Tag Archive: forgiveness

“SCARY STORIES”

We sat around the table after dinner, reminiscing. I recalled the time a friend of mine scared my little brother and his friend, who were home alone. Mom and Dad had an invitation out. Before I left for a youth group sing, I wrote down the number where I could be reached. “Call me if you need anything.”

About half an hour into our evening, the phone rang at the home where we met. “That’s for me,” I said as I walked toward the telephone. Sure enough, it was little Bob.

"our protection"

“our protection”

“We’re scared,” he started out. “Mark and I are sitting on the couch with the big black scissor.”

“What are you doing?”

"Telling each other ghost stories"

“Telling each other ghost stories”

“Telling each other ghost stories.”

“Well, cut it out.”

I continued, my heart touched by the picture of these two youngsters sitting side by side with a big black scissor as their protection. That in itself was frightening.

“Do you want me to come home?”

“Well,” said Bob’s young voice, “I don’t want to inconvenience anyone.”

“I’ll be home in five minutes,” I responded as I pulled out my car keys. I chuckled as I told Jim what had happened and that I was heading home.

I pulled into the driveway and walked into the house to pull two little boys into my arms. I put the big scissor out of the boys’ reach, put my pj’s and long robe on and calmed them with (what else) chocolate cake and ice cream. Suddenly both boys’ eyes widened and they pointed outside. “I heard something,” one said.

“Stay right here,” I demanded. Then I took the big black scissors and went out the front door – a pathetic figure walking past the bushes brandishing this crazy tool of destruction. “Who’s out here?”

I reentered the house and the boys were jumpy. “Up there,” and they pointed to the stairway. Now I was getting scared. I slowly walked up the steps, telling the boys to stay where they were. (Why didn’t I just call the police?) As I walked past my parents’ bedroom, Jim jumped out and grabbed me from behind.

“Do you know how close you got to being stabbed by a big, dull scissor?” I asked. “Don’t you ever scare these boys again. You can scare me (yeah, right–like I’m invincible), but not them. Now YOU calm them down.”

Jim settled the boys and put them to bed.

Memories–this a fond and funny one in retrospect; some are painful; some heartwarming. But all are a part of the fabric of our lives. This one showed me my own God-given protective instinct over those I love. It also taught me something about the value of forgiveness and communication and laughter with a friend who might terrify my little brother but then spend time calming him and helping him feel secure again.

What memories do you carry?

Do they set you free or do they hold you back?

2014 Christmas Past

cloud resizedWe are now in 2014 Christmas Past. I’ve taken a short break from my blog but am back. How’s your celebration been? Have you enjoyed time with family and friends? Spent time alone, whether lonely or simply alone?

We’ve had a full month. Since Don and I weren’t hosting any Christmas get-togethers at our house, we scheduled our hardwood floors to be sanded and refinished. That required our moving everything out of cupboards, drawers, off walls and floors. The floor men moved our large furniture but the small pieces took a lot more time. And since we couldn’t walk on the floor while the work was being done, we also had to move ourselves, our two dogs, and anything we would need for a week up to the guest house.

Being there was good. We realized a few things we hadn’t put in place for guests and have remedied those. We pulled the love seat out to face the TV and cuddled in front of the electric fireplace insert/heater Don bought, warming both our hearts and bodies. Then our granddaughter asked whether her best friend and baby could use the guest house the weekend we were celebrating with the Loewen clan. Don and I looked at each other. “And WHY did we decide to have this work done right now?” We had to say no and stay in the guest house for a few extra days ourselves.

But good times proliferated. Our Froese family Christmas was very early, December 6th, because Arn and Carol, my brother and sister-in-law from Kansas, were here then. Our niece Jennifer graduated from nursing school (yeah Jenn!). Then on the 21st, we had a lovely get-together with the Loewens at Dan’s (Don’s oldest son), after which our two youngest local grandsons spent two days with us. We played SkipBo in the cozy living room in the guest house and most of us won at least one game.

Best of all has been the focus on Christ’s coming to earth. He invaded our space; he entered our universe for the purpose of having a relationship with us. All glory to God, who has given us this unspeakable gift, the privilege of knowing Him, of receiving His love, forgiveness, and the promise of eternal life. He has also given us hope for life in this world. Life isn’t easy; but He has promised never to leave us nor forsake us.

In the coming year I’d like to focus on new ways to share God’s love and grace with others. I hope to listen more, to consider my words’ impact before speaking, and to find practical ways to help those around me. One day Jesus will reign and the world will be at peace because of the justice He brings. Meantime let’s work to be agents of that peace in our world today, whether that’s in helping the needy or staying away from unproductive arguments about politics.

These are my thoughts as we end this year. I’d love to hear what you’re thinking and dreaming of as you look ahead into 2015.

Grace, God’s Grace

I feel bound. Working in a ministry with legalistic leadership, I had lost the joy in service and felt only anxiety and tension. Some mornings it was all I could do to get up and go to work. Many evenings I cried myself to sleep, praying “Lord, please hold onto me. I have nothing with which to hold onto you right now.”

This is one of the results of legalism that our pastor spoke about last weekend. Loss of joy, feeling like I need to “work harder” to please Christ, wondering if I’m following God’s plan for my life or someone else’s.

At the time, I felt my leader was asking things of me that God was not asking … signing a vow to commit to a somewhat nebulous goal (“Sign it or leave” – but where would I go? I wasn’t prepared to leave this organization I had helped establish); telling me I should not attend the church I did because they would pull me away from the ministry…not from Christ, but from the ministry.

I Tried Harder

I signed the vow. I went to the church where most of the staff worshiped. Sermons were excellent. But I missed my old fellowship and friends, and resented being told where to worship. If I didn’t follow the unwritten rules I was considered rebellious. I was told I “should” have joy. But I didn’t.

Legalism and my response to it resulted in some severe health problems. Finally the leader suggested that, since we had worked together for ten years, I take a month to rest. Before meeting him at the end of that month, I went to Yosemite to read and pray and seek God’s will. I didn’t hear a voice; I didn’t get a clear direction. What I did sense was that God was giving me a choice, with the assurance that He would be with me regardless of what I elected to do. I chose to leave that organization, but it took several years for my spirit and body to recover.

That’s a clear picture to me of the difference between legalism and grace. One said “You haven’t done all we required.” (You’re a disappointment. You failed.) It’s all about control.

Jesus said “What would you like to do, my child?” Grace is a free gift, unmerited favor with God. Wow!

In Galatians 5:1 Paul says “So Christ has really set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” (NLT)

My husband is very gracious. He pulls my car out of the garage and next to the side door on cold mornings so that when I get into the vehicle it’s already warmed up and ready to go. He often empties the dishwasher first thing in the morning, before I’m up. He starts the laundry if I’m out for the day. But he does these things because he loves me amazingly, not because someone put a list up saying “Do this and that and the other …” These are acts of love, not of duty. There’s a huge difference between the two.

Isaiah 30:15 states “The sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says, ‘Only in returning to me and waiting for me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength.’ …” That reads to me like grace, not legalism – not “doing,” but resting, waiting, basking in the love of God, and then responding in love.

I’m still learning about grace. How about you? Are there areas where you feel bound rather than free? I’d love to hear from you.

Resentment, a Reverse Poison

After a brief hiatus during which Don and I travelled to Spain and Portugal, I pondered on several topics. I’m glad to be back and hope you’ll provide feedback for this post.

Lying in bed, I thought of the people who would travel with us. One woman had offended me on a prior trip. I had forgiven her. However, as I prayed I realized I still felt a tinge of resentment toward her.

“I don’t want that Lord,” I confessed. “Will you please remove that bitterness from my heart.”

When I saw her the next morning, I flinched momentarily. I had a choice to make, since she hadn’t yet seen us. By God’s grace I chose to greet her with a smile. And she, against whom I had carried a small grudge, responded with warm words of affirmation. We’re enjoying talking and kidding around. It feels good.

When I ask the Father for help He is so very willing to respond, to make me more like Himself. I trust that little bit of resentment will be fully uprooted and spirited away forever.

Someone once said holding onto resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other guy to die.

Are you holding onto any bitter roots or pungent little shoots? Will you ask God to give you a heart of forgiveness and grace toward that person and allow Him to free you of bitterness?

“Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind).” Ephesians 4:31.