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?

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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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Heart Matters

Her answering machine picked up and I rattled off a message. The minute I hung up the phone I realized my words had probably not exactly conveyed what I meant. In the space of a heartbeat, embarrassed mortification filled me. My hand hovered over the receiver but it was too late. The words could not be snatched back. Calling again would only make it worse.

The next time I saw her I rushed up to her, ready to explain, but she was already laughing. Fortunately, she knew me well enough that my intention managed to shine through those ill chosen words left recorded on her machine.

I have a unique talent for saying the wrong thing. My friend forgave me my awkwardness because she could discern my heart. It doesn’t always turn out so well. Communication can be hard.

The knowledge that God always understands me is a great comfort. People may judge by outward appearances, but God looks deeper. By following Him, continually seeking His will and purpose, I am assured that in spite of all my missteps and fumbles, my desire to do His will pleases Him. He sees my heart.

1 John 3

Charity Case

The mail lady honked her horn, announcing the arrival of something that wouldn’t fit into the mailbox. Something that had to be hand delivered to the door. One of the kids went to see. His reaction caused the rest of the young ones to spill out into the yard, carrying their shouts and squeals with them. The dog joined in the happy rumpus, barking and wiggling his way into the pack of children.

Boxes from various states, one for each child, were presented with flourish. The dog did not get one, but wagged his tail and grinned along with the rest. After farewells of “Merry Christmas,” because it was, the jeep made it down the driveway only a short way, leaving a trail of white envelopes, before stopping. In all the excitement, the mail lady had forgotten the letters placed on top of her vehicle.

How our names got on the list all those years ago is still a mystery, although I have my suspicions. There had been many lean Christmases, but a series of circumstances left this one was practically emaciated. And now there were boxes of gifts; clothes, gently loved toys (cookie monster!) and new items, too. The packages were overflowing with shiny love.

These blessings came from unexpected places, arriving at a key time. You see, God knows exactly what we need and when we need it. It may be the physically practical or simply a kind gesture of encouragement from another. If God determines to bless one, or more, of His children you can be sure it will come to pass.

And my God will liberally supply ([i]fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:9 Amplified Bible

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. I Corinthians 3:13 KJV

Bless Your Heart

“You would not believe what she said to me!”

“What?” I asked my new friend.

Loralee has a southern name but she hails from Utah. Quite often, she finds our culture a little different than what she is used to.

Recently Lora had taken a tumble down the stairs and broken her leg.

“She said,” Loralee’s voice quavered, “she said……Bless Your Heart!”

My northern friend had heard about the southern propensity of tacking “Bless Her Heart” onto statements to soften or convey a subtle insult. What she didn’t understand was the difference between “That girl is three bricks shy of a load, bless her heart,” and “I’m so sorry you’re not well! Bless your heart.”

Sometimes it’s used for comfort.

I have, on occasion, misunderstand the true meaning of another’s comments, either because of my own past experience, or due to a skewed interpretation.

Sometimes “Bless your heart” just means . . . bless your heart.

Boxes of Dreams

“You, too?”
“Yes,” she confessed.
Dawn and I had not seen each other in years. It seems both of us have a penchant for collecting old blue jeans with plans to ‘someday’ make a quilt. We even have the same pattern in mind!
As the conversation went on, I had to wonder how many years we’d hung on to all those packed away pants.

It takes a lot of little squares to make a quilt.
Often my idea of how things need to be ‘just so’ before I can undertake a task stops me from ever starting. The vision is kept neatly folded away in boxes, waiting for the day I can fashion it into the design I dream of.

I finally made a blue jean quilt. It’s not the one I planned. It’s completely different than anything I imagined when I first started saving blue jeans.

But I like it.

Have you had a dream that needed adjusting? Did it change into something better?