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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Growing Weary?

Do not grow weary.

I get weary. Who doesn’t? But lately I have been pondering growing weary. Not being weary, but growing it.

To grow something you have to feed it. Good or bad, growing things must have a source of light, water, and food. Conditions have to be right. Shelter from predators and inclement conditions must be provided.

I never considered the concept of growing weary like I grow other things like faith and patience. I can see how a person could feed weariness. Negative thoughts, listening to wrong people, forgetting Who is really in charge here, neglecting to recharge and encourage ourselves; all of these things help weariness thrive.

Our souls will always filled by something. Even when we say we are empty we are speaking of a feeling of darkness, despondency, or negativity. Our world is designed with no gaps, the spaces filling up as soon as there is an inch of available space. Something pushes in. Something grows.

To raise something we want, we cultivate, preparing the soil and digging as deep as future roots require. No shallow scraping out of a handful of dirt, the shovel digs deep. If the earth resists, we dampen with water, forcing softness out of stubbornness. We do this without taking affront. It is the nature of things.

It is also the nature within us that prompts us to prepare for a large thing, a deep thing. This is faith.

We loosen the earth, raking, grabbing handfuls of dirt and squeezing, breaking, understanding that the goodness will not give itself up to those who refuse to work. You have to be willing to get your hands dirty. You have to be willing to have faith.

Your faith must be large enough that you feed and water the plants and protect them constantly. Unguarded and neglected, they rarely produce. Even the strong, well established plants are no match for a sudden frost, or hungry caterpillars.

Except of course, for the never ending weeds. This is the battle. Plants that give us life, and plants that choke out those that give us sustenance.

We choose what we will grow.

Death and life. Build or destroy.

It is very easy to grow weariness if we succumb. It is a natural thing, like weeds. Something is going to flourish in every gap we leave open. There is no empty space.

No one intends to propagate weeds. They creep in when attention is elsewhere, taking advantage of every opportunity. Before you know it, they are tall and strong, arrogantly taking over the place if we let them.

A garden needs regular tending. A calling needs feeding.

Do not grow weary.

 

Watering Can A garden ... Do not grow weary quote donnastone,me

 

Today I will feed my soul with Truth and not grow weary. If I keep my focus on the tending of my destiny, refusing negative thoughts, weariness will have a much harder time taking hold.

Time to get my hands grit-under-the-nails dirty.

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Mean Girls

mean (adj.) selfish in a petty way, unkind, cruel, spiteful; ignoble.

It’s a common pitfall. Everyone hates the mean girl, but if we are honest we have to admit her shoes fit us entirely too well.

After all, what’s a comment or two? And that youtube video was awfully funny, even if it embarrassingly mocked that girl. People do irritate us with their inconsiderate behavior. So what’s wrong with a little venting? It’s only an opinion. Besides, my friends agree with me, so I must be right. Right?

Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it. Ephesians 4:29 AMP

We may not consider our words to be exactly evil, but scripture tells us to only speak that which is good and beneficial.

Is It Kind? Is It True? Is It Necessary?

Instead of being ‘mean-spirited’, we are commanded to be a conduit of God’s love, so that we fulfill our purpose to give blessing and bring grace.

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.”

The Freedom of Proverbs 31

It isn’t just a list of the attributes of what a godly woman is supposed to do. Proverbs 31:30 & 31 are two of my favorite verses in the entire Bible. They are the answer to the “How?” in every woman’s mind after hearing that long recitation of the qualities of a virtuous woman. If you leave off the end of this section of scripture, you’ll miss it.

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.

The woman in Proverbs is praised, not because she is some kind of super woman, but because she reveres God. She trusts Him and walks in obedience, producing fruit for the Kingdom.

I don’t know how to weave cloth, and I have no vineyards in the literal sense, but I can dedicate each day to serve, leaning on Jesus to help me accomplish the specific task He has called me to do.

Here’s the best part.

When we follow Jesus, that faithfulness yields good results. And then He rewards us with the very fruit we could have never produced without Him.

Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.

Hands

She stood waiting for Him. When He came near she noticed how unflinching his gaze was.

“Let me see your hands,” He said.

Her eyes widened. “My hands?”

“Yes.”

Slowly she held them out, palms up. He took her hands into His and scrutinized them.

“Your hands look dirty,” He said.

A blush crept up her neck. “I cannot get the stains out. It’s from working in the garden,” she explained.

He nodded and continued to look closely her hands. His finger traced a partially healed mark. “What happened here?”

“The burn?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“I was cooking and touched a hot pan.”

“And the scar?”

She thought it was such a tiny scar that no one would notice, but He did. “I was washing windows and one broke.”

“Why are your hands wet?” He asked.

“A little boy fell over there,” she gestured, “a moment ago. I was waiting for You and had nothing else to wipe his tears with, so I used my hands.”

“The garden,” He said, “Was it my garden you were working in?”

“Why, yes Lord. It was,” she said.

“Were you cooking for My servant when you burnt your hand?”

“Yes Lord,” she said, remembering that she had been.

“This scar,” He held up her hand, “were you washing windows in the house built for those who come to hear of Me?”

She nodded.

“And these tears here in your palm, are they the tears of one of My lambs?”

“Yes Lord,” she whispered.

“Beloved,” He said to her, “you have the most beautiful hands.”