.  This one means “affection.”  Natural affection—like the love we have for our children.  It is innate, we love our children before they are even born, it is completely amazing and we feel it with no effort on either side.

So, as I was preparing my lesson for my sweet middle school and high school girls last week, Paul, in his letter to the church at Colossae wrote of their “love for all the saints. (Colossians 1:4)”  Ok, what kind of love are we talking about and who are ‘the saints?’   Well, it is agape love here and the saints are ‘holy people, who are set apart,’ meaning believers.  Now, hear me—NOT perfect people, but people who belong to God.  These are our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.  So Lord, You are telling me that I am supposed to love, like agape love my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ?  Ummmm, I am not sure I can do that.  Because when I really think about that, like really meditate on that, who can I say in my life that I love like that?  I mean, let’s start with the easiest people, my husband and kids.  Of course I love Petersen more than any other person on the planet, and my children are next.  But, they love me back; therefore that is easy love; hard at times, but really, easy.  Ok next, friends and family.  I LOVE, like LOVE my girlfriends and my big extended family; but, they love me back too, it is reciprocal.  This is phileo love.  I wish I could say it was agape love, but I am not sure I would be great friends with someone who I kept pouring out to and pouring out to and received no love back in return.  This is not agape love because it is conditional.  Ugh, no bueno.

Hence, my struggle.  I realized that I don’t even love my family and friends with this thing called agape love, yet my Savior wants me to love my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ with this kind of love!?!  Lord, how do I do that?  Like really, how do I do that?  I am a mother of five children who are little and very needy!!  But, my heart truly truly desires to obey His Word, because I know He means what He says.  So, sponsor a Compassion child?  Sure, we do that.  But, we get sweet notes and pictures from our girl Vivian and it fills my heart.  Bring a meal to someone in need?  Sure, I do that whenever I can; but I get a huge hug and a ‘thank you.’  Again, fills my heart right up.  Everywhere I looked, I was receiving back.  And I really truly want to do this thing, but how?  It was weighing heavy on my heart, because I was convinced I could not do it.

As my study continued, the dagger dug deeper.  “The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now.  The one who loves (agape) his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.”  1 John 2:9-10

And “If someone says, ‘I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love (agape) his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”  1 John 4:20-21

Here are a few more you can look up;  1 John 3:14-15 and 1 John 3:10

And every time love is used in those verses, it is agape love.  I began to feel sad, burdened and like an utter failure to my King.  Then I was reminded of the fact that Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30.  Agape love should not be a burden if it is real and genuine.

As I prayed through this, He gently spoke to me in church on Sunday.  This thing called agape love—it is the church—His church.  Not just the physical place where we congregate and worship.  It is the church—the family of Believers all over the world.  And we can show real agape love in tons of different ways from serving at our local church to supporting missionaries on the other side of the earth.

Our church here in north Georgia is small—like super small.  Think church plant; and that is our church.  Our children alone make up half of the entire children’s ministry, and we all know if someone is new on Sunday or Wednesday.  Small church.  We came from a mega church—Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale, then to one quite a bit smaller, Calvary Chapel Tallahassee; but never to one this small.  We know this is where we are supposed to be though, no doubt.

I often wondered why God moved us to Tallahassee; because when we prayed about moving out of south Florida, it was to be up here–in north Georgia.  Not Tallahassee.  Why the pit stop Lord?  We loved our time there and we made the most amazing friends there; some lifelong friends.  But, I still wondered why.  I will ask Him when I see Him.  But now, I think I know why.  It was a time of growth for us.  There’s so much more to it, but in trying not to be too long-winded, I will just say that.  Had we come straight here from Ft. Lauderdale, I would have been far too immature of a Christian to stay at this church.  I would have wanted more programs for my kids, a Bible study up and running, VBS, a borderline professional band on stage for worship and the most eloquent and seasoned teacher.  I hate admitting this now because it is so shallow and selfish.  But, true none the less.   That is not my church, yet.  All of those things are great—wonderful things for churches!!  We hope to get there as soon as possible, so please don’t mishear me.  Big churches have great benefits, but there is something precious and beautiful about a small church.

My husband and I recently started serving our church on Wednesday nights.  Our kids go to bed at 7:30ish; church starts at 7.  Huh.  How is this going to work?  Doesn’t matter; we knew it was our time to serve, and He would work out the details.  But, with us serving, they needed someone to watch our kids so we could teach the bigger kids.  Geez, are we helping or are we a burden?  And this is what God so sweetly showed me, the beautiful picture of the church (or at least this small aspect of it).

Stay with me here;  I serve the middle/high school girls, women rotate through and serve my children, Petersen serves the semi-bigger boys, our pastor serves the high school boys, our parstor’s wife serves the ladies, and more women serve on Sunday mornings so I can be served in service.  Get that?  If we all, as a church just give and serve where there is a need—may I submit that that is agape love?  Because what is our greatest possession to give?  Our time; we can never get it back, ever.  I would argue money is second.  But, I am not going there today.  If you think there are no needs at your church, you are wrong—ask.  There’s always a need.  The question is, are you willing to do what they need?  What if they need someone to clean the bathrooms after service?  Or help out in the toddler room?  NO!  Anything but the toddler room!!!

So, are we willing?  Are we willing to inconvenience our lives for the sake of others?  For the sake of His church?  Are we willing to do what no one else wants to do.  AND, after we do it; expect nothing in return—and be ok with that?  No pat on the back, no service hours to check off, no certificate of appreciation, no article in the newspaper applauding your service, no one highlighting what you did in the bulletin?  Just serving, purely out of the need in our heart to do so—stemming from our thankfulness for the cross.  And when it is rooted in thanksgiving, it doesn’t feel like serving, it is not a burden—Lord knows He doesn’t want us serving if we are dreading it, or begrudgingly doing it.  And this is NOT a “earning our way into heaven thing.”  Or “trying to be a good person thing.”  Both are impossible.  We all fall short, and faith alone secures our eternal residence.

I know I have a long way to go to be able to love with the agape type love that He requires, but one day at a time, I am hoping He refines me more and more, so that loving like that comes easy.  He alone can make that change in me; and I am trusting Him to do it.  One surrendered day after another.

Blessings Friends.

You know what? Nice matters.

Image

My Samuel with eyes so dilated, his eyes look black.

Today is rainy and cold, again.  Spring is NOT here yet.  Last week was long and HARD.  This weekend was super busy.  My husband and I are TIRED.  But, there’s no explaining that to five demanding children.  We push through.  And, of all days that I could have used some compassion and encouragement, it was today.  And, usually, I can find it, through a friend or reading in His Word.  Not today.  The grey clouds and rain remained, and I was feeling discouraged.  My son Samuel needed an eye exam.  My husband had some things at work that he needed to be there for, so that meant everyone besides Hannah had to come with me.  So, I had my 2 month old, my potty training 2-year-old, my four-year old, and my six-year-old son with me this morning at the eye doctor.

The place was beautiful–it even had a “cinema room” with a huge tv and a movie playing; complete with bean bag chairs.  Great.  All was going smooth until the Dr.’s assistant came for us.  I could tell by the smug look on his face, he was not thrilled to have pulled Samuel’s chart.  No smile. Nothing.  We follow him back, and squeeze into the exam room.  He works with Samuel, just friendly enough to not make Samuel cry and then I can tell my girls need to go potty.  Great.  But hey look!  There is a bathroom right across the hall–I am talking 5 feet maybe.  Perfect.  I’ll just scoot in there with the bigger girls and let him continue on with Samuel.  He notices we are headed that way and says “Ugh, I cannot do anything further until you are back…” to which I just looked at him blankly, like, “um, what would you have me do?  Do ya want to wait a few minutes and let my little girls use the potty or clean up a mess of pee?  Totally up to you Buddy.”  He must have read my blank expression and said, “ok, go take them.”  I was proud of myself for binding my tongue, though it was HARD.  I hurried the girls as fast as I could, and they did great cooperating.  When I walked out of the bathroom, he was waiting outside the room and walked back in without a word and continued on with Sam’s exam.  I was tempted to defend myself with “Just so you know, I took them both potty before we left.  This was a 45 minute drive for us.  And I have been trying to take them potty while we’ve been waiting, but the sweet old lady in the bathroom told me ‘Sorry Honey, I am going to be a minute,’ after I knocked to see if there was actually anyone in there it was taking so long!”  But, what would that have done?  Help?  Maybe.  But, I doubt it, so I held my tongue and forced a smile.

I really could have used some compassion, a smile, some kind gesture.  I know my family is a lot and I never want to be a burden on anyone.  And, I would have loved to just bring Samuel.  But, I couldn’t.  Because as far as I know, it is still frowned upon to leave children home alone.

All this to say; nice matters.  And we have a choice.  I know not everyone will choose compassion, kindness and just niceness (totally not a word, but I like it), but each one of us can choose it and make a difference with the people we come into contact with everyday.  And, did you know that you can encourage someone across the world from you?  My husband’s uncle who lives in Thailand recently joined Instagram; and can I tell you how much of an encourager he is to me?  What a blessing he has been these past few weeks–just by comments he has left on Instagram!  My Pastor taught yesterday on the great power God has given us; and we have a choice one way or the other.  I thought about it the whole way home and wanted to share his teaching and add a few more to his list…

We have the power to create life and the power to take life.

We have the power to love and the power to hate.

We have the power to submit and the power to rebel.

We have the power to create and the power to destroy.

His question for us at the end was, “What are you doing TODAY with the power God’s given you?”

I love that.

And with that, there could be endless more to add to that list.  A few that came to my mind–especially as women and Mommy’s were:

We have the power to encourage each other as Moms and we have the power to discourage each other (and remaining silent can be just as discouraging as words).

We have the power to be a part of the solution and we have the power to contribute to the problem.

We have the power to think the best in people and the power to think the worst in people.

We have the power to be selfless and the power to be selfish.

And, we have the power to pass judgment and the power to show grace and compassion.

Lord help me get these right more often than not.

Blessings Friends.

Image

This is the face of one tired Momma, who could have used some kindness today.