"Be the one who nurtures and builds. Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart; one who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them." ~ Marvin J. Ashton
I have to admit that lately I have been more of a tearer-downer than a builder-upper. Today was one of those days! I must confess that the one I tore down was my own beautiful, precious daughter. Life has been a little stressful around our house lately and I haven’t handled it well. While there are plenty of things that I should be rejoicing over (such as our house selling within 3 days of being listed) I have allowed the stress (of moving) get the best of me. I, in turn, have taken it out on the ones whom I hold dear. I have had to apologize a lot, and I mean A LOT! Saying I am sorry doesn’t right the wrong, erase the words, or completely heal the hurts but it does humble you. I believe as a parent, a spouse or a friend, we have to be the one willing to say “I’m sorry”.
The flip-side of that coin is that I need to be the one willing to forgive when someone apologizes to me. I need to be willing to say “You’re forgiven." “I’m Sorry” and “You’re forgiven” are 2, two-word phrases that could change someone’s life. Those two little words may be the cornerstone it takes to start strengthening or rebuilding a relationship.
I would like for you to join me and make an end of the year resolution. Let’s be the person Marvin J. Ashton wrote about. BE the ONE who nurtures and builds. BE the ONE who has an understanding and a forgiving heart. LOOK for the best in people and ALWAYS leave people better than you found them.
Over the past few years, I have been drawn to the music of Matthew West. His lyrics speak to my heart, and he touches on issues that many people will not even get near. Many of his songs are based on stories that he hears from his listeners. He just released a new album titled “Into the Light.” On our way to get Kaley from ballet last week, I plugged my phone into Kalon’s truck to be able to listen to all the songs on the album. As soon as “Hello, My Name Is” came on, I knew it was going to be my new favorite song. It speaks so much truth and connects to everything that has been on my heart to communicate to all of you beautiful ladies over the last three years. This song was based on the story of a young man named Jordan who was caught up in a web of addiction. When he wrote to Matthew West, he said he used to identify himself as a drug addict. He had been a star athlete in high school and college, but then he got injured. He got hooked on prescription pain medication. His life spiraled downward quickly to the point that he was kicked out of college and lost his scholarships for sports. He got involved with the Teen Challenge Recovery Program where he met Christ. He went back to school and earned his master’s degree from the same college that kicked him out. He is a teacher and a coach now. He finished telling Matthew West his story by saying “My name is Jordan, and I am a child of the one true king.”
This story could be told by many of us based on the individual web of circumstances we found ourselves tangled in during the course of our lives. I pray that we would all end by stating who we really are “Daughters of the One True King.” Below are the lyrics Matthew wrote based on Jordan’s story.
Hello, my name is regret
I’m pretty sure we have met
Every single day of your life
I’m the whisper inside
That won’t let you forget
Hello, my name is defeat
I know you recognize me
Just when you think you can win
I’ll drag you right back down again
‘Til you’ve lost all belief
These are the voices, these are the lies
And I have believed them, for the very last time
Hello, my name is child of the one true King
I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed, and I have been set free
“Amazing Grace” is the song I sing
Hello, my name is child of the one true King
I am no longer defined
By all the wreckage behind
The one who makes all things new
Has proven it’s true
Just take a look at my life
What love the Father has lavished upon us
That we should be called His children
I am a child of the one true King
Those of you who know me well know why this song speaks so much to me. We have all felt the burden of REGRET and DEFEAT. Matthew personified those words in the song in a way that shows what we give them the power to do. It’s the whisper that tries to tell us that we will never rise above our past that we will never ever amount to anything. It is a battle that we each fight, just as I relayed the battle that Kelley family is facing in last week’s blog. Those are lies….they are not TRUTH…..HIS TRUTH. We all have a choice. We can continue to get our identity from our past and our struggles or we can get our identity from Him. Do we still mess up??? Yes, but that is where grace and mercy comes in. Do we extend it to ourselves and keep walking or do we wallow back in the muck and mire of our past??? Admit to Father that you were wrong and then walk in freedom. Claim that you are a Saint who made a mistake. A saint is a holy one….one who is set apart. That is who you are.
Around the same time that I heard this song, I also read a post from Tim Chalas, the youth pastor at Grace Life Fellowship in Baton Rouge. The senior pastor, Frank Friedmann, posted this on his Facebook page. Tim zeroed in on the problem we have with getting truth to come into our minds.
It is often said, "I know it in my mind, but I have got to get it to my heart."
According to that great modern day theologian Tim Chalas, that is not true. It is the wrong battle and that is why so few people win that battle. The truth is that God has already placed life, joy, peace, righteousness, goodness, love, mercy etc... IN MY HEART (Cf. Ezek 36, Jer 31)... The real issue is getting it from my heart to my mind. The battleground in the New Covenant economy is the mind. That is where the enemy seeks to defeat us, by placing thoughts in our minds that are contrary to truth. That is why the exhortations of the New Testament are ALWAYS to set the mind, fix the mind, renew the mind... NEVER to fix the heart, or set the heart. The key to victorious living in a New Covenant economy is NOT getting truth from our mind to our heart, but getting truth from our heart to our mind. Phil. 4 says to think on the things that are good, lovely, true, etc... and the God of peace shall be with you. The only way to win a battle is to fight the right battle...
What more can I say after that??? We need to fight the right battle. On those days when you feel too weak to fight, call on your sisters in Christ who love all of you so much!!
Fighting along with you,
Mercy and Grace in the Midst of the Storm
I have been pondering for weeks now what to write about for a follow-up to the session Claire and I lead on Mercy and Grace. Shortly after that SHE event, our family was delivered some life changing news. Henry, the four year old nephew of my brother in law, Joe, and my sister, Michelle, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He underwent surgery almost immediately, and surgeons were able to remove 50% of the tumor. No more treatment will be done at this time, and Henry is currently under hospice care. When you hear news like this your mind begins to buzz with millions of questions and emotions. Whatever emotions or questions you may be asking as you read this; I have already felt or asked over the last month. On Halloween, the local news station in Georgia did a story on Henry. I will link it for you to watch, but be prepared, you WILL need tissues.
As I watched the video, I was overcome once again with a deluge of emotions. Yet, as I reflected back on it today, I see lessons that Father can teach all of us. When Claire and I lead our session, we never said that extending grace and mercy to yourself and others would ever be easy. It is a struggle and a battle. He wants us to lean on Him and His strength for EVERY NEED. The Kelley family is doing that right now. They are in the midst of leaning on Father to meet their every need right now. They are not only doing that, but they are proclaiming the HOPE that can only be found in Jesus during this time. The fact that the news station did not edit Jessie’s words about her faith shows that Henry does have a story to tell. Is this the story Ian and Jessie dreamed their son would tell?? Of course not, but they are just following Father’s hand as He leads them through their story. "We believe that Jesus's heart is for us, and for Henry, and for healing and restoration," Jessica said. "We may not see that on this side of glory. We'll still be with him in a short amount of time, forever."
In one of the most poignant parts of the video, Jessie described a recent experience with Henry.
"We were throwing pennies in the pond and I said 'You're supposed to make a wish before you throw the penny in the pond. What do you wish for? If you could do anything in the world right now, what would it be?' And he said, 'This.' And it was the most amazing lesson to me to just enjoy the moment with him, that there is joy and peace because right now, my little boy is throwing pennies in the pond and we can smile and we can cherish that to a new level."
Children can teach us so much. They see the world in such a different way than we do. Sometimes, we just need to sit back and take a look around us and be thankful for the situation we are in right at that moment. I did that recently as I sat with some friends and thought back to when I first got involved with Total Woman U. It was amazing to sit back and see how Father’s hand had guided me and lead me to where He has me today. That road was not smooth and straight…it was bumpy and rough and lead me through some tough times, but without them, I would not be where I am today.
Henry’s situation is not fun nor is it something any of us would want our children to go through. I just know that when these kinds of tragedies rock our world, there is someone who can keep us from falling. Father holds us up in such an amazing way and makes Himself known to all those around us. Jessie, Ian, Henry, and Miri Kelley are allowing Jesus to shine through them wherever they go. Do they have rough days?? YOU BET THEY DO!! Please pray for them over these next few months. Continue to pray for a miracle. Our Father can do amazing things. Pray for peace in the midst of this storm and for comfort.
I am praying for all of you that Father can give you His perspective in the midst of your circumstances. Know that ALL of the ladies on the TWU team love you and pray for you. Next time, I will be reflecting on a song by Matthew West on our perspective.
I love you!
http://www.11alive.com/news/article/262491/3/Henrys-Last-Holidays Story Link
Have you ever been in a really tough situation? Have you been in a really tough situation and surprised yourself with how you handled it?
We have had several conversations with many of you and we know that is the case! Many of you have situations in your past and some of you are going through situations now that have forced you to be strong. This quote says "...until the only choice you have" is being strong. BUT, we all have a choice. We can cower in fear, hide in embarrassment, avoid in denial, or any number of other responses. However, when we allow God to take control of the situation, when we ask Him DAILY to guide our steps and help us control our emotions, I believe we will be left with the courage to be strong no matter what. I believe it will end up being our only choice.
I do not wish upon you any tough situation, but if you encounter one, I pray your response is one of strength based on Who is carrying you through it!
Do you have a dream? Is it a "little" dream? Is it a "big" dream? Why is it a dream of yours? What do you hope to accomplish through this dream?
Purpose behind a dream gives it life. Purpose brings reality to a dream. If you want to achieve something, if you want to be someone, make sure you understand WHY.
Look back at your strengths and skills tests from the event. See if you can attach a purpose behind some of them. If your strength is communication and a skill is writing, but you don't really know how to develop that strength and skill, put some purpose behind them. Maybe you have a specific message of encouragement you want to communicate to women who have lost someone. Maybe you want to communicate a method of decorating on a budget to help those less fortunate feel they are living in their dream home. Maybe you want to communicate instruction to younger girls about staying strong in their convictions within relationships. Maybe you want to inspire women to become all God created them to be. :) Whatever the purpose, if you have one, you are way more likely to step out of your comfort zone and set out to achieve the impossible.
I pray you become a believer in your own strengths and skills, and I pray you seek the Lord's guidance in using them to make manifest the glory of God that is within you!
How does it make you feel when you find out someone was talking about you behind your back. What if I said they were talking about some wonderful aspect about your character? Or about your ability to bring out the best in others? Or about the way they can see Jesus in you when you are kind to strangers? It's not always a bad thing to talk about others behind their backs - just make your words those that will build up and not tear down. Learn to be an encourager. It doesn't always come naturally, but what a difference encouraging words can make. See if you can find ways to talk about the strengths of others even if they will never know we were talking about them. Complete, don't Compete! Complete your friendships by genuinely building up your friends - don't compete with them by tearing them down or allowing others to do so. We all have different strengths, skills, talents, and gifts - let's celebrate those differences and empower our friends.
I pray that you would find ways to bring glory to God when you honor your friends by building them up both while you are with them and when they are not around!
You are beautiful - you are BECOMING!
Thank you for being you!
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