Turn Around to Say Goodbye…


Have you ever loved someone who’s stuck in a rut?

From the outside looking in, you can see what’s going on.  You may have even told them as much.  You have prayed and cried and encouraged and listened…yet there they go, just like the Israelites. Only steps away from the promised land, but NO…one more trip around the same, dumb mountain.

Or maybe it’s YOU?  You can’t seem to figure out why you are repeating the same patterns.  You remove people from your life to avoid making the same mistakes.  But, you end up surrounded with different people tripping over the same old log.

I’ve been the friend of that one.  But, I’ve been that one, too…at least, until I began to recognize the origin of the problem.

It all goes back to an original set of choices.  Perhaps, stemming from a misplaced hope. Sometimes, the root is an internal promise that has been long suppressed. Anyway you slice it, it comes down to taking a look into your past and correcting your course to the future.

Now, this comes at a premium cost…It’s the cost of looking back.

I have heard too many (including myself) declare defiantly, “Why do you always have to go and bring up the past? I don’t even think about things from back then!”

The more ‘religious’ turn of phrase would be, “It’s under the Blood of Jesus.  I don’t see why we need to discuss it anymore.”

Yes, it’s a dead issue and yes, it’s under the blood…but just as if you’ve entered the Zombie Apocalypse, unless you take it’s head clean off, it will just keep getting up on it’s own, attempting to devour you whole.

No, your past mistakes don’t have to dictate your future…but they will do just that, if you do not take the desperately important step to turn around, face them, see them for what they are and CHANGE THE BEHAVIOR that brought you to that point. ONLY THEN will you be able to face your future and walk away from what was, into what should be.

It is vitally important to see your past to leave it. Not just see it…take a little time to pick it apart.  Find that root of unforgiveness.  Search out that original fracture in your heart that you constantly try to protect, by keeping your guard up, instead of exposing it to the healing light of the Holy Spirit.

I’ve spoken many times about my upbringing.  I’ve talked about how I continued to bring drama into my life time and time again, no matter where in the world I was.  It’s not about external geography.  This is about navigating the geography of your heartbreaks…Bridging the divides of your soul. That’s what helps you to get beyond your past into your promised land.

I had to go all the way back into the choices that were made for me that created a sense of abandonment in me.  They kept me from letting people leave my life on a good note.  And they kept me clinging to people that I knew would not leave me, even though the only reason they stayed was because I was a willing host to their parasitic behavior. They were destroying my soul and keeping me from real love, lasting peace and healthy relationships.

Once I confronted the heartbreak, I was able to make a stand against my own foul behavior.  I was able to repent to God for the messes I kept making again and again.  I apologized, when I was able, to those whom I could find.  And, I forgave myself for the time it took to get to this place of peace. (We are usually hardest on ourselves once we begin to see clearly.)

It was only then that I was able to lay all of it at the foot of the Cross of Christ, to be covered by the Blood of Jesus once and for all. And only then was I able to remove the predators and parasites from my life for good, to make room for people who could truly celebrate and encourage me and allow me to return the favor.

Now, I have to be completely honest.  This liberty is a mixed bag. I rejoice in my own freedom. But, when I see people I love that find themselves in the same predicament, it’s frustrating and painful.  It makes me really sad, because I know the cost they are about to pay.  And I can’t pay it for them.  I have to pray and stay out of the way.  When they’re ready, I can help.  Sometimes, I have to wait on the Lord to send someone who is not so close, to provide a different sense of perspective for them.  But once they’ve taken the time to say those last goodbyes, I’ll still be there when they’re finally ready to face their future and move forward.  That’s all a real friend can do.

goodbye

That’s The Thing About A Slingshot…


Tested. Tried. Picked, poked and prodded. Run through the ringer. Rode hard and put up wet.

Yep…that’d be me, right about now.

I have been struggling and striving for good things to come my way, my whole life.  I have never actually had my life so much as appear to have ‘fallen into place’ until recently.  It has felt like my life was FINALLY going in the right direction. Until the beginning of this year.

I have been marveling, in great gratitude, at the strides that have been made in my life the last two years.  While it has not been a particularly smooth dance, each step appeared to have purpose  Even the backward steps helped me to regroup and move forward.  Sometimes it feels like a slide or line dance, that kept me moving in circles until the music stops. Sometimes it’s more like a tango with a lot of back and forth, with broad, sweeping motions, full of twists and turns, with sharp dips, sudden changes and  a heart-pounding conclusion. Either way, I’m feeling pretty exhausted and wrung out.

This year has confirmed my faith and relationship with God in the worst way.  I have never felt more sure of God’s love for me and His plan working out for my best interest.  I have never been more secured in my devotion to my church family. I have never been more affirmed in my decisions to love unconditionally, forgive quickly, celebrate goodness and rejoice in ALL THINGS.

This confirmation has not come without great pain and great surrender. I have had to acknowledge how very NOT in control I am.  I can only make MY choices. I am not responsible for the choices of others.  And to be in this world, making connections for the sake of furthering the Kingdom of God, I have to accept that free will is EVERYONE’s gift from God, not just mine. To work together means we have a common goal, but we each have to do our part as we are individually lead of the Lord.

I say it all the time, “My name is NOT Holy Ghost, Junior.  Fixing you is not my job.” My ability to ‘shape’ a situation in my favor does not exist.  The heart of the king is still in the hands of the Lord. He will turn it however He pleases that He may be glorified. And, if I am going to truly be a vessel for His glory, I have to be okay with that.

And so, my job in all of this is to maintain consistency in who I know I am and what I say I believe. That consistency has to reflect in, not just my decisions, but in how I respond to the decisions of others.  How, even in my dissidence, I must maintain the grace, class and dignity befitting my royal bloodline.

Having said all of that, this year has felt like a major regression.  My feet have not slipped.  I have not deviated from the plan. I have certainly not changed my mind and my heart is still in it. But, I appear to be in a state of excessive tension, backward and sometimes circular motion that is beyond my control.

That’s the thing about a slingshot…

You remember slingshots, don’t you?  Whatever variation you have seen, held, or heard about, there are some common points of reference.

There are the kind that are made with rubber bands.  You take something and cradle it in the elastic, hold it tightly, pull it back as far as the band will stretch, to release it in a particular direction.

There are the kind made out of fabric.  You take something and cradle it securely in the fabric, swing the fabric around rapidly to be released in a particular direction.

I’m sure there are other ways to create a slingshot.  But the experience is pretty much the same.  There is force and tension applied, keeping an item in motion and in a particular state of distress and stasis, so that when it is finally directed and released the constant velocity of the item will project it a great distance to a specific goal.

In a nutshell? While it feels like stagnation; while the regression and running in circles is frustrating, aggravating and even depressing; while I may feel dizzy and nauseous and achy and strange; the accelerated progress I am about to experience at the point of my ‘release’ will be worth it all.  I will see the promises of God come to pass…SPEEDILY…if I don’t give up, turn coward and quit.

Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

I hear the sage advice of my darling buddy, Dave Brooks: Staywiddit.

The Just Thing To Do…


It’s been the best of times. It’s been the worst of times. This last year (and then some) has been a DOOZY.

There have been a great many contributing factors: great love, great forward motion, great heartache, great frustration, great resistance. I have never been so close to the promises of what God has for me and still feel quite so far away.

AND YET…

To say that I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor His seed begging bread is beyond an understatement! God’s faithfulness in this last season has been phenomenal!

One of the greatest challenges in this season has been trying to explain the “logic,” of what I am doing and debates on whether or not my decisions are based in “reality.” When the truth of the matter is, the logic of what I’m doing is not founded in reality.  My decisions, my responses, my intrinsic intuition has been trained to function by FAITH.

When I show kindness to someone who, by any account, has treated me unfairly, that is neither a natural, logical or emotional response.  My emotional response would be to pout or be angry. My logical response would be to reject them and no longer associate with them. My natural response may be to retaliate. But, by FAITH I know to bless those that curse me, ACTIVELY love those that hate me and pray for those who despitefully use me.

When I have almost nothing, when I’m down to my last few bucks and all my bills have come due,  I still find it necessary to put $10.00 in somebody else’s pocket.  Now, where’s the logic in that?  Emotionally, I may feel pity for their situation, but my fear for what lies ahead for my own dilemma may keep my hands in my own pockets. I might naturally conclude that $10.00 isn’t really going to help them very much and it surely isn’t going to help me to give it away.  But, by FAITH, I realize that, by being helpful to someone else in the struggle, I am lending to a God who consistently repays.  And, while that may not be a lot of money, it might just be the ray of hope they needed to hold on a little longer, until things got better.

There are a lot of things about my life that would have given someone else an excuse to give up. So many things that would imply that the whole deck was stacked against me and that I should just get out of the game.  I can’t even deny that there were times when it felt like the easiest thing would have been to take my own life. Even with my extremely high threshold for pain, I have hurt so bad that all I could think about was a way to escape and never feel that pain again.

So, what am I doing HERE? A long time ago, I read the book of Hebrews for the first time.  I found it FASCINATING and challenging.  It talked about how we received the gift of salvation the same way we will receive every good and perfect gift from God: BY FAITH. Then, it went on to remind me that everyone I’ve ever read about in the Bible has been to the same point of exhaustion I was experiencing. Despair and exhaustion are part and parcel to the real faith walkers.  But the promises of God give us hope.  His track record of faithfulness gives us peace. The victories of those who have walked this walk before us, give us courage. The joy of being able to count ourselves among those faithful gives us strength. But it’s God’s love within us that compels us to get up every time we stumble and keep walking BY FAITH.

Habakkuk 2:4 and Hebrews 10:38 both say that, “The just shall live by faith.”  According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, the origin of the word JUST is based on a word that means right or law.

It is right that, whatever you did to get a thing is what you should continue to do to keep it. So, if it was by faith that you accepted the opportunity to be in relationship with God, doesn’t it make it RIGHT that your relationship be based on that same faith? And, doesn’t it make sense that all the the promises that God made to you and for you as a benefit of that relationship, would be based upon that faith? That also means that deviating from that faith would cause you to forfeit some,if not all, of those benefits.

For all of the negative things that have happened to me and all of the hardships I’ve faced, I thank God that I have kept the FAITH.  And because of that, I’ve continued to see those promises come to pass.
It doesn’t matter what it looks like.  It doesn’t matter if your faith walk doesn’t appear to make sense to people. It doesn’t matter if the crowd is moving at a breakneck pace in one direction and you are either going in the same direction at a different pace, going in the opposite direction or standing still. If you are trusting the instruction manual for your life, being lead by the Holy Spirit and walking by FAITH, you are going to see the promise of God come to pass in your life.

10 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be


Kaleidoscope Perspectives:

I was going to write an, “End of the Year,” blog…I still might. BUT. I think this dude said it way better than I could have. It’s time to move forward…it’s time to move up…it’s time to move on.

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

Alex DramAlex Dram

1. You ascribe intent.

Another driver cut you off. Your friend never texted you back. Your co-worker went to lunch without you. Everyone can find a reason to be offended on a steady basis. So what caused you to be offended? You assigned bad intent to these otherwise innocuous actions. You took it as a personal affront, a slap in the face.

Happy people do not do this. They don’t take things personally. They don’t ascribe intent to the unintentional actions of others.

2. You’re the star of your own movie.

It is little wonder that you believe the world revolves around you. After all, you have been at the very center of every experience you have ever had.

You are the star of your own movie. You wrote the script. You know how you want it to unfold. You even know how you want it to end.

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Scars and Souvenirs


“Here’s to the twilight
here’s to the memories
these are my souvenirs
my mental pictures of everything
Here’s to the late nights
here’s to the firelight
these are my souvenirs
my souvenirs.

“I close my eyes and go back in time
I can see you’re smiling, you’re so alive
we were so young, we had no fear
we were so young, we had no idea
that life was just happening
life was just happening…

“We were so young, we had no fear
We were so young, we had no idea
That nothing lasts forever
That nothing lasts forever

“Nothing lasts, nothing lasts
You and me together
Were always now or never…”     ~  Jon Foreman, Switchfoot, “Souvenirs”

I cannot count the times I’ve heard it asked, “If you could go back in time to your best day as a child/teenager/young adult, would you?”

I have heard people say on many occasions that they would love to relive being eight, or twelve, or seventeen. They recount these lovely stories or tragic tales of a lost loved one that they wish they’d had more time with, or recount the perfect day.

“If only I could have that day/moment/season/year back.”

I think to myself, is there any measure of time I genuinely wish I could retrieve? And the answer is, inevitably, a resounding no.

My childhood essentially sucked. For every one of the wonderful, awe-inspiring and magical moments that were sprinkled throughout my youth (and I must add…there were MANY), there were whole landscapes of crud and mold and yuck that consumed my everyday, inhabited with slimy, creeping, crawling critters of the two-legged variety, far more often than the four, six, or eight-legged ones.

The memories of positive and negative experiences share the same space in my mind.  They are all very valuable to me…now.  It’s kind of like comparing scars and souvenirs.

By virtue of the length of their definitions, scars seem to carry a more significant weight, but souvenirs imply a greater sense of value. A souvenir is something that serves as a reminder; a thing that would cause to one to recall or bring to mind, usually referring to something good or worthy of recollection. While scars do the same thing – serve as a reminder – they evoke a more negative response. Scars tend to be the things we would rather forget.

A scar is indicative of something lost, removed, worn or injured.  It implies violence, aggression and, often times, some form of violation against that which has been scarred. Scars serve as a reminder of pain…until they don’t.

“Nothing lasts forever…” Even the worst days of your life eventually end.

Too often, we spend too much time with the scars.  We pick at them prematurely and cause them to aggravate us. We do that…to ourselves. We expose ourselves to the people and things that inflicted the injury before there has been ample time for healing. We let people and things that have no business interacting with those wounded places poke, prod and pick at the wounds that have not completely scarred over, creating unnecessary irritation and infection, adding time and additional pain and suffering to the recovery process.

But, when the wounds heal and the scars don’t hurt anymore…

It means that the injury has has time to be infused with strength…more strength than it had to begin with. It means that the sensitivity has lessened, so much so that we no longer feel the need to be overly protective of exposing the once-injured place. It means that we have learned how to be proactively preventative to avoid experiencing another injury like that one.  We can now, not only relate to others with similar injuries, we can help others avoid being injured in a similar way.

…Not only are we better for that injury, others around us now benefit from the experience of it.

I think about Joseph.  His childhood dreams nearly cost him his life, several times.  For a season, they cost him his freedom. He found himself in one precarious situation after another. But, when you look at it from the end of the adventure of his life, had he not paid the cost, he may have never seen his dreams fulfilled. “We were so young…we had no idea that life was just happening…”

Joseph told his brothers that what they meant for evil, God meant to do good.  God’s good prevailed, not in spite of the evil, but because of it.

In the end, even the experiences that nearly killed us; the ones we thought we would never get through; the pain we thought we could never endure became something for which we could be grateful.  And in that, our scars became souvenirs.

“Can you hear me?
Can you hear me?
…I wouldn’t trade it for anything…my souvenirs.”

Openness in Communication


Kaleidoscope Perspectives:

THIS is why it is so important to have a Kaleidoscope Perspective! The closer we get to the coming of Christ, the more we are becoming ONE. The more we become ONE, the more prepared we are for His coming. We are of many, ONE.

Originally posted on PerSpectives 12 Ministries:

Holding a perspective of openness positively affects cross-cultural communication in ministry because it creates an opportunity for Christian hospitality in a diverse environment. Simply stated, biblical openness reflects characteristics of accepting (e.g., Matt 20:16; John 4; Luke 5; Rom 15:7), not passing judgment (e.g., Matt 7:1-29) and understanding (e.g., Prov 2:2-5; 18:2; Col 4:6; 1 John 2:9-11) people from various cultures.

Jan Paron/August 26, 2013

Openness supports hospitality. When believers communicate with an open demeanor–accepting, not judging, and understanding–they impart an invitational tone to a conversation. Consequently, communication welcomes nonbelievers with Jesus’ light, as well as bids their Christian brethren to reconcile in unity. Jesus modeled openness that often broke cultural boundaries. His exchange with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well exemplified cultural border crossing. When Jesus spoke to her, He ignored centuries-old animosity between Jews and Samaritans due to strong racial and religious tensions. As a result of His encounter with the woman, she went into the city and told other Samaritans of the Christ (John 4:28). Jesus then stayed in their village for two days, exposing…

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A Clean Heart is Better…


Grace is a marvelous concept!

To be given an immeasurable number of chances to get ‘it’ right.  Simply by virtue of being able to rise in the wake of a new day, to be given another SET of opportunities to get start over…again!! What a gift!

Often, we take that gift for granted.  We squander our days like a child wastes quarters on the bubble gum machine at the laundromat. As if it were simply something to do. Oh, the arrogance of man! Being given one, taking with it the expectation of another.

To those of us who have been naturally considered to be expendable or a waste of space because what appears to be our lack of potential, this ought not be so.

So much about my life is a complicated mess.  I am not the best put-together person you would ever meet – on any level – not by a long shot.  I am clumsy and uncoordinated, almost completely lacking in sophistication. I would rather walk in a room barefoot than in any pair of shoes, designer or otherwise.  I laugh too loud, cry too hard, and fall UP the stairs.  And, I’ve never been accused of keeping a perfect house.

To the untrained eye, I appear to be an unholy mess.  I, most of all, would be loathe to disagree.

(Maybe it’s my hormones – which run in the extremes – but, even as I write this, I struggle to keep my tears at bay.)

But, I love my life! I love the God Who gave me this complicated, nearly disastrous life.  I love His word and I love His people…not perfectly, but completely.

My life may be a mess, but my hands and my heart are clean. To keep them that way,  I strive to stay in God’s presence, just as He intended for all us to be from the first, in the Garden.  I live before Him continually, naked and unashamed. I expose my life, my heart, my soul to God in the hopes that He never has to come looking for me like He went looking for Adam.

At times, I just sit quietly at His feet and listen.  I wait to hear His heart, for Him to tell me what’s on His mind. It keeps my life in perspective and reminds me that His plans for me are extraordinary! It also helps me to stay in love with myself and others, because I can feel and hear how much He loves us all.

I love the scriptures that talk about God taking the foolish things to confound the wise, or how little becomes much when God is in it.  They give me hope and keep me grateful, even when I feel like I will never get ‘it’ together.

If you can use anything, Lord, you can use me…

My whole life, I’ve been surrounded by people who were determined to keep up appearances.  If it isn’t right and can’t be right, we can make it look right, so no one will ever know.  Bright smiles for the camera!  We can put together an outfit that looks designer; no one needs to know that we’re not well off.  What happens here, stays in here! And, whatever you do, DON’T TELL!!!

My entire existence flew in the face of the appearances everyone fought to keep up. And for that, I was condemned.

There are times, even to this day, that I am judged by those who claim to know me best from “way back when.” They have this semblance of having ‘it’ together: love, respect, connections – the appearance of affluence at a premium price, paid by someone else.  A price I chose not to pay for all the things I’ve learned to live without.

But they think I am the one who is lost and without hope. They question my relationship with God. But, the meaning in the dawning of each new day goes virtually unnoticed, except to mark the passing of another thing off their agenda. All that’s left for each of us is to pity and pray for one another, that God would have mercy.

As another day comes to a close, knowing another day is not necessarily a guarantee, I take another moment to assess my situation.

My bills?  Whatever’s left after tithes, they can have.  My laundry? Maybe it’s washed. Maybe it’s folded.  Maybe not. Perhaps I have my shirt hanging in the closet.  But, maybe it’s on the floor by the bed.

The mistakes of the day are placed, next to the triumphs of the day, brought humbly and gratefully to the foot of the Cross for the Lord who has asked that of me.

Of all the things that I could have
Or wish to keep together,
Rather than a tidy life,
I think, a clean heart is better.

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Love Like a Gentle Rain


True love…real love is an amazing thing.

Many people are familiar with the passage of scripture that explains and defines what real love is and is not.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Some might believe that this kind of love is rare or hard to maintain. I think that’s only true if you are trying to fake it. PRETENDING to show real love is VERY hard work. It goes against any logical response to the behavior (or misbehavior) of others. It’s kind of like being under a magnifying glass in the direct light of the sun.  The heat of the moment will cause the facade of love to either melt away or catch fire, consume and destroy you. Either way the truth will come out that what was being shown wasn’t really love.

Real love has almost nothing to do with the people around you.  It is a direct response to receiving God on a most deeply personal level. When you come to a place of intimately knowing God (not completely knowing, but intimately…there is a difference), and you recognize how truly He loves you, He somehow alters your DNA and you BECOME love as He IS love.  It is at that point that loving others is no longer predicated on the ability of others to do or be anything FOR you.  It becomes an organic extension of your nature to love, because God is in you.

I have had the tremendous fortune to see both sides of love. I have lived long enough to have people in my life that tried to love me (but did not truly know how) and people who genuinely did (and do) love me. I acknowledge that I have learned the difference in when I was merely trying to love as opposed to when I was actually loving. The effects of both have been astounding in their contrast. Using my own personal experience as a test pattern, I can say I have learned quite a bit.

The differences between attempts at love and actual loving are the difference between a pressure hose and a gentle rain. Both will get you clean, but the effects of the processes are painfully apparent. The power is in the force behind them.  One is harsh, aggressive, even abrasive. The other goes virtually unnoticed until the change is evident. Both have the power to turn a mountain into a mudslide and break rock. In the instance of the power hose, everything happens so fast that it becomes destructive. The rocks are jagged and sharp, and you can see the shape of all that was lost under the covering of mud. There is a genuine need for a time of recovery in the wake of its destructive power. With the gentle rain, the flow of things is so easy and natural, the end result appears as if it had always been that way. You don’t know which rocks were actually broken from other rocks or what was under the mudslide in the first place. This natural process enables the environment upon which the rain fell to move forward as to never miss a beat.

I am discovering this more and more in the company of this wonderful man that loves me.  Nothing about the pace of our relationship is pushed or forced…anymore, at least.  I had come from the school of, “If you know what needs to be done, just go ahead and do it…NOW.”  I was (and, at times, still am), very pushy and demanding about things I believed should have been done yesterday. His approach is, “If it’s supposed to be this way, it will happen.  Relax.  Let it happen. Stop trying to MAKE it happen.” These are the things about him that bring me to a deeper love in him and for him than I ever imagined possible.  I am overwhelmed by the gentle outpouring of his love and care on a constant basis. He daily typifies God’s love for me.

God’s love is constraining without constricting, like in 2 Corinthians 5:14; it is pure and peaceable and easily entreated like in James 3:17; it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, like in 1 Corinthians 13:7.

I am learning to reflect that love to others as it is being shown to me. With God’s help, I will.

EGR: Extra Grace Required


I think I’m a pretty cool person.  I am smart and kind.  I am comical, but I’m not very funny, even though I laugh a lot with my friends. I’m actually quite literal…I don’t get sarcasm quickly, so smart remarks and deadpan jokes get lost on me. I don’t consider myself a classic beauty, but I am not an ugly woman, by any means. I am a faithful friend…loyal to a fault. It takes an awful lot for me to decide I’ve had enough of someone. I have been very busy these last few years, but when I am being a homebody, I love to cook.  I am an excellent cook; mac and cheese, roast beef and potatoes, turkey tacos, spaghetti, sour cream pound cake, pistachio delight, chocolate chip cookies…and my favorite cake to make is vanilla wafer cake.  And, I cook with love in every bite.

You might say I am the total package.

But what kind of package would I be if I weren’t at least vaguely acquainted with my flaws?

(Aha…betcha didn’t see THAT coming?)

There is tremendous liberty in knowing one’s own boundaries and limitations.  It is of utmost importance if you expect to witness your own greatest success. It is vital to know, not only what you are capable of, but what tendencies you possess that could trip you up or slow you down if you don’t keep them in check.

For example, I hate to disappoint people when I know they are counting on me.  As a consequence, I tend to try too hard.  I try to know what I’m supposed to know and probably everybody else is supposed to know.  I suppose it’s  in an effort to be indispensable.

And, I chase squirrels.

I cannot recall any conversation I’ve ever had, any assignment I’ve ever completed (any blog I’ve ever posted) that did not take longer than it should have for all the detours I’ve taken.

These are only some of my own frailties that I am aware of.  I have more that I know about. There are scads that about which I have no clue, I’m sure. But the nice thing about knowing what your flaws are is, it doesn’t bother you so much when people are bothered by you.  You can understand, even appreciate their irritation, frustration and angst that you produce.  You can even empathize with the emotion you provoke.

It makes it easier to apologize, too.  Which makes it easier for others to forgive you, even if you cannot completely provide for them a remedy.

But, the BEST THING about knowing the best and the worst things about myself is that I am comforted by the fact that I am JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE.

**JUST FOR CLARITY* Everyone is UNIQUE with a particular set of gifts and talents whose sole purpose is to build up the body of Christ, to glorify God. WITH THAT BEING SAID…**

I am just like everybody else in that I am blessed with assets and liabilities built into my personality.  Knowing that makes it easier when other people exhibit areas where extra grace is required.

The fact is this: Everybody has occasion to get on everybody else’s nerves.  This is the great flaw in humans being.  It is not at all that difficult for us to annoy each other.  We enjoy our individuality …sometimes too much.

That is what makes it so difficult when folks don’t do things the way they think it should be done.  somewhere in our selfish hearts, we complain and turn up our noses, thinking, “That isn’t the way I would have done it.”

SO WHAT????

And while you were pulling a ‘Frank Sinatra,’ doing it, “Your way,” you’re keeping someone else from discovering a gift that would make them a greater contribution to the common purpose of building up the Body for God’s glory.

But, you got the job done.

Okay, so…maybe NEXT time, before you decide that if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself, how about you give someone the space to find their place; to recognize an ounce of their potential and see, first hand, what a little extra grace given can do to remove a spot or wrinkle in the fabric of the Body?

Let’s never forget to give a little extra grace, to see others reach their potential.  We will never know when a little extra grace will be required for us.

It’s Only Well Water…


You’ve heard it said that you never miss your water until the well runs dry.

People say that all the time.  Usually, that phrase is associated with the loss of a good relationship.  And that is true.  Some people don’t seem to appreciate what they HAD until they see how much someone ELSE is enjoying it AFTER they’ve thrown it away.

But what about gifts and talents?  Everyone is given abilities and skills that just seem to come naturally to them.  They are given to us with specific design and purpose for God’s glory.  They also require honing through consistency, diligence and obedience to God’s instruction.

FOR WHO HATH DESPISED THE DAY OF SMALL BEGINNINGS!! (Zechariah 4:10a)

When God calls us to do a thing, sometimes He graciously gives us the big picture.  Then, He instructs us to start on a particular spot.  From that particular position, we can only see our spot…the big picture is no longer anything but a vague recollection. So we begin a good work.

Somewhere in the tedium of the honing process, many of us get distracted by the monotony of the never changing scenery. We begin to complain.  I mean, what does this have to do with accomplishing the big picture?

We work…but we become impatient.  We don’t work as well as we used to with the others on assignment in our little corner of the world. They begin to get irritated with us and we begin to  resent them for it. We get salty.  And then we fester.  And that festering becomes acidic. We begin a subconscious sabotage of the work you had once begun in earnest.  Then, one of two things happen: the others, still working in earnest, ask us to leave that work or we decide that “it’s time to move on,” without being asked.

We figure that there is better work out there…somewhere else.  There is still this sense of purpose in our hearts, but it’s been convoluted.  It’s been tainted and tampered with by our desire to do the will of God “our way.”

Some might say that looks like a prodigal child.  Perhaps…but, if it’s  prodigal behavior, then it’s a prodigal who has not yet “come to himself.”  The problem with that is the pigpen is visible, the way out is not. This is a very critical time of decision making. This is where a heart either becomes opened or hardened.

But, what happens when the heart gets hardened?  We make really faulty decisions.  That’s when we decide to walk away from ministry or try to branch out on our own, apart from the expressed will of God to accomplish that thing that we only have a faint recollection of the “Big Picture.”

That’s when we think God is taking too long and take matters into our own hands, like Sarah using her handmaid to produce a child.. Or, we think our plan is better, like Absalom trying to steal an entire kingdom one person at a time.  Or we just like doing things the way they’ve always done and the new way is just too foreign, like Moses when God told him to speak to a rock. Or, the servant with the one talent who hid it for the ‘greater good.’

Each one of those examples were disastrous. And each negative result could have been avoided.

“But it’s only well water.  Surely there is something better to work with.  Surely God has other resources for me to utilize! I’m sure He would reward me for doing it another way, as long as the job gets done.”

So, off you go to do it ‘another way.’  In the meantime, God has given someone else the assignment that you were meant to fulfill.  And they are FLOURISHING.  And you are getting DRY, searching for another source of water.

My pastor, Dan Willis, has said something very often over the almost 20 years that I’ve known him: “God will NEVER allow His Kingdom or the work of the Kingdom to suffer for your lack of obedience.  And the person He uses to fill in the void you left will take that position higher than anyone could have imagined.”

God honors diligence. God honors consistency. God honors WILLING OBEDIENCE. Don’t be discouraged because things don’t move at a pace that pleases YOU. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ…”

God has a plan for your life, your gifts, your abilities, that will exceed even YOUR imagination. Stay at that well, my friend, and take pleasure in your assignment.  God may use you and that little well to water nations.

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