Uncovering the beauty

Pr. 21:9:  “Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”  Pr. 21:19:  “Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.”

The truth is that it’s better to dwell in those places than with anyone that’s angry and contentious (likely to cause an argument).  Relationships are hard enough without having someone always looking for a fight.

 

muddycoupleI was walking in the woods behind our house today and found this little figurine.  I couldn’t believe how applicable it was to real life.  Sometimes our relationships can resemble this…soiled, muddy, polluted, and defiled.  During those times, it can be hard to see through the muck to even imagine something that could possibly look better.

 

couplewipedoff

 

But I chose to wipe off the figurine, and do you see what I saw?  They were still holding hands.  With just a bit of effort, I was able to uncover the fact, that underneath it all, they were still connected.  Do you believe that’s true for our relationships?  I do.  Underneath all the mess, there are 2 people that were once connected, and with just a bit of effort, the fact that there is still a connection becomes visible.

 

 

allcleanedupInspired by what I saw, I took the figurine inside and cleansed it with some soap and water, and a bit of bleach.  The cleansing revealed a couple with a few scars, but look at their faces.  They look happy and content again…renewed and ready for a new life.

 

 

 

Sometimes, deciding to work diligently to wipe off all the offenses and grime to uncover a renewed relationship can be rough and it can definitely sting.  (Just as if being cleansed with bleach)  But it’s so worth it.  Those scars just make us stronger, and more able to testify to the Lord’s mercy and miracles.  Just like this figurine, there can be new life waiting underneath; we just have to be willing to uncover it.

I couldn’t tell you how long this figurine was buried in the mud.  It was pretty deep in there, and even under some other trash.  But that just proves that no matter how long our relationships have been in the mire, with just a bit of interest and care something beautiful can be revealed.

And the most beautiful part for us is that God is faithful to stand with us during the process.

Get out that scrub brush!

jamie

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Stop the flow while there’s time

Pr. 17:14:  “The beginning of strife is like releasing water; therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.”

Can anyone attest to the truth of this!?

22 years ago today, my best friend died in a car wreck.  It was one of the most devastating days of my life.  It wasn’t just because she was gone.  Adding to that grief was the fact that at the time that she died, we had been fighting for several weeks.  Now she was gone and I’d never get a chance to change that fact.

The moment I found out she was gone, none of the issues we’d been fighting about mattered.  All I wanted was her.  I wanted to go back and tell her I was sorry, that it wasn’t really important, and hug her tight.  The fact that I couldn’t, the fact that I had been so stubborn and unforgiving, was something I would have to work through for a long time.

My sage advice today is to let it go.  If, in the next moment, the person you’re striving with was gone, would it really matter?  Before it gets worse, choose to put a stop to it.  You never know if you’ll get another moment to show love.

Experienced,

jamie

 

The day after Valentine’s Day…

Pr. 15:25:  “The Lord will destroy the house of the proud, but He will establish the boundary of the widow.”

It’s the day after Valentines Day and love is still important.  1 Peter 4:8-9 tells us, “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”  Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.”

1 John 4:7 encourages us, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”

We are told to have sincere, heartfelt love for one another.  This is the kind of love that forgives, overlooks faults, and finds the good in others.  This is the kind of love God has for us.

So often we want this kind of love from others, but struggle or refuse to show this kind of love in return.  Although, we understand that we are not perfect and in need of forgiveness, and we often expect others to be perfect at all times.

We are told to be hospitable to one another without grumbling.  That is something that happens when our eyes are looking outward and not inward.  When we are truly able to love, forgive, understand, and pardon, hospitality comes much more easily.

Remembering that love is of God, we cannot afford to be too proud to show love.  This proverb says the Lord destroys the house of the proud.  Not only that, but He will establish those who are weak.  In God’s eyes, the weak are more desirable than the proud.

It is not weakness to show love.  It takes strong character to love someone the way we are told to love here.  It takes a lot of faith in God’s plan to truly forgive the sins and mistakes of those we love.  It takes humility to overlook faults and see what is good.  It takes humility and trust to believe that loving others God’s way is best.

So, on this day that is not ‘technically’ about love, we can determine in our hearts to show love the right way; to carry on loving those around us with God’s love, and to continue it day after day after day, until the Lord returns.

We don’t have to do this in our own strength.  We can call upon the God who is love for all the pointers we need.  Talk about a support system.

So, happy day after!  May the Lord who loves you, strengthen you this day as you trust Him enough to truly love His way.

My brothers and sisters, I love you all. 

jamie

Choose not to be the kindling

Pr. 26:21:  “As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife.”

My husband has been working on mastering the art of fire making.  He now only technically needs 1 stick to start a fire.  From there we only have to add more wood to turn it into an entire campfire.  If we didn’t douse the fire with water afterwards, it could spread and grow even larger.

Words can be the same.  Sometimes it only takes 1 or 2 words to kindle strife.  That strife then has the potential to grow larger and larger.

As the wood that ignites the fire, we can be contentious, provoking others by arousing and igniting anger and conflict.  Conversely, we can take preventative measures when speaking, possibly even quenching the fires already beginning to catch their lives ablaze, by allowing rivers of living water to flow out of our hearts.

When we believe in Jesus, He fills us with Living Water, and He said those waters will flow from our hearts.  (Luke 7:38)

We certainly have the option of holding that back from others, kindling strife through harshness, unforgiveness, meanness, disdain, indifference, apathy, impatience, intolerance, and blame.            (Sorry, I was on a roll)

Or we could, instead, recognize the thirst in others around us, and choose to pour forth the living water through forgiveness, compassion, empathy, grace, mercy, and understanding.

Remembering that first and foremost, God is love, we can realize that we are all broken and imperfect, and offer His love to those around us.  Those words we speak are either kindling a fire of conflict and strife, or refreshing and encouraging a thirsty soul.

Before speaking, we need to think ahead, and do our part to prevent strife.  Everyone could use a refreshing douse of living water to extinguish the fires and quench their thirsty soul.

Pretty thirsty myself,

jamie

Christmas with an offended brother

Pr. 18:19:  “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.”

During this season of family gatherings, this verse stands out.  Not everyone’s families get together in happy, peaceful, harmonious ways.  There are times when contentions, offenses, and pain are also present.  Sometimes it is an unspoken expectation that during a holiday the contention will cease, and so when it doesn’t, it can hurt even more than usual.

Sadly, there are some people for whom forgiveness never seems to be an option.  We cannot speak for them; however, we can decide for ourselves how we will respond.  If there are contentions in your family, I am sorry.  You may not be met with friendliness or the opportunity to move in and make it all go away.  So, what can you do?

Continue to pray.  Continue to walk in love.  Continue to walk with integrity, being the person you claim to be in Christ.  Continue to trust in the Lord and His faithfulness in your life and the lives of those with whom the contentions exist.

Consider and hear me, O Lord my God; enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed against him”; lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.  But I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.  Ps. 13

David wrote this Psalm when it seems he was experiencing similar emotions with those who would not forgive and relent.

We have the Lord and Savior on our side.  We have the One who shows Himself strong for us.  We have the one who keeps us safe when our trust is in Him.

It is hard when others do not like us nor will offer forgiveness; however, Jesus said that the servant is not greater than his Master.  The world hated Jesus before it hated us, and if they persecuted Him, they will also persecute us.  (John 15:18)  Jesus knows about rejection, hatred, contention, and betrayal.  He’s been there.  He is able to offer aid to us if that is the case in our lives, as well.

We cannot force others to forgive or love us, but we can walk in the knowledge that we have a High Priest who will comfort us and offer mercy.  He is always on our side.

If you happen to be the one who has not been forgiving or relenting, perhaps this is the Christmas when you can offer that gift to someone as imperfect as you.  Everyone needs forgiveness, which is why Jesus came as our Savior.

Whatever the case, I pray that the Comforter will be able to offer you peace this Christmas season.  The Lord is faithful and does not allow the righteous soul to famish.  If you allow it, He will give you all that you need.

Praying for you,

jamie