Why Look Beyond Labels?

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We love to label.

Disabled, Gifted, Conservative, Liberal,

The tendency to label is a natural one. It’s how we make sense of the world, but all too often we automatically stick people in the wrong category and leave them there.

It’s hard to love someone after they’ve been sealed into a box stamped with the label “undesirable”. There are so many ways to label people as unwanted, different, and somehow ‘less than’.

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If we could overcome our need to categorize and compartmentalize people long enough to find the person underneath, what would we see? People are more than the name tag they wear.

People are more than the labels they wear. (Tweet This)

We are supposed to be careful of what we let influence us, but avoiding destructive behaviors and thoughts are not the same thing as avoiding people in the not us camp.

We are to be salt and light, walking without fear. (Matthew 5:13-16) In the world, but not of it. (Romans 12:2)

What if we peeled back the labels?

Convict, Leader, Homeless, Executive,

What if we ignored societal convention and followed Jesus’ example?

Tax Collector, Fisherman, Prostitute,

What if we opened our eyes and saw the human being underneath the designations that society has slapped on them?

Human Being.

As long as we give our attention to labels we allow our opinion to be colored by it. We limit our view of the person and who they can become.

Before anything else, God values people for who they are, not what they do or believe.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5 :8 NIV

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV

What if we took a look under our own labels, the ones we so proudly wear? Without our protective labels firmly stuck in place, are we brave enough to relate person to person?

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How to Be Ridiculously Blessed

How to Be Ridiculously Blessed

 

 

 

 

 

To get we have to give. If we want to be blessed, then we bless others. If we want to be ridiculously blessed, then we need to get ready to dig deep.

We have to be brave. We have to be willing to look silly or awkward. Many times God will nudge us to get outside our box, but the idea of doing something unexpected or different causes a freeze up. Don’t worry about how you appear. Once I sent a simple note to a lady who I had barely spoken to before. She was much older than I, a fixture in the church I grew up in. I took a little blue flowered note card out of its package and wrote her. I told her how she encouraged me by always faithfully showing up. It may have been three lines, if that. The next time I saw her she cried and told me how she had been thinking of leaving the church.

Don’t ignore those nudges. They are there for a reason, of importance and significance.

Another time I got a message for someone I had briefly met the week before. Since I did not know her and had not even had a conversation of any substance with her, I was apprehensive about delivering this message but forged ahead. When I gave her the sheet of paper she grabbed me so hard she scared me. It was exactly what she needed to hear and her reaction demonstrated that fact. I asked her if it was all right to share the piece and she said yes. You can read it here.

Being allowed to deliver God’s personal love letters is one of the most exquisite blessings. It’s not something I am willing to give up. The risk of feeling silly is a small price to pay, and you know what? Never has anyone rejected a kind word. We are all at one time or another walking wounded in need of balm. It is our rightful blessing to claim the occupation of helper to our fellow travelers.

Be extravagant. Not necessarily with money, but with whatever is available. It could be money. Buy a struggling family Christmas. Oh, now THAT is something that will bless all parties involved. If money is lacking, there are other ways to over-the-top bless someone. Years ago during mom to toddlers days, my friend was having one of those hard, hard days. We talked on the phone for a long time, but it did not seem to help. I called my husband and had him come watch the kids while they napped. I wanted to surprise her with a delivery of something to cheer her. I brought her chocolate shakes. Yes, that is plural. One didn’t seem to be enough. Neither she nor I have forgotten my extravagant impulse to over-provide chocolate on that particular blues and laughter filled day.

Put some thought into it. There are things that hold special meaning to people in our lives. With a little thought, we know how to reach hearts. Yesterday my daughter made a bottle for her friend who is moving away. The idea of a message in a bottle (cue the waterworks) is special to them and holds particular memories. The bottle is stuffed with many affirming and precious notes written from my daughter to her friend. Just looking at this gift of love and care from one friend to another makes you want to  go grab a Kleenex, doesn’t it?

messages in a decorated bottle

There are so many ways to claim our blessings by being a blessing.

Do you have any ideas on how to be a ridiculous, brave, extravagant, thoughtful blessing today?

While I'm Waiting...

 

 

 

 

 

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Take the Road to Dreams

No one else can live our dreams for us. To place what is in one’s heart, superimposing it on an another’s destiny, is a cowardly ambition. To allow people to use us in such a way is almost as bad.

Our dreams are our own. People will tell us that we are not good enough. They will say, “you are not an artist,” or “not educated enough,” or “the right kind,” and that they know better. They lie.

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You are beautifully and wonderfully made, complete with a destiny, a fire in the belly. It’s your job to stoke it, regardless of how many wet blankets come along oh-so-eager to smother.

Forget nurturing the tiny spark with gentleness, hiding from naysayers. Make the fire roar so they don’t have a chance to extinguish the flame.

Forget nurturing the tiny spark with gentleness, hiding from naysayers. Make the fire roar. (Tweet This)

Some people disrespect you because their eyes are too full of their own failures to see beyond the smallness of themselves. Don’t be them. Tend to your own vision. Do this and you will recognize the greatness in fellow travelers.

There is no need to push others aside, because the road prepared for you is your own. The obstacles there are your own as well. It is your job to take them on.

Do not go against what God has prepared for you. Figure out what you are here for and get to it. Dreams can be quiet and simple, but must be large to your own eyes. Dig around in your soul and find them. Understand the uniqueness of your calling. Understand the value of your deepest hopes and why they are imbedded in your being.

There are prizes you will never receive. Goals unreachable and impossible. They all look that way from where you are standing right now. No one can say with the slightest speck of certainty what dreams are within your reach.

No one can say with the slightest speck of certainty what dreams are within your reach. (Tweet This)

Passion and destiny collide. With all the tears and bloody bruising, it’s not always pretty. But it is always exquisite, your beautiful dream, big and gorgeously audacious in the middle of ambition and grit.

The joy is in the pursuit of destiny, not in trophies or glittery accolades.

This is how we live a dream.

What will you do with your dreams today?

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cat lion forget nuturing the tiny spark . . .make the fire roar donnastone.me quote

What Is Real? |Five Minute Friday

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Every week, bloggers from around the web come together and write for five minutes on one word. Join us!

Today’s Five Minute Friday prompt is Real.

 

 

The things that are the most real are the ones hardest to quantify. You can’t hold them in your hand, unless you count holding hands.

When I was young, if you had asked me what was real I would have said houses or land, money in the bank, but I would have been wrong.

The real things are quick silver wispy bits, of no physical substance even while they are the weightiest.

You cannot actually see sorrow or hold passion, but there are few things greater and more substantial.

There is an unbendable strength to what is real.

Real things are absolute and do not change. Nothing can erase them once they exist.

Real things are evident when the heart looks.

Isn’t it odd how the firm and solid things, the truest and most concrete things of all are not definable things at all?

Yet they couldn’t be any more real.

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Here and Now| When Five Minute Friday

Five minutes, no edits, one word.

 

When.

When is such a strange word. A nothing word. A word that looks both backwards and forwards but not at the here and now.

When I was younger, she says, I was so happy. I didn’t feel like I had to be someone I’m not. She mourns. Her eyes take in the old self of what she once was and no matter what I say, she cannot see the beauty of who she is. I say, you are still you, and she nods. There is no sparkle.

When I get in to my house, he says, and begins to tell of all the adventures and plans that will happen then. In his imagination of when he has already paid of a mortgage and saddled himself with more debt, buying things. In his future when there is not rust or rot. Then he will be happy, he thinks, when a shiny red pickup and a garden and fences and a hundred other things litter his paid for kingdom.

When school is done, the other one says, then I will get a job I like. His days will be spent on worthwhile pursuits and he will drink life and be satisfied, when that happens.

I used to dwell on the mountain top between the whens and never know it. Too busy looking backward and forwards I missed the view, the joy of being between the whens.

Today I do not think of the whens of the past or the future. Today I want to live in the now.

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What We Keep | Five Minute Friday

This is my  first Five Minute Friday post. We are given a one word prompt and five minutes of time. No edits. Scary.

Here we go.

KEEP

I keep many things

Old knick knacks from my grandmother’s shelf

Tiny dollhouse furniture

only to be looked at

Made of tin cans by a man she once knew

Its red velvet cushions not to be touched

doll funiture

A ceramic cat, curled up, unnatural yellow painted fur that doesn’t make me sneeze

The box my viewmaster used to be in

Other things collect themselves there now

Pictures and drawings

Cards from my children

Misshapen hearts constructed of red with flaky streaks of glue from a decade ago

Of all the things I keep I wish to keep a heart that loves

Full of forgiveness for the tattered bits and mismatched colors

the dust that clings to the corners

and sharp edges of all that is kept in my memory

Kept in my heart.

 

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The Last Chocolate

Ever felt like the last chocolate left in the box? You know, the one that’s been picked up and put back until smudgy fingerprints decorate the sides. Maybe someone took a little corner off, then changed their mind after that one small bite. Ouch.

I’ve felt like that last lonely chocolate rattling around in the box. The most popular ones are snatched up first, then the next favorites. In the case of a variety box of chocolate, the best is not usually saved for last.

I read an article recently giving the writer’s opinion that companies should do away with the less popular selections. People responded. Oddly enough, not everyone has the same favorite! Even the candies that none of my friends or family gobble up are someone else’s prize. Preferences are a matter of personal taste.

box of valentine chocolates

Maybe it’s the heart shaped box, or the variety, or the fact that everyone has an opinion about which chocolates are the most desirable, but a valentine variety box reminds me of the body of Christ.

Each comes in its own little wrapper and each is unique. They were all put there on purpose. Not a single one snuck in by mistake. You can’t always tell from appearances which one contains the caramel, or where the nuts are hiding. Surprises abound.

All wrapped up and given with love by Love to someone who is loved.

Something to remember the next time I am passed over or suffer a few bite marks before being tossed back.

And then I think maybe I should consider the little bits of sweetness I tend to leave behind, even if I don’t mean to, simply because I prefer another.

There is a reason they are someone else’s favorite. Maybe I should find out why that is.

1 Corinthians 12

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Giving Thanks: Searching the Storm Clouds for Silver

This week I have had several conversations with friends about going through hard seasons. We all have our share. I hesitated to spill words here, for fear of being misunderstood, named melancholy. That is not where I am. I write these words to bring honesty and an attempted measure of comfort. At times it is good to speak of our oh-so-common pain and poorly hidden struggles.

There are times when darkness overwhelms.
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Even though we assuredly know we are blessed, untangling threads of silver from the storm clouds remains elusive. (Tweet This)

I used to say that times are hard but at least . . . and would then consider those things and events that were not, as if comparing tragedy to tragedy would lighten the load.

I still do this and there is a coping value in such a habit, but today I choose to face head on the things here and now. The pain that demands to be felt and not only touched but gripped. There is much to be thankful for in the midst of the human condition we so often find ourselves.

When everything moves off center, regaining a sure footing is a dance too clumsy to perform well. There is a profound lack of grace in the middle of stumbling over a thing so large its impact has shifted your entire world. When this happens, and it will, it is impossible to catch yourself. The ground is hard and strewn with half-forgotten discards that make for a rocky landing. We bruise. We bleed.

But we cannot catch ourselves, even when we realize the hard fall is coming.

I am thankful for the God Who Catches Me.

Today I am thankful for not knowing. For the should have, could have, would haves, the guilt and horrible realization that seizes me as I gape at the depth of my inadequacy. Facing our own lack is a rude and exquisitely singular pain. But I believe in a God who reveals.

The revelation here is that I will never truly be enough or do enough. What arrogance to think I was ever intended to be.

I give thanks for the God Who is Enough.

I am thankful for the desert places. I have been to the place where I have given and given, expecting a return. It did not come. There was a time I would become upset with those who did not respond in kind, not understanding that people cannot give what they do not possess and no amount of striving on my part will cause my need for reciprocity to be fulfilled. That yesterday seems so long ago from the here and now moment my feet are entrenched in today.

I have learned what it is to dwell in desert places, to have someone hold my heart in their hand without even an inkling of understanding what that means. Yes, there is sorrow in the knowledge that this love will not be returned, but there is an unfathomable greatness in knowing that without requital I would walk, with no hesitation, through fire for this one.
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It is in the act of giving, not receiving, that love comes to rest in its true purpose. (Tweet This)

Today I am thankful for the power of love that comes only from God. It pours itself out, watering this desert, and life blooms.

I am thankful for the God Who Fits His Vessels.

I have tried to be thankful through physical pain. This is one of my large failures. I detest measuring my time and energy in small, careful steps when my nature wants to run and dance headlong into adventure. But here I am, creeping along, sweating in a most unladylike manner and uttering words that are equally unladylike. I do not like this weakness, this dependency, this failure. I am not the owner of an angelic countenance and no gentle speech regarding my body’s suffering flows from my lips. My days are filled with physical pain and I bite against the restriction.

Any advice on what the grand meaning of this thorn may be will not be welcomed as long as I remain in this frame of mind. I much prefer being ministered to with soft, encouraging words accompanied by something chocolate and gooey delivered to my door. Yet I am thankful for today’s small victories.There will be an end to difficult times, of this I am sure. My thoughts skip over all the in-betweens.

I am profoundly thankful for the faith and hope that provides me courage to continue on.

I am thankful for the God Who is My God.

Flower with Quote Thankful for the Power

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This post is part of the Thankful for God’s Gifts Blog Hop. Please be sure to stop by the other participants listed below.

11/17/14 Loving Christ Ministries: Thankful In Grief www.lovingchristministries.com
11/18/14 Keeper Ministries: The Barren Woman a Joyful Mother – God’s Perfect Gift www.KeeperMinistries.com
11/19/14 Teena Myers Blog: A Greater Gift http://teenalmyers.com/blog/
11/20/14 Live, Love, Laugh, Post: 7 Reasons I Am Thankful For God http://livelaughlovepost.com
11/21/14 The Green Tomato Experience: To Serve and Capture http://www.thegreentomatoexperience.com/
11/22/14 Donna Stone Blog, Giving Thanks: Searching the Storm Clouds for Silver https://donnastone.me/
11/24/14 Sister We Thrive: Sister, given any thought to being thankful? Well, I have. http://www.lindsyb.com/#!blog/c17x6
11/25/14 Completely Committed Blog: One Grateful Mom http://completelycommittedgirl.blogspot.ca
11/26/14 The Kangacoo Blog Grateful People Share, Daily Bread is Enough www.kangacoo.com/kanga-blog

godsgiftsbloghop

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My Mother’s Day Post

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I wanted to write a nice, heartfelt mother’s day post, but I’m having a hard time. Here’s a confession: I have allowed myself to be snared by the entitlement trap. The one that makes you question, “Is it too much to ask for a little appreciation one day out of the year? One measly day?”

I know letting these kinds of thoughts in only makes me and everyone else around me unhappy (If Momma ain’t happy . . .) so I try to not be that way. I really do. But when other moms start posting their pics, that familiar monster of discontentment rears its head and takes a big old bite out of my good intentions.

I know them all well, every member of my little family. I know the intricacies of who each one of them is, their hopes and plans for the future, and how they like the jam spread on their toast. Sometimes I want them to know me, too, to see me as something more than she-who-takes-care-of-us.

It makes me cranky. Extremely.

Here’s the very, very foolish thing about this mind set. I say all the time that what I do, being a mom, is the best investment I could ever make. I love being mom, and there is absolutely nothing I would rather spend my time doing. I mean it with every single molecule of my being. I say it to friends, strangers and my beautiful family constantly.

I think I want breakfast in bed, and nicely wrapped gifts of writer’s books that show deep consideration and thoughtfulness. Something that shows me they recognize my soul. I do get gifts. And I appreciate new cookware, it’s only that I would like a more personal gift item every now and then, perhaps one that reflects my interests. I want to be seen, acknowledged.

But instead of recognizing me as a writer or the girl who likes roses, this is how they see me:

The fixer.

Reader of every single text you send her. Ever.

Possessor of magic mommy spit.

Emergency cash fund.

Lady with the mop bucket when they get sick all over the floor.

The soft, cool hands laid on a forehead and a kiss on the cheek.

Mender of torn clothes and tattered pride.

Advisor. Advocate. Rear-end Kicker.

Roast-cooking, sandwich making, vitamin-pushing nourisher.

Listener of stories and complaints and dreams.

The one to run to with happy news. The one to run to with bad news. The one to run to with the worst news of your life.

The one who lets you cry, even when it kills her.

The safe place.

Home.

They don’t tell me these things, but I know this is who I am to them because I live it every day.

I hope they never, ever see me as anything less than mom.

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