Purposeful Faith

Category - relationships

How to Transform Ugly to Lovely

Death and life are in the power of the tongue Proverbs 18:21

Post By: Katie M. Reid

Last week my husband and I directed Vacation Bible School (VBS) for our church. The theme was “Ocean Commotion” and there was a lot of commotion in our home as we prepared for this program. I decided to wear my loud LuLaRoe leggings—yellow, turquoise, brown, and orange splattered, a bold flowing top, and my feather earrings to help support the theme.

There was so much to do to prepare for opening night of VBS. When I feel stressed, I bark out orders to the family, expecting them to hop-to and meet my demands. It isn’t pretty.

As I walked down our hallway, I informed Sunshine-headed son that he better start emptying the dishwasher. Usually this reminder is met with resistance and sighing but this time was different.

“You look beautiful, Mom!” my son declared with enthusiasm.

I had wondered if my outfit was a bit much, but my son’s unexpected compliment reassured me that I had made the right wardrobe selection. I smiled and my countenance lifted.

Later on, as we were frantically getting ready to head to the church to decorate for VBS, I told my daughter to go get her toddler brother’s shoes on so we could get out the door and “Hurry up, we need to leave soon!”

“Mom, I love your outfit. You look beautiful!” she cooed.

Once again I was stopped in my tracks. Darling daughter’s words of affirmation gave me a burst of joy. Her adoration transformed my frustrated tone, if but momentarily, as I held my head a little higher.

My kids were being so nice to me when I was being bossy.

Then I heard my tween daughter whisper to my husband, “When Mom is in a bad mood, we decided to give her a compliment and tell her that she looks beautiful.”

“Hey, I heard that! ” I called out from the bathroom.

So, that’s why they were bathing me with compliments. They were trying to transform my irritation and see if that would help me get off their backs about cleaning and doing chores.

It was working.

They turned ugly to lovely by responding in love to my meanness. Okay, they were being a bit manipulative and trying to get out of work, but their experimental tactic was quite genius.

With each compliment, I felt uplifted. My demeanor changed as they met my demands with a verbal blessing.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed by all there was to get done, I was overwhelmed with gratitude that they were being so nice. They heaped burning coals of love upon my head as they issued the unexpected.

My kids social experiment convicted me of my negativity and also inspired me to try it out.

What if I respond kindly to others when they are mean instead of pouting about it?

What if I issue grace instead of offense when I get my feelings hurt?

What if I compliment those I’m frustrated with instead of complaining to their face
(or behind their back)?

Could it be that we can transform ugly to lovely by reminding others of the beauty we see in them?

Let’s give it a try.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” -Proverbs 18:21

Dear God:

Thank You for saving us from sin. Thank You for dying on the cross and then rising again, that we might live for Your purposes, now and in the life to come. Thank You for taking what is broken and making it beautiful. Thank You for transforming our ugly into lovely. Forgive us for hurting others with careless words. Help us to reflect Your unconditional love with the way we respond to others. May we care for others with the strength You provide, by the leading of Your Spirit, and out of our commitment to doing things Your way—even when it’s hard. Thank You for Your Word and that we can be transformed by it. Give us a desire to know and apply Your Truth, that we might truly live—radiant and free.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Author & Speaker Katie M. Reid image by Adopting Nations

Katie M. Reid is a tightly wound woman, of the recovering perfectionist variety, who fumbles to receive and extend grace in everyday moments. She delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in ministry. Through her writing, singing, speaking and photography Katie encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life.

Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com and on Twitter and Facebook.

 

When Someone Really Offends You

Offends

Someone said some things that made me question some things – about myself.

Things that made me wonder:

Do I shine Christ well?
Do I really have anything important to say?
Does God’s mission for me count?

Their words unloaded doubt, fresh pallets of discouragement set directly on my heart- the weight of which seemed nearly unbearable.

Every part of me wanted to yell back at them, “Be nice! Don’t you know I am fragile.” 
“I just poured out my heart to you – and you’re now stomping on it?”
“How dare you? You are mean.”

But, grown people don’t normally talk this way. So, I didn’t.

What I did say, or rather hear from the Word of God was this question (which is probably a million times more impactful than my original response):  Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? Gal. 1:10

This verse plays out to us, hurt ones, in layman’s terms much like this:

– Dear child, others may try do define you, but I have made you.
– Dear child, you may not be good enough for them, but I have created you good enough for me.
– Dear child, I don’t rule according to man’s opinions, I rule according to my truth.
– Dear child, I am looking for those who follow at all costs, not those bending and breaking to man’s needs.
– Dear child, if I led you, you can’t be led wrong.
– Dear child, if you listen, you will hear my voice and can walk assured of my path.
– Dear child, if I am for you, no one can be against you.
– Dear child, if you do something with me, no grain or crumb expended is a waste.
– Dear child, take a pause, for I have told you not to seek applause.
– Dear child, you do not know their internal battle; perhaps you are the peace to their war.
– Dear child, people speak from the depravity of flesh but I speak from the wellspring of life.

When you hear these kinds of things from God, you look at God and say, “Ok. You know best.”

And somehow, maybe even unknowingly, you set that person free in your mind, figuring, in them, God is probably doing some work. You see them flying smaller and smaller in the distance and you trust that God’s will is being done – in your life and theirs.  And maybe, just maybe, you even let it sneak out – a little smile.

One that all can see as you walk. One that shows that, with God, you are just a tad bit more at peace, full and taken care of than you ever could have been without him.

Suddenly, you don’t feel so bad anymore. For you know, that this small progress is what faith is made of and that small scales up a mountain, before long, land you at the top – where you can see everything with clarity.

So you trust God, and step up by faith – knowing that, one day, you will stand on the mountaintop of eternity, where all things culminate – and where real life begins. So, until then, you stay firm in your pursuit of what matters and carry on fighting and climbing, listening and returning, hoping and trusting – until that one day comes where you find yourself, home.

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Be the Light By Showing Up (Link-up)

A season of lit trees and celebration was closing and I heard excited talk about picking your “one word” for the New Year. Piqued by curiosity, I researched and loved the idea of such specific focus instead of forgotten resolutions, unrealistic expectations and lists.

It seemed doable. Everyone was jumping in. So I followed suit and picked a word God had laid on my heart for months: see.

I thought about the ways I would explore the opposition between the seen and unseen in scripture and committed to searching for God’s light in the everyday. Driven by a desire to reawaken the wonder and the awe of his creation, I took time to notice things I’d often overlooked.

The crisp skyline of winter against the white, barren landscape. A solitary tulip peeking out from the frozen ground during the first glimpses of spring.

It was beautiful. I saw God’s grace in new, unexpected ways. But then another winter swept in and God seemed to hide himself behind a veil.

Clamoring for the peace of his presence, I prayed he would reveal himself.

Where are you, God? Show me your glory. Let me know you are here.

I perused the internet and found stories of terror and finger pointing. Then other news much closer to home hit.

Will you continue reading with us? Today the #RaRaLinkup is being hosted over at Abby McDonald’s place. Click this link to join us…

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Are you Ashamed of the Gospel?

Are you Ashamed of the Gospel?

4-years old and on fire for God, who can say that isn’t a great thing?
It’s all find and dandy until your son starts to push the small parameters of your own faith.
Then things start getting sticky.

Just yesterday, although this certainly is not the first time, he ran up to me saying, “See those kids playing over there? I am going to ask them if they know God. Is that ok mommy?”

He loves to do this. He tells them about God. About Jesus. About the bible (like I said, he loves God).

Shouldn’t I be happy?

Yet, my first reaction is often:
Their mom is going to hate me.
My son is going to get hurt one day.
I am going to feel embarrassed.

Part of me wants to protect him from feeling alone and cornered for what he believes.
“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 2 Tim. 3:12

Part of me thinks that I must protect his faith and his feelings, like a mother bird guards a nest.
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. 1 Cor. 16:13

Part of me wants to protect myself from how his words and Christianity make me feel.
If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” Mk. 8:38

But this kid and my “self”, don’t even belong to me,they belong to God,
so how can I let them rule me?

God is the only one in control
and it is his Word and his will that will rule, reign and refine forever.

My efforts are fruitless; his Word is fruitful.

I don’t want my heart boiling with the fire of God
while my actions are cool with the complacency of social correctness.

I don’t think that is cool with God.

So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–
I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Rev. 3:16

How can God’s Word slice and dice broken hearts
into powerful, new and free creations 

when we tremble over the cutting process?

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Mk. 16:15

Perhaps, God is calling us to see the world, much through the same eyes of my 4-year old.
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 18:3

Through eyes that see:

A world needing the joy and love that he knows.
Friends who we want to meet in heaven.
People in need of Jesus.

My son doesn’t seem to care too much about the smiles, the cordial greetings or the good gossip spoken over him, but simply the heart that stands before him.

He seems to have not been jaded yet.

Somewhere along the way though, I have.

I have let people’s opinions become as valuable as gold,
while letting God’s standard go beneath the fold.

Have you?

Perhaps instead, we refine our first thoughts to ask, “Do they know Jesus?”

Of course, it may not be the first question we ask, but perhaps now we will recognize it as their first need. Then we can ask ourself, “How might I first speak Jesus into their heart?”

To internalize this question is to verbalize life-defining words that endure the test of time. 

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Linking with Holley Gerth and Jennifer Dukes Lee.

Are you a blogger, don’t miss yesterday’s #RaRalinkup.

Following Jesus to Selflessness

Following Jesus

She talked and talked and talked.
I listened and listened and listened.
While my mouth sat still, hers moved a hundred miles a minute.

Would I ever get a chance to speak?
Will she ever ask me about me?

Some people can really talk about themselves – a lot!

As my mind spinned a web of annoyance, God came to undo it with his Spirit. He nudged me to truth.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Jo. 14:26

Bring to remembrance. When we remember what Jesus has said to us, done for us and given to us, we suddenly remember what is really important.

Things like: so the last will be first, and the first will be last. Mt. 20:16

Remembering centers our soul on the crucified-and-risen one.

The man who never demanded to be fully known.
The man who never took the road of delight, entertainment or self-pursuit.
The man who surrendered his whole life to the will of his Father.
The man who was treated unjustly, unfairly and unbelievably by so many.

But did Jesus ever stop pursuing, reaching and caring?

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. Jo. 6:38

No, he knew who he served.

But, do we know?

Every moment is an opportunity to serve up love
and every pain point is an opportunity to reach beyond ourselves.

What holds us back? Feelings?

Truthfully, Jesus may have felt out of control, used or taken advantage of too.

Yet for Jesus, feelings, control and personal justice were never his greatest cause – love was.

And, it should be my greatest cause too.

Jesus laid down his crown of full control, so he could care for the Father’s greatest creation – us.

Love links arms and drops demands.
Love heals the broken and mends their aches.
Love reaches out when it’s not easy.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. Jo. 15:3

As I sat critiquing my friend, God spoke love over self, he whispered: “So what Kelly? Do you follow me? Kelly, go deeper on her behalf.”

I followed. With a gently rebuked and softened heart, and said, “Wow, you have been going through so much. I can only imagine how you feel.”

This sentence opened the floodgates to reveal deep pain, hurt and trials.  She needed this moment. She craved this moment. It was a moment of healing ministry that God had set aside.

I am so glad I listened.

What if I had chosen apathy instead of empathy?
I would have missed this opportunity.

When we choose to follow Jesus, rather than our annoyances, all roads lead back to love.

It doesn’t matter if our mind protests, because Christ’s love can still work if we are just ready to drop our signs of injustice.

We simply set down our preconceived notions, we stop going through the motions and we watch him work.

We may lose all control, but it doesn’t matter because Jesus Christ has all control anyway.  Following him is finding yourself under the control of the only one who really can control all things for good.

I want to reside there.

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Today, I am linking with #LiveFreeThursday, Five Minute Friday (I admit, spent more than 5-minutes. Sorry!) and #DanceWithJesus.

Dealing with an Annoying Person

Dealing with an Annoying Person

I had friend; she was sweet, beautiful and helpful, but sometimes, she had a way of getting under my skin. Normally, I just shoved my irritation through the door of my heart and locked it there with a key. After all, sometimes it feels easier not to deal with things.

I remember one specific day – she asked me to borrow a coat. But, as I handed it to her, she looked at it with disdain. I knew her. I knew she had her eye on one specific coat in my closet. I knew her mind was set, even though she put me through a song and dance trying on each one – I knew where this charade was headed.

In that moment, I wanted to say, “Wear the coat I gave you. I am wearing this one.”  I wanted to send a message that I knew what she was up to. I wanted her to see that her approach was wrong.

But, as I evaluated how to deliver this message, the quiet whisper of my heart said, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” Lev. 19:18

God’s truth spoke to my heart saying, “Others may annoy you, but it doesn’t matter what they do, it matters what I tell you to do. What matters is – love.”

We headed out. She, wearing the beautiful coat – I, wearing the old one.

As I returned from dropping her off at her house, I recounted all her offenses against me. My irritation levels were on high alert in general, so you can only imagine my frustration when I arrived at the front door, to find it locked and dead-bolted, with absolutely no way in.

Try as I may, this house was impenetrable – and my heart felt imbittered.

But, as I shoved my hand into my old not-so-nice coat, the coat, I felt something; it was just what I needed- a bobby pin – one she has left in my pocket while trying my coat on.

It was this bobby pin that allowed me to pry a screen off a window, so I could climb in to unlock my front door.

In that moment, my whole perspective shifted. I found the key to unlock both my resentful heart – and my front door. 

It unlocked all the small annoyances.
The truth is, the hurting person is hurt. They need love.

It unlocked the power of seeing over small offenses.
God rewards a heart that forgives, that shows mercy and that looks beyond offenses. He rewards a heart that sees a heart.

It unlocked the power of sacrificial love.
True love means we put another before our self. When we look past the exterior, God wows us with the interior of the one who stands before us.

It unlocked my mind from anger and resentment.
When we open the door of our hurts to the great God who understands hurts, all we can do is run into his open arms to receive forgiveness. Then, we can start seeing the ministry work the Lord has set before us to do in the heart of another.

It unlocked a new reality; true love costs something.
Love means we lay down what we have, so we can see how God wills us to reach the other. Sometimes it may cost us a coat, sometimes our time, but no matter, we lay it down in love.

We are all fallen, hurt and imperfect, but as we see past these things, our well-maintained fortresses are penetrated, our walls are taken down and true relationships are forged.

Truly, love surpasses locked doors. It opens up a whole new world.

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The Best Response You Could Ever Have

The best response

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I walk in to see my son’s underwear, pants and toys stuffed into the toilet.  I go off.
I take personally the advice my husband’s offering. I act irritated.
I am late to my son’s school. I get anxious.
I get in the slow checkout lane at the grocery store. I tap my foot with impatience.
I get stuck on a customer service call, it takes forever and I get nothing done. I snap at them.
I talk with a family member who has issues. I immediately respond with advice.
I hear a person talk about their problems and pains. I jump in to rescue.
I listen to a friend talk. I cut them off.

The common denominator? I just can’t wait. In a flash, I respond.

But, what if, I changed my course of action?

What if I decided to have a “reaction of inaction” instead of a “reaction of dissatisfaction”?

Might things change?

Would a simple one second wait change my fate?
Might I evaluate and not retaliate?
Could I see more and not end up being one I abhor?

When we take a second to wait, we actually set our paths straight.
We not only delay our reaction, but we delay our heart from going the wrong way.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Prov. 3:5-6)

I don’t have to react based on my understanding, I can grab hold of a “reaction of inaction” so that in every moment, I seek to trust the Lord. I don’t have respond to a stimuli, but only to the will of God.

God offers me freedom from my circumstances.

If I seek him, he will be faithful to guide me.

Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. (Is. 30:18)

Even more, what would happen if I considered that the Lord is ready to be gracious to me in these tense moments?
Would that change my response?
My perspective?

Because He is waiting to be gracious. He is waiting to show mercy. Imagine that – in our tense, overwhelming and frustrating moments, he just waits to see how he can pour out on us.

I don’t want to miss that. Do you?

Our “reaction of dissatisfaction” robs us of joy, but through a “reaction of inaction” we have the opportunity to seize joy.

Inaction for one simple second might entirely change the course of our relationships. We don’t have to be the wild responder; because we can now be the grace-filled responder.

I want to invest and not divest in my relationships. Don’t you?
I want to practice myself in the wait.
I know God will be, as he always has been, faithful to me.
And, he will be to you too.

Let’s trust him as we wait. We can choose the one response that will leave us blessed instead of feeling stressed.

The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. (Lam. 3:25)

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