Unkind people need your kindness most

Someone has been unkind to you in the past, haven’t they? Maybe intentionally, maybe not. But we’ve all been hurt by someone.

I’m sure you can recall exactly who it was and how they made you feel – and probably, what you wanted to say back, whether you said it or not.

One of the hardest things we face as Christians is being Christ-like to those who, quite frankly, don’t deserve any kindness.

Last week, I faced that very situation. Someone was extremely rude to me via text message. I am talking the kind of comments that are meant to purposely tear someone down and make them cry. That kind of unkind.

I did not know this person very well, so it was hard to take the insults very seriously. Still, they were hurtful things that spoke directly to my own fears and insecurities.

I know who I am in Christ, and a few intentionally mean comments aren’t going to change that. I’m a daughter of the King. He loves me, so why does it matter what someone else thinks?

My initial reaction was to write a text telling him where to go. Really. I almost wrote those three words. Yes, I am still shocked at myself.

At the time, I was busy and couldn’t respond immediately. It’s a good thing I didn’t, because then I felt the Holy Spirit speak to me. I felt that he wanted me to respond kindly, so I did.

Wouldn’t Jesus do the same thing?

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil for evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. -1 Peter 3:3-9

If we’re kind to our enemies, God will bless us. This is so counter intuitive to our nature.  But if we want the light of Jesus to shine through us, we have to live out Christ’s love daily. This means being kind to people who do not treat us with the same courtesy.

I’m not saying you should let people walk all over you. There is a point at which we all need to stand up for ourselves. But I think there’s a way to still do that while letting the love of Christ shine through us.

I agree the people who intentionally hurt us don’t deserve kindness or love. But how will they see Christ in us if we only love those who love us back?

You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? -Matthew 5:43-46

When Jesus lived and died on this earth, he was hated and persecuted by the very people he came to save. We didn’t deserve His love, but He gave it anyway. When we adopt this mindset in our actions toward others, we become a little more like Christ.

In this life, we’re going to be faced with tough situations like this, but I believe the Lord tests us to see what we’ll do. In a way, I’m thankful He allows these things to happen, otherwise I wouldn’t have a chance to really let others see how He lives in me.

And in the process, God continues to show that nothing could change His love for me or you.

The uphill climb isn’t over yet

When God finally does something amazing in our lives, there are no words to describe how good He truly is. When he shows up, he really shows up.

He’s just that good.

But here’s the thing. I don’t know about you, but I have this misconception that once God finally answers a long-awaited prayer, that’s it! Everything is going to be perfect. Or at least as close to perfect as you can get.

It’s pretty much like I’ve arrived at my destination. My thoughts may go something like, “So here I am God. Thanks for all your help. I’ve got this now!”

Except it isn’t very long after I get “the thing” that I realize something  – this thing comes with challenges all its own.

Well, darn it. I just climbed one mountain. Now I have to go up another one?

And suddenly, there I am again, standing at the bottom of a mountain I cannot possibly climb. Once again, as I’m rendered helpless, I fall on my knees, realizing just how much I need a great big God.

Not that I ever didn’t.

It’s then I must come to terms with something: I may never arrive at my “destination” here on this earth. It’s all a journey.

While the mountains we face look impossible, God can make a way even when there doesn’t appear to be one. He can give us the strength to do it.

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. -Isaiah 40:29-31

We may be at the bottom of a mountain, but we don’t have to climb it alone. I don’t know how we could. When we need strength, Jesus is there to pull us along. Some days he even picks us up and carries us.

And have you noticed how when you fix your eyes on God instead of the situation you’re facing, that mountain starts to shrink?

God allows trials to come into our lives not only so we grow in our faith, but so He can show us His goodness and grace along the way.

I encourage you to pray for peace, strength and wisdom to see beyond the four narrow walls we tend to build around our situations. Pray that the Lord would help you see the bigger picture. He knows the future, and it will all come together for His glory if you follow Him.

And you know what happens after we get through it?

We have a testimony! And that, my friends, is the most powerful thing of all.

All you have to do is ask

I hate admitting this, but I can really be a worrier sometimes. Maybe you can relate.

Usually, the thing I’m fretting over is something that’s not within my reach of control. But somehow, it seems that by sitting there worrying about it, that’s totally going to fix things, right?

I can’t even count the number of instances I’ve wrung my hands for some amount of time before it occurred to me that I haven’t even prayed or sought God on the issue yet.

And how often do we worry about something that’s not even real? We conjure up fears in our minds and worry about all the “what ifs.” I know I do.

Come to think of it, this happened to me the other day. Fear crept into my mind about something totally nonexistent but hypothetical. All in my head. Then I felt God’s gentle nudge, reminding me he was there.

When I finally prayed to Him, I felt relief. He gives a peace that passes understanding, and it’s amazing.

We tend to complicate this concept. But it’s so simple: Just ask Him. He wants to hear what’s on your heart. You’re His child and He would love nothing more than to just talk with you. It’ true God already knows what you need, but He wants you to tell Him.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. -Matthew 7:7-8

Isn’t that a great promise? If we just seek Him and His will, He’ll provide for us. No concern is too big or too small.  But worrying in the meantime isn’t going to get us there any faster.

I can equate this to something I do often – running on a treadmill. It’s a good way to exhaust yourself without actually going anywhere. Worrying is exactly the same thing.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? -Matthew 6:25-27

The Lord continually reminds me of the last part of that verse. It seems so obvious – how could we add a single hour to our lives by worrying? But if you’re like me, you may forget!

A good reminder of this is to think back to a time when I felt fear about a particular situation and how worrying didn’t improve anything. Then I think of what God did. And you know what? He always came through. He is so faithful.

Sometimes I can’t believe how good God has been to me. I’m so undeserving, yet he continually provides more than I ask for. So why did I worry so much? True faith is trusting that God isn’t going to let us down. He never does.

He isn’t going to let you down either. Just ask Him for help. He wants to intervene in your situation and give you a peace that passes all understanding.

What are you waiting for?

Something came to your mind instantly, didn’t it? And I’m not surprised, because if we’re honest with ourselves, we’re all seeking something beyond our current circumstances.

When you spend a long time praying for something and it still doesn’t happen or come about for months or even years, you start to wonder if it ever will. You start to – dare I say it – doubt God. Maybe only a tiny bit. Even though you trust Him with your whole heart, maybe you feel that He’s forgotten about you.

Everyone around you seems to be getting more than their dose of happiness in life, but you’re still [insert your situation here].

What are you asking God for?

Like you, I have waited for things. Have I ever waited for them. It’s painful to realize that you have no control over your situation and there’s not much you can do to speed things up. But it’s also beautiful when you come to learn God does have control, and that the ultimate resolution He will bring about is so much better than anything we could have planned.

Looking back on some of my own past circumstances, God didn’t answer every prayer exactly the way I asked Him to.  Most of the time, He came through in a way I couldn’t have imagined, but rarely in my own time frame. His was much better.

Take my current job. It’s amazing and I love it, but if it had been up to me, I would have taken a job I interviewed for (but was not offered) several months prior. That was before the position at my current company was even posted, but God was already one step ahead!

Like a parent, God knows best, and he wants to give us the best. That is, if we’ll wait. But if we trudge ahead, insisting we do it our own way and refuse to wait on the Lord, we can’t have His best. We just have our own “best,” which, from my own experience, isn’t very good.

Suffering shapes us

You know, we’re not promised a life without suffering. But there is hope.

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” -Romans 5:3-5

It’s so encouraging to know that in waiting on the Lord for something, it’s not a punishment from God. It’s exactly the opposite – He’s disciplining us so that we may become the man or woman He desires us to be.

And when you finally get something you’ve waited so long for, isn’t it just that much better?

I want to end this post with a verse that’s gotten me through a tough season of discouragement over the last few months, and I hope it lifts your spirits as well.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. -1 Peter 5:10

I don’t know long a little while is, for me or for you, but it’s not forever.

So whatever you’re waiting on, remember God hasn’t forgotten about you. He loves you. And in His timing, He will bring about His best in your life.

 

You’ll never walk alone

Have you ever walked through a situation so tough that at times you felt alone?

I have.

For me, it’s been a health issue. Those who know me well are aware I’ve struggled with stomach issues for most of my life, and frankly, it just makes some days suck.

It can be isolating because I feel like no one understands what I’m going through – even supportive friends and family.  So it’s pretty comforting to know there is one who always understands – and that’s Jesus.

Even Jesus felt alone at times. That seems strange when you think about it, since He’s God and all, but He lived on the earth as one of us, so He has experienced our pain.

“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.” Isaiah 53:3

Difficult as those painful times can be, I’ve discovered that’s when I’m actually closest to God. If things were always easy, I wouldn’t need Him as much!

I think those hard times bring us closer to Jesus because by then we’ve probably exhausted every “worldly” avenue of fixing things, coming only to realize Jesus was the only one who could help us all along. It’s just, sometimes we have to hit our our most desperate point to finally figure that out.

I have found myself praying and pleading with God to take my pain away, just to heal me. And though that hasn’t necessarily happened, something else has: I’ve found him in the pain. He is with me. I’ve come to realize that He was all I ever really needed in the first place. Life will never be pain free, but Jesus will always be with us.

A great verse that illustrates this:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9

God cares about your circumstances, your life, your pain, your heartache and your struggles. All you have to do is pray to Him. Just tell Him what’s on your mind. Ask Him to be with you and strengthen you through whatever you’re dealing with.

In 1 Peter 5:7, it even says:

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Maybe for you the pain isn’t physical. But emotional wounds can cut through us just as deeply, if not more. Really, friends, Jesus cares about you and wants to meet you in your situation, wherever you may be.

Just call on His name and you’ll see. He is always with us.

Let your light shine

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Growing up, I never had much of an interest in sports or athletics because, truth be told, I never felt I was good at it. Unless you count my mom’s cheesy ’80s Jane Fonda workout videos I sometimes did in high school. Don’t laugh. It was some serious calorie burning.

But I’m proud to say I’ve come a bit farther in recent years – now I run several times a week. I actually enjoy it, for the most part! And I’m proud to share that over the weekend, I completed my fourth 5K, the Firefly Run, with my best time yet. My sister Meghan did it with me. That’s her in the picture, by the way. Unlike my last few 5Ks where I ended up in the back with all the strollers, dogs and walkers, I actually started in the front this time. That helped improve my time, I think, but I felt like I was just keeping up. They were all passing me! A few times, I did actually pass some people. I felt a little better about myself after that.

But this isn’t just any 5K, people. First, it’s at nighttime, which I love because that means no early morning wake-up call. But the best part is all the beautiful lights that sparkle through the streets. Think all the crazy, blingy, glow attire – bracelets, headbands, sunglasses, Mickey Mouse ears, you name it. From an aerial view, I have to guess it would really look like fireflies.

That image got me thinking. As Christians, we’re called to be lights in a dark world. In Matthew 5: 14-16, it says this:

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Imagine if we all let the light of Jesus shine through us – in a figurative sense, it would look a lot like that 5K. I think too many of us, myself included, don’t always let our light shine as brightly as we should. But just like the nighttime, we live in a dark world. A world that desperately needs the light of Jesus. He is our only hope.

And I’m sure it goes without saying that far too many people in this world don’t know Jesus or His love for them. It’s so big. It changes who we are from the inside out. It forgives us, sets us free from our past and gives us new hope. When we live a life following Jesus, we live in complete freedom!

If more of us let our light shine, even just a little brighter, think of the difference we could make for the Lord’s kingdom. Sometimes “letting your light shine” is as simple as showing kindness to others, keeping a positive attitude at work or school or perhaps going out of your way to help someone. I think that’s where the phrase from the verse “good deeds”  plays in. Other times it’s witnessing to a friend, family member, coworker or even stranger who doesn’t know Jesus.

I also believe when we’re truly seeking Christ and living a life set on Him, that light will be shining – it’s simply a reflection of what’s already inside our heart. And friends, when you know the love of Jesus, that’s hard to keep inside. Anyone with me here?

We all lead busier lives than ever, and we all have our own problems to deal with. But don’t get so distracted by trivial day-to-day problems that you forget to share Christ with others. This one life is all we get. Don’t let it flash by without letting your light shine.

Hello and welcome!

Welcome to my blog! I’m honored that you’re here.

I’d say it’s safe to assume if reading this, you probably know me, and you may be wondering what compelled me to even start this. Well, good question!

A bit of background, if you don’t know: I love to write. Up until last summer, I worked at The Dallas Morning News, where I was a writer and editor covering community news. Now, I work as a content editor for a digital publishing company – which I love – but with it comes fewer writing opportunities.

Recently, I realized I miss writing and want to get back into it again, so I started praying God would about bring some more chances to write. Somehow or another, I got the idea to start a blog and felt the Lord pressing into my heart that THAT’s where He wants me to write!

Through this blog, I hope to share personal stories, scriptures and ways God has spoken to me in the hope of encouraging others. I may share opinions, but I don’t claim to be an expert on the Bible. Just a follower of Christ who is seeking Him and living in His grace daily. And right now, that’s enough. God has brought me through so many tough situations in life, even in just the last year, and I hope that by sharing a bit of what God is doing in my life and how he’s teaching me to trust him through even the hardest of times, you might be inspired in your walk with Him!

I certainly feel like some days I come up completely dry and don’t really have anything to give to others that would BEGIN to help them (I’m thinking, look at me, I’m a mess!  How can I encourage others?), but God has shown me this is the wrong way to think. We all have scars from the hard things we’ve been dealt in life, but I think each and every one of us has something we can offer to others, even if it’s just a few words of encouragement.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” -1 Thessalonians 5:11

I love that verse. Anyway, I would appreciate any feedback, as well as any topics you’d be interested in hearing about.

That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by!