9.17.2015

When It Feels Better to Blame Someone Else

You want to know one of the hardest three-word statements to make? “I am wrong.”

It’s so easy to point out wrong in others. It’s so easy to want it to be someone else’s fault. It’s so easy to get critical and cynical and caught up in our limited perspectives.

But boy is it hard to see our own flaws. Where we went wrong. What we need to own.

I’ve been challenging myself on this. I recently had to correct one of my children for trying to blame someone else for something my child needed to own themselves.

I could clearly see the pride, the insecurity, and the fear all wrapped around her blaming words. And why could I see it so clearly?

Because it’s always easier to spot in other people. But when I see pride in others, that’s the exact moment where I must challenge myself to examine my own heart.

In most conflicts I have two ways I can choose to travel:

The Path of Pride: I can blame the other person, focus only on their flaws and refuse to own my part of it. That response will increase my pride and decrease the Lord’s blessing in my life.

The Humble Way: I can honestly assess what I’m contributing to this conflict, admit where I went wrong and ask for forgiveness. That response will lead to humility and increase the Lord’s blessing in my life.

I see this principle woven throughout the Bible:

James 4:6b, “That is why Scripture says: God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” (NIV)

Proverbs 29:23, “Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.” (NIV)

Matthew 23:12, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (NIV)

I know this. I believe this. So, why do I still find it hard to implement sometimes?

Well, here’s where my head wants to go when I start examining certain conflicts: But what if it really isn’t my fault? It’s not fair to assign the blame with me when this person did this and this and this.

But that’s the wrong direction to go. Don’t try to assign the blame. Just own the part you brought into the conflict. When I approach conflict with a heart of humility, I’ve yet to see where I haven’t added something to the issue.

And if the other person doesn’t own their issues — the Lord will deal with them. (See the verses above.)

There are gifts hidden in the tough stuff of conflict. There is grace and honor to be gained. But I’ll only see those gifts if I stop blaming others and start examining myself.

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6.18.2015

4 Fun Ways to Grow Your Child’s Faith

My kids have always been fascinated when I’ve shared things I remember from my childhood with them. Those memories are especially meaningful when I point out how the stories relate to my life now.

So much about our stories can be traced back to God’s hand working in our lives, and when we share them, our kids can see evidence that Jesus is real and intimately involved with us.

What’s even more surprising is that they can later recall them in surprising detail! It’s amazing how well they remember the life lessons that I tie to the stories I tell.

While it may be difficult for a child to recall a passage of Scripture they just read, most can recall in specific detail the accounts of a story.

For instance, I love to tell them of the time my stepdad brought home a hand-me-down typewriter from his office. I placed my hands on the keys and wondered what it would be like to type pages of legible words. I loved the rap-tip-tap sound it made and envisioned myself finishing the final page of a book. I didn’t know enough words at that point to write an entire book, but one day I would.

That story allowed me to point out that even back then, Jesus was preparing me for my calling as an author. And although my kids may not understand their own callings yet, by seeing me live out mine and knowing that the Lord put it in my heart at a young age, they understand the reality that God does indeed have a plan for their lives. This gives them access to Divine Truth.

Jesus wanted children to have access to Him, “‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” (Matthew 19:14)

Tim Kimmel, in his book, “Why Christian Kids Rebel,” explains the number one reason that children walk away from the faith is that they never see it make a real difference in the lives of their parents.

So now, not only do I trace the hand of God in my past stories, but I also constantly look for ways to exemplify Jesus today.

I point out answers to things we’ve prayed about.

I show them the many ways God provides and make sure they know where credit is due.

I live my faith out loud so they cannot miss that Christ is the center of our home.

He has become too real to deny.

I pray my kids will start collecting their own stories of experiencing God. Then they can share the reality of Christ’s presence with their friends today and with their own children in the future. Yes, indeed, let the children have access to Jesus.

Help your child look for the hand of God in their life with “4 Fun Ways to Grow Your Child’s Faith”!

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4.23.2015

Hope When Mother’s Day is Hard

Last year, I received many heartbreaking comments from women who were really struggling with Mother’s Day. Just the mention of the holiday stirred up deep hurt over infertility, adoption, and singleness. That’s why I asked my friend Holley Gerth to guest post today. She understands that deep hurt from her own journey with infertility, and I just love how she can shine a light into what can be a really dark place. Here’s Holley…

The single pink line on the pregnancy test mocked me from the bathroom counter. “You’ll never be a mother,” it seemed to whisper.

I sighed and dropped it into the trash—along with the hope it represented. Then I sat down on the edge of my bed and placed my head in my hands. “God,” I whispered, “Why does this have to be so hard?”

That scenario repeated itself for years in my life.

And then my heart began to slowly, unexpectedly heal as God changed my perspective on motherhood. A turning point came as I read the third chapter of Genesis one morning. In it Eve is called “the mother of all living.” In that moment God seemed to whisper this truth to my heart: All women are mothers. Because all women bring life to the world in some way.

We encourage. We feed bellies and hearts. We nurture dreams. We create beauty. We birth books. And, yes, some of us also have physical children. But that’s not the only way to bring life into this world—it’s one of many.

I am not barren,” I began to tell myself, “I am blessed.

I realized I brought life into the world through my words. I was a mother. Embracing that truth gave me new hope and helped fill the hollow space in my heart.

Years later I sat in my living room watching a documentary on kids who age out of the foster system. The narrator explained when these children turn eighteen they’re often simply told, “You’re on your own.” The story touched me deeply and when people asked if we’d considered adoption I started answering, “If I adopt, I’ll choose a twenty-year old.”

One time when I gave the response above a friend of mine asked, “Have you heard of Saving Grace?” It turned out a transitional living home for foster girls aging out of the system was being started right there in my town. I connected with the founder, Becky Shaffer, and when I told her my dream she didn’t look at me like I was crazy.

Although our lives were busy, Becky and I stayed in touch. The week of my thirty-sixth birthday she invited me to attend a banquet celebrating the accomplishments of the girls living at Saving Grace. God had impressed on my heart that my word for the next year of my life was to be love. And the night of the banquet I met my daughter: Lovelle.

How old was she? Twenty, of course.

Over the last year and a half we’ve become a family. She calls me “Mom” and my husband “Dad.” It turns out she’s a writer, speaker and dreamer too—which neither of us knew when we first connected. Those gifts were buried under years of abuse, surviving and even being homeless. But now they’re blooming like a sunflower. She married a wonderful guy in January so we now have a “son” too.

Do I know why I went through years of infertility or why Lovelle spent so much time without a family? No … and I won’t in this life. But I do know this: God is a relentless Redeemer. He took all the hurt we experienced and transformed it into joy we never expected.

God was not ignoring us. He was not overlooking our hearts. He was not holding out on us while giving everyone else what was good. Instead He was working the entire time to bring us to His very best.

Mother’s Day can be painful. Perhaps like me you’re in the middle of infertility. Or you might be pursuing an adoption that’s more difficult than you foresaw. Maybe you’re single and wondering if having the family you dream of is even possible. Wherever you are today, I want to whisper this to you … God is with you and He is for you. He will not leave the true desires of your heart unfulfilled; the answers just may look different than you planned.

All those single pink lines on pregnancy tests turned out to be lines in a love story. And I wouldn’t alter God’s ending for anything.

Lovelle & Holley

(Holley Gerth is a Wall Street Journal best-selling author, encourager and life coach. She’d love to have coffee with you. Until then, you can find her here or subscribe to her free devotionals. You can read Lovelle’s blog here.)

 

If you can relate to Holley’s post today, you’ll love her books! Today we’re giving away 5 bundles of What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days, and a necklace from the Proverbs 31 Ministries Faith collection.

Read the book for encouragement. Wear the necklace as a reminder that we can trust and believe in our faithful God.

HGbookandnecklace

To be entered to win, leave a comment below with how this post encouraged you.