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Are You the Blade that Shapes OR Shatters?

double-edged-sword2Recently, I was made privy to a comment about me that wasn’t so nice.  The blade of hurt was sharpened with the knowledge the words were spoken by someone I care about. Certainly, I am guilty of many things, but laziness is not one of them and for someone to believe it to be true (and then to share with others) were piercing, knife-like words.

I profess to be OCD, an over-achiever, addict of many things (both good and bad) and tend to offer an extreme amount of time to service projects that have eternal purpose. I don’t apologize because there is no doubt in my mind that the challenges I face on my current path are being forged by God to fulfill His ultimate plan for my life.

This year, my holiday season has been consecrated to a desire to help others in need. There are times I’ve opted to give paid jobs to others so I could give my attention to other purposeful and unpaid projects. In the spirit of giving, there are times I’ve taken a moment to breathe because I needed time to energize, regroup and rest.

You may be asking what the purpose of this post is.

It’s a message about the words we speak and share with others. You may believe you know a person; but do you really? Do you know the inflicted struggles, motive or battle God has placed before them to perfect His eternal purpose within them?

We need to recognize we are not the judge and jury of the intentions and endeavors of others, even though we deem ourselves best suited for this God ordained position. Only God has the ability to see the heart of mankind and He does it with divine knowledge of our thoughts and His purposed intentions. He hears our heartfelt cries as we desire and long to be obedient to His call even we seem to fail Him and others.

I encourage you to be the spiritual blade of God that shapes and uplifts fellow friends and loved ones. It’s done through the power of prayer, not the power of a sharp tongue. God is forever working within to do his good work to shape and sculpt us according to His perfect plan.

There are many personal battles that rage within us: addiction issues, seasons of loneliness, grief from loss or spiritual emptiness.  The ways God chooses to shape someones life into His image to fulfill His purpose isn’t for us to question, judge or debate.

God shares this with us:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9

We are all instruments God uses to guide and support each other in this journey we call life. God never intended for us to sharpen and wield our ‘I know what’s best for you’ blade into the life of others.

Don’t be the blade that shatters the spirit of others because you have a tongue that can’t be tamed. Refrain from spewing forth words that pierce and divide the soul of another. Instead, strive to be the blade that shapes the life of others with words of kindness and love.

“Let the words of my mouth…be acceptable in your sight, O Lord.” Psalms 19:4

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The Beauty of Pain: It Turns Us to Love

quote-god-did-not-rescue-me-out-of-the-pain-he-rescued-me-through-the-pain-tullian-tchividjian-128-47-56
I listened to a play list of my favorite songs today.  Each song represented a season in my life. Some brought memories of reclaimed joy while others resonated with lyrics that held my emotions hostage to some of my deepest moments of pain.

Letting go of what no longer supports a healthy lifestyle or relationship can be painful. It may be a failed marriage, death of someone deeply loved, feelings of emotional abandonment or quitting an addiction. There are a plethora of reasons and life events that torment our body, soul and mind.

When we fail to seek the divine consult of God and pursue our own desires, there will be consequences. Make no mistake, our heavenly Father loves us deeply, but the outcome of our success requires obedience to HIS will and planned purpose for our life.

If you are like me, you will screw up and it will be a hot mess. But, there is beauty to be found in our pain. How can that be?

God stands ready at any given time to turn our pain into HIS love and take our ashes and replace them with garments of joy. Isn’t that so like God?

And so, as tears filled my eyes in remembrance of the painful times in my life, I remembered that I am a child of an Almighty God who will forever point my pain in the direction of HIS love. It is my heartache coupled with HIS unconditional love that has shaped me into the person I am today.

We all experience physical, emotional pain and challenges of life. The beauty behind that pain is Jesus. He can transform it into joy and love if we allow Him to actively engage in our heartbreaks, hurts, losses and grief.

There is beauty in pain when we give it all to Jesus! It brings to mind the lyrics of an Evie song:

Are you tired of chasing pretty rainbows?
Are you tired of spinning round and round?
Wrap up all the shattered dreams of your life
And at the feet of Jesus lay them down
(Chorus)
give them all, give them all, give them all to Jesus
Shattered dreams, wounded hearts, broken toys,
Give them all, give them all, give them all to Jesus
And He will turn your sorrow’s into joy

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The TRUE Meaning of Pay It Forward

Picture1She reached out to embrace me with a heartfelt hug. As the softness of her cheek brushed against mine, I leaned in and gently kissed it. As I did, the elderly woman whispered in my ear, “I can’t thank you enough, this means so much to me. I’ve really needed help and didn’t know who to call or ask.”

I turned to watch my teenage grandson as he worked to clean, sort and organize Sarah’s kitchen pantry. Sarah has Parkinson’s and her hands tremble and shake uncontrolably. Some days are better than others, but this once vibrant member of our community now has limited use of her hands.

Sarah rarely complains about her condition. Things as simple as changing light bulbs, vacuuming the inside of her car and trimming back flower beds are no longer things she can do without help.  She had asked if I knew of a teen in our community that could help with chores. Sarah was willing to pay, but with limited funds, she couldn’t afford to hire a professional service.

I own a cleaning company and take care of Sarah’s house cleaning needs, but there are things not included as part of my business services so I asked my grandson if he wanted the opportunity to work.  It’s is a win-win situation. My grandson needs the cash and Sarah needs a trustworthy, affordable worker.

Pay It Forward endeavors and missions aren’t always glamorous and sometimes require more effort on our part than donating a bag of clothes or buying a cup of coffee for the person ahead of us in line. There are times when it means we must get our hands dirty or donate time we really don’t have. In the case of my grandson, it was cleaning up mouse droppings, crusted bird feeders and disposing of expired food product in a pantry.

It could be delivering a home cooked meal to someone who is home-bound, offering carpool services to a parent that can’t get kids to an event because of their work schedule or providing  your professional services or labor without charge.

In whatever way you choose to Pay It Forward let it be done  out of love, compassion and with a servant’s heart. Let it be done without a contrived effort to validate your own self-worth or to showcase your personal acts of goodness to others.

Benjamin Franklin loaned a man in need some money one time and he said,

“I do not pretend to give such a deed. I only lend it to you. When you meet with another honest man in similar distress as you, you must pay me by lending this sum to him.”

Although my grandson is getting paid to work, there may come a day when he is unable to do things for himself.  Should that happen, I hope he pays it forward and hires a vibrant, robust teen like himself who needs to earn spending money.

Passing on good deeds may seem like a novel, modern idea, but it is as old as the work God is doing with humanity. He has given us life and everything else we need to achieve our potential—eternal life in the family of God. Let’s take the good things God has done for us and do our part to embrace the TRUE meaning of pay it forward by being representatives of His never ending grace.