Posted in Forgiveness, Grace, Kindness, Leadership, Mercy, Patience, Perspective

No Pogo Sticks Either

We stepped out for an hour this past week to have a short meeting with some of our leaders at church. Since we would only be gone for about an hour, we allowed our youngest daughter to stay home alone. She has matured and we have begun allowing her to be at home for short periods of time as we run errands or hold short meetings. Our compound where we live in Bujumbura is safe; we have neighbors behind and beside us that are as concerned about the security of their homes as we are ours and we knew that she would be alright for an hour.

The security drill is as follows: keep the phone nearby at all times and answer every call or message we might send. The doors stay locked, no going outside, and no surfing the internet (we lock devices away). TV is allowed as is homework; almost torturous I know! Feeling satisfied that she hadn’t totally tuned us out during our “I know all this mom” discussion over rules and safety, we set out for our meeting.

After an hour, we made our way home and as we walked to the door, I saw her sweet little face greet us from a window as we entered, “I want to say that I had fun! I had fun!” My mommy senses were tingling, something was definitely up.

Sweet fingers nervously folded together she explained that the past hour she had played with water in the living room and created a slip and slide – the floors are perfect for sliding. My eyes betrayed my feelings, “I made a slip and slide! You’re mad aren’t you mommy?” Rewinding the tape of my own childhood antics in my brain, I briefly relived a few of my own moments. No sweet girl, I wasn’t angry I was actually impressed; I had never thought of making a slip and slide in the living room, nor had the three older ones ever come close to this level of ingenuity. Her eyes pleaded for leniency, she had tried to clean up after herself and she did have fun.

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Relieved that water hadn’t been spilled on electrical appliances or anything that could be damaged, her punishment was to dry the floor (we have a super clean floor right now) and endure the lectures that ensued for days afterward. While it seems she might have gotten off lightly, if ever there’s another slip and slide, there will definitely be greater consequences to face. She assured us, “I won’t ever do that again mommy!” But, the slip and slide will forever receive props from all of us and the memory of I had fun will endure in my parenting records and on into subsequent generations.

This afternoon she is playing with friends and again the house is a playground, we often say that this is Andreya’s world, we just live in it! I did end up sending them outside as the ruckus was getting beyond our ability to contain and now the party continues by the laundry line. Listening them makes me smile, the mess really doesn’t matter, it makes me so very happy to see her happy.

I think God must laugh at some of the messes we create, our slip and slides in the living room, that we thought would be fun to do but later created a bit of a mess to clean up. The effort of cleaning the mess is punishment enough, lesson learned – hopefully! Next time, it might not be so easy to escape the consequences.

Today, I had to step out for a few minutes and the usual run-down of rules had an additional item or two added just in case:

No slip and slides, no hot air ballooning, no flying trapeezes and no pogo-sticks either!

 

Posted in Faith, Grace, Perspective, Pride

Excluded

No one likes to be excluded, left out, or ignored. We actually go to great lengths to be accepted; everything from clothes to speech and friendships gets filtered through the test of cultural acceptance. This happens gradually, so gradually that we may not even be aware of its importance to us until exclusion stares us in the face and challenges our decisions, accomplishments, and values. Those things that vie for our attention, time, and approval, demand that we bow to the pressure of their “importance.” Without the appearance of certain things in our lives – money, popularity, and security – we risk exclusion from those groups that are esteemed in society.

To get included, it’s amazing the lengths we go to the “sell” ourselves and seem “worthy” of acceptance. I remember there was a time in my life when I was part of a group where each person was expected to refer and have people be referred to them by others in the group for the purpose of growing one another’s businesses. The principle sounded logical and needing new business, I was hopeful that this group would bring help my way. Getting entrance into the group was a process but somehow I managed the hefty fee and was approved. Each week, I had to give a short minutes-long speech that would hopefully convince other members to help me. There was even a trophy that circulated among those few (usually a select few in the group) who gave the best speech. Pictures would be taken and updates would be posted on social media. Defeated, I never won the trophy and after a year, let my membership go. I felt utterly defeated and my speeches on what a good job I could do seemed to be all for naught.

As I reflect on those days, I see how that scenario, although extreme, plays itself out almost daily on those of us who are lured into trying to gain acceptance by noting all of our achievements. Those achievements, which one day are acceptable and the next day useless as society changes, do little to secure our worth.

Romans 3:27a ESV “Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded…”

There is a group, one that I’m profoundly thankful to be part of, that doesn’t require me to make a flowery speech about how good I am at what I do. The speeches given at that group are always of the Founder Who takes all of His qualifications and gives them freely to those who request entrance. No one is ever turned away or denied entrance because of their personal flaws. Were our entrance based on our accomplishments, each application would be marked, “Denied.”

Yet, by grace and mercy, as we are accepted, the only exclusionary clause is boasting of ourselves. That gets left at the door, the pressure to perform is gone, and everyone is in the same category: saved by faith. The only requirement is accepting free entry offered by the Founder.

Ephesians 2:8,9 ESV “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Posted in Courage, Goals, Grace, Missions, New Year, Rest

Goals and Grace

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Setting goals. It’s what everyone does at the beginning of every year; we make lists of “resolutions” or “goals” for the year. I have a laundry list of things that I wash, rinse, and repeat every year: be a better wife and mom, get healthier, read more, give more, work harder in the mission, the list goes on. I have gotten very specific at times, to the point where, at the end of the year when I see that my list fell woefully short of completion or success – I got discouraged. Lately, my goals have gotten non-specific in order to keep myself from feeling totally defeated on December 31st.

In our day and age, we relish in the activity more than we do in those engaging in the activity and that, at least for me, has bled into how we perceive ourselves as successful or not. Don’t get me wrong, having well thought plans and goals are good. Without maintaining some kinds of goals, we risk stagnation in every area of life. However, if we place too much weight on the side of the scale of goals, it could interrupt the balance between goals and grace, we may find ourselves striving to achieve rather than running the race with endurance.

Hebrews 12:1b NKJV “…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

I believe we have exchanged what is meant to be the prize, being told, “Well done, enter in!” (Matt. 25:21) for what we can achieve in the here and now. The measures of success in God’s Kingdom have to do with His grace, not our works (Eph. 2:8). By His grace we are enabled to endure and finish the race, and if we learn to run in the cadence, as it were, of grace we will go far and see much accomplished for the Kingdom.

This year as I set my goals I’m making a change. I’ve decided that His grace is great enough to help me see Him do great things through me – not the other way around. In myself, the little that I can achieve isn’t even mediocre in comparison to what He can do with His great power if I just sit back and let Him take the driver’s seat.

Acts 4:33 NKJV And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.”

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