keepin’ it real {pt 1} – you are not my competition

iPhone-Backup-Sept-6-1481

{Lots of photos in this post, just to warn you. Prepare for your computer screen to be picture-bombed.}

Something that’s been on my heart and mind lately –how often are we so quick to judge others, but yet not so quick to show grace? For me at least. It’s so easy to jump to conclusions when I see a mother with screaming, crying, misbehaving kids at the store, or other things. I found this post via a friend from Facebook, and it completely satisfied my tangled-up thoughts about this.

A beautiful post by Becky Thompson:

It was 5:15, and I was finally making it to the grocery store. I just needed to grab a few things, and since I had no clue what I was going to make for dinner… a frozen pizza was added to my list. There is only one grocery store in our small town, and I anticipated that everyone getting off work would also be grabbing last minute dinner items as well.

Furthermore, I was breaking the code.

iPhone-Backup-Sept-6-069

Rarely do you see another stay at home momma at the grocery store at 5:15. Do you know why? If you learn anything as a stay at home momma, it is to get grocery shopping done early when the children are at their best.  Should you somehow not make it to the grocery store by late afternoon, you should probably just order take out… because the trip is NOT worth it!

I knew what I was up against.

My prayer on the way in… “Just let this go quickly, Lord. Frozen Pizza. Milk. Bread. Trashbags. Bleach. No fits… no drawing attention to ourselves… just in and out.”

Can you hear Jesus laughing?

Every single person walking in enters in front of everyone checking out. The store is set up for some great entertainment really. On this day, the check-out lines were packed. All eyes were on us as we spilled through the doors – my kids already screaming about who got to sit where in the cart.

Yes. Two very loud toddlers and their momma (decked out with a dysfunctional pony tail and   t-shirt accessorized with crusted blueberry oatmeal) were met by slacks, business skirts and dozens of disapproving eyes.

I smiled a, “Hey, I have kids, and I have survived until 5:15, and my husband is almost home, and I still don’t have dinner started,” smile and continued my mission. “Frozen Pizza. Milk. Bread. Trashbags. Bleach. No fits.”

I should take this time to mention that I am pretty sure there is an understood grocery cart speed limit. This falls under the non-spoken rules of appropriate social behavior. You can wander. You can stroll. You can even walk briskly, but running…. Eh, well, running is pretty much not okay.

On this day, I was running.

So, let’s recap.

I’m a mess. My kids are screaming that they want pop and candy and cupcakes and in between the “no’s!” I am repeating “Frozen Pizza. Milk. Bread. Trashbags. Bleach. Frozen Pizza. Milk. Bread. Trashbags. Bleach.” Old makeup under my eyes, breakfast on my shirt, hungry kids in the grocery store at 5:15 announcing loudly that they “are starving!” …. and I’m running. We are failing miserably on the do not draw attention to ourselves part of my prayer.

I screeched to a stop next to the frozen pizza and did my own Chinese fire drill around the cart grabbing the pizza and throwing it underneath as I ran back towards the handle and took off again…

It was then that I met eyes with her and her disapproving glare. She was one of those women who looked like she had been up since 5 am with her makeup on and her husband’s breakfast made before he even got out of bed.

It could have been the running, or the oatmeal on my shirt, or the fighting screaming toddlers, but no matter what caused her to give me that look – it was on purpose. I knew it, and so did she.

So, I smiled at her, grabbed the final item on my list, and made it to the checkout lines.  I had survived an overall successful shopping trip.

As I drove away, I could not imagine what that woman thought of me. Or how she might have looked at me if my appearance had been different – or my actions had been different-or if my kids had acted differently.

She judged what she saw without seeing… me.

We do this a lot don’t we ladies?

We hope and pray that others will have grace for us, while quietly categorizing and labeling and making split-second judgments of every other woman we encounter.

The silent smile and size-up.

We don’t even mean to do it… well… maybe that’s not true…. Maybe we have just done it for so long that we don’t even notice we are doing it anymore.

And really… it’s awful.

So here is my promise:

I promise not to form opinions of you with your beautiful make up and your disapproving looks if you could try not to judge me by the 5 minutes that you observed in the store. Deal?

I will not judge you when you when you walk into the restaurant in your pajamas at 5:30 with a baby on your hip without knowing your story.

I promise to understand that when I see you snap at your kids in public there are likely hours of love and gentle parenting that I do not see.

And I will appreciate the grace that you give me when I drop my kids off at school in the jeans that I grabbed from my bedroom floor and the shirt that I had to sniff to see if it was clean.

I will make every effort to see… you. Not a quick tally of everything I can take in about you in just a few seconds…Not my competition… But my comrade in the trenches of life as together we find our way towards grace…

Because you are just like me.

The single woman who does not have children and the veteran momma 5 times over…

The woman who yelled at the waiter or the gal who went out of her way to help the older man at the store…

You who homeschool or public school or private school…

You who breastfeed or bottle feed…

The woman who ran into dollar general in her pajama pants and the woman who held the door for her in her cardigan and boots…

You who bought your kids the toy they demanded and the woman who took blows from toddler fists as she walked away from the toy aisle with screaming children…

The woman who spends her day filing papers and the woman who spends her day re-filling sippy cups…

You single women praying to meet a godly man and you women who are knee deep in married memories…

You are all just like me – daughter of the Most-High God, beautifully and wonderfully made, created by the King of Kings, loved by the Lord of Lords, precious, powerful, His!

The next time I see you in the store I promise to remember that you are nothing less.

I pray that the Lord would give me a heart to see you – not a sum of the parts of your day… but you… right in the middle of it … and I pray that you all might be able to do the same for me.

oh, to be the girl who has no grey dots or stars

DSC_0357

I’ve been having dreams that I am accused of something I didn’t do. And that I care. A lot. Even though I knew my conscience was clean before God, I still feared what they thought of me.

And I woke up realizing that I live that fear, day in and day out.

I care more than I say I do. And why? I really don’t know.

“So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear;

what can man do to me?'”

{hebrews 13:6}

Why does it even matter, really? It shouldn’t.

0945f01f4662ee6be0c8f5f0d6cb5fe0

My identity is found in Christ alone, I am NOT defined by other people’s expectations or accusations. I am a child of the Most High God, given grace, love, worth, and an inheritance that can never be taken away.

Why should I be afraid when someone thinks I’m too “weird” or “boring”, or even if I’m accused of thinking or doing something I had no part of?

I love this quote from Raquel’s post:

“I used to be so concerned about what people think and tell others about me.  But as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that people can be really mean sometimes.  And people give up on you and your friendship.  And people who you used to love suddenly think of you as an enemy.  And you have to move on from them and everything you thought they were.  And realize that God had put them in your life for only that short season.  And pray that during that time, you could’ve somehow shown them just a glimpse of God’s love.”

e8da033aa846ad6d46ac0daf4f4da6a5

I look at the people around me in my daily life — some who are (symbolically) covered in stars, and others with dots, and it’s so easy to become part of the system, judging others, or being discouraged because you’re not “good enough”, “funny enough”, “smart enough”.

But it’s about time that I break out of the system.

Will you?

here.

054e492dbde68fd0a2c0c3363fcafb22

A post by Ariel, from HeartsFire for Christ.

He is here. 

Blank screen, pulsing line. Cursor.
He is here.
Not scolding in the past, or waiting in the future, but here.
Now. 
And more loving than the world and bigger than life and more real than the ground under my feet.
Unimaginable. 
Do you comprehend that word? Unable to be imagined. 
Let that sink in a second.
 
Because the ground under my feet is only holding me up with the attraction of minuscule molecules, one to another, keeping wood particles whole.
He holds those molecules together.
And He is here. 
 
Can you imagine someone more real than reality, a fifth dimension, ten thousand new colors and bigger than the biggest universe? 
And He holds those molecules together, under my feet.
And He is here.
“I am,” He said. 
He is. 
He is not “I was,” nor “the great I will be” 
“I am who I am.”
Because the only thing that’s real right now is something that is here. In this moment. 
He is. Here. Now. Holding together the molecules under your feet and loving you more than you could ever comprehend. 
Let that sink in a second.
 
And if the Great I Am is here, holding together wooden floors and loving and being Himself – ginormous and brilliant and stronger than strong and infinitely, wondrously, good – then who are we to fret and question and worry and complain? 
He is here. 
And that is enough. 
 
 

let. it. go.

59b8dec421f8a5889d15172f374cc4ee

When those we love hurt us, it leaves our emotions raw and gaping, gasping for air. It scars our hearts, our memories. It scars our friendships and it sometimes even leaves us with an injured outlook on life, on people.

And we just can’t forget.

But whatever happened to ‘forgiving those who trespass against us’? Does the Lord really expect us to show grace to those who do us harm?

There once was a girl who wondered the same thing, after the time of war in Germany and that evil man who would crush & torture God’s people. And this is her story …

“It was in a church in Munich that I saw him—a balding, heavyset man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken, moving along the rows of wooden chairs to the door at the rear.

It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives.

{read the rest here!}