Winter’s Here, But Spring is Coming

Like other parts of the Midwest, Spring is coming late this year on the Back Forty.  As I write, the calendar says wSpring has arrived, but snow is pelting the window. I’m a whiner about March anyway, so the late spring has made me a Champion Whiner.  {Trophy, please.}

There’s one difference, though.  I know it will end.  Rules of Mother Nature don’t lie.  Spring will always begin on March 20 even though it might be snowing.  I have faith and trust in the fact that March 20 means things are changing in the Earth even though the circumstances and snow around me say different.   Snow on March 20 and February 20 are different because one is in season and the other is not.  In March, I know better days are eminent.

Life and faith are similar.

There are times where circumstances around us dictate something contradictory to the Truth we know.  I mean the One and Only Truth – Jehovah God, Christ the Messiah, and the Holy Spirit.  Spiritual truth is relative depending on who you talk to, just like spring seems relative when snow pelts the ground trying to wake up.  But just as the rules of science say March 20 is Spring, the Word of God says God’s character is:

  • gracious
  • compassionate
  • slow to anger
  • abounding in love
  • loving
  • merciful
  • kind
  • patient
  • forgiving
  • holy
  • just
  • the list can go on.

When your world is dark and harsh snow is pelting in your face, what gives you hope?  When walking in the dark the other day and cold snow was stinging my cheeks, I despised the circumstances, but I had hope it would not be this way forever.  I knew it was Spring, despite what the weather said.  I knew sunshine, warm weather, and new growth would be here.  I believed the truth I knew regardless of what I was experiencing.

Cross and BibleThe more you get to know God’s character through His Word, through prayer, through petition, trust, and faith, the easier you can stand on the Truth of Who He is when storms surround you.  A.W. Tozer says, “What comes to our mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us” (The Knowledge of The Holy, cited by Steven Furtick in Sun Stand Still, Multnomah Press).   Are you able to despise stormy circumstances while being hopeful in the Truth of God?

There have been difficult deaths in my circles lately.  Difficult storms of life that don’t seem to end.  When my own world came crashing down several years ago, shattering all images of God I knew up to that point, I could stand on one truth I knew, the character of God and promises of His word:

  • He would never leave me or forsake me.
  • He is good.
  • He loves me. 
  • He is personal.
  • He is sovereign.
  • He is trustworthy.
  • He is not defined by my circumstances.

Do you need to know these truths?  As you seek Him in His word, you will find Him and his personal care for your situation.  Just as new life is pushing through the ground in the season of Spring, new growth and life are ready to burst through your situation even though the storms say, “Not Happening.” 

God does not change, just as the first day of Spring doesn’t change when there’s snow on the ground.  I challenge and encourage you to know Him in new ways that go down deep into your soul.   Shallow faith gets crushed when life’s storms come out of season.  But deep, trusting faith in His character is what sustains life when the dark, crushing elements invade your life.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Spring is here and So is Jesus.

Neither change,  Both are constant. No matter what the weatherman says.

Where do you need to believe that truth?

Blessed is the one…..whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither….. Psalm 1:1-3 (portions) NIV

{Dis}Courage

Does it feel like sometimes there’s a big, thick wall surrounding you, isolating you from all that is good on the other side?

I call this wall discouragement.  I don’t like it.

Are you discouraged?  What are the bricks in the wall surrounding you today?MP900049425

In discouraging moments, it seems like God is far, far away.

Far away on the other side of the wall.

No matter how you cry, scream or wail, it’s though He doesn’t hear.

There’s silence.

That’s where the discouragement lies – in the silence.

I’ve been surrounded by a silence lately in the midst of noise.  Can you relate?  The world is SO noisy yet what I long to hear most from is my heavenly Father.

I need encouragement.  Do you need encouragement?

I was blessed by a blogging friend as I read her post of discouragement (read it here) today.   I’ve been blessed by the faith of friends who are fighting for the life of their child.  People who refuse to stand, look at the wall, and give up.

I looked into the eyes of a young teen this week who was discouraged.  She was crushed, shot down, and believed she might as well follow the path of what an adult said she was going to become.

I poured into her the hope of her future, the possibilities ahead of her, her own skills, and the shortcomings of others. I saw the countenance on her face change, lifted from discouragement to hope.  She smiled.

Discouragement is a thief of courage.  {Dis} Courage.

It robs us of the truths we know in our hearts.  Truths about situations, people, and God.

Discouragement is a tool of the enemy to make us feel isolated from the goodness we can’t see behind the thick wall of silence.  He builds the wall high so we can’t see what is on the other side.

Courage is refusing to believe the lies discouragement tells us about a situation, people, and God.

Courage scales the walls and shouts with joy at the top when it sees things on the other side.  It has a different perspective.  Do you need a different perspective?

queen of the world

Courage sees good things and believes truths we knew all along, but could not see.

Where do you need courage today?  Will you climb the discouragement wall with me?  I need a partner.  I need an army of like-minded folks to scale big walls that seem impossible to climb on my own.  Will you be my partner?

MP900262450Together, we gain courage to scale the wall of discouragement to gain a different perspective and see truths from the other side.

Won’t you join me?

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12

What’s discouraging you this week?

The Notecard Series: Precious. Honored. Known

1-photo (4)-001

The Notecard Series are posts based on old, spiral-bound notecards I wrote statements I needed in front of me at all times.  As a stay-at-home mom, they perched on a window sill above my kitchen sink.  As a teacher, they sat on my desk.  Some days, they were words to cling to.

This faded, warped notecard says,

I have called you by name you are mine. You are precious and honored in my sight.” Isaiah 43

As a young twenty-something, mom of two preschoolers, these words were gold to me.  To this day, these words sink deep into my soul.  I come back to them to when insecurities, doubt, fear, and angst enters my being.  When do you feel insecure, have doubts, are gripped by fear, or feel messed-up inside?

God calls you by name.  

You are precious and honored in His sight.

 You are His.  Rubber Stamp

There are days I feel fragile, hit hard from outside and within. Days my value is shredded because I look to others to define it.  Do you have days like that? Weeks like that?  A life like that?

It means a lot to hear the God of the universe say He has “called me by name.”  I used to hate my name because I didn’t like the person attached to it.  Most of my life I’ve been ashamed of who I am, of who God made me.   Yet these words tell me I’m precious and honored in the sight of Him who created me, and so are you.  Precious, honored and known.  

We are His.

When I think of precious and honored things, I think of fragile differently.  Precious is something highly esteemed and valued.  So is honor.  Humans desire this.  We spend our lives trying to receive it.

Like a thick, lush robe put on the shoulders of a king, with a crown of sparkling gems, so is God’s wardrobe of honor He wants to dress us in.  He created each of us full of faults yet highly valued.  He knows everything about us {the good, bad, and ugly} and He calls us tenderly by the name He has given us.

A precious name with honor. 

Has someone devalued, disrespected or shamed you? Has doubt or fear lied to you saying you are not worthwhile?

God’s Word has  something  to say about that.

You are precious and honored in His sight,

He has called you by name.

You are His. 

Receive the robe of honor and the crown of royalty because it is who you are,

A Child of the King.

Precious.  Honored.  Known.

Dear Father, will you pour the fullness of who we are in You into our body, soul, and spirit?  Will you help each one reading these words  know they are not a mistake, that their value and identity is in who You say they are, not others?  Will you call each one by name and meet their needs in a way that lets them know you precious and honored they are. Thank you for knowing each one of us by name.

Amen.

In Him,

my signature

 

 

 

An honor from Ellie at http://newcreationsministries.wordpress.com/ for passing the Versatile Blogger Award my way.  She is committed to sharing healthy living at her site and she is a great encourager.  Thank you, Ellie.  Please stop by and visit her site.

This is an opportunity to share several blogs:the-versatile-blogger-award

These are just a handful of great blogs, there are many, many more. Encourage them by visiting if you get the chance.

The Cost

This is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us.  For God is greater than our hearts.  He knows everything.”  I John 3:19-20 (New International Version) 

This morning I’ve wasted time, in a stupor, mentally avoiding the things I need to do this week, a secret MP900443601rebellion against the stress of the life.  In the stillness of time with His Word, I am confronted not by distractions, but by overwhelming conviction and grace.

After reading Hebrews 10:5-10, I’m flooded with conviction, shame, and humility.  The passage speaks of the once and for all Sacrifice Jesus made so I can stand before a holy God.  This morning, the heaviness of what this means for me weighs on me.

I find it easier to accept Jesus’ death for “big sins,” but this morning I am confronted with the fact that the same sacrifice was made for deliberate, daily sins, ones often labeled “little sins.”  Of the lengthy list I could post, all are rooted in selfishness.  Something I’ve been keenly aware of in my own heart recently.

I’ve been reading I John lately.  It states that our heart condemns us before God, that He knows our motives (I John MP9003417123:16-24).  This shines a spotlight on my heart, and selfishness is the star. The heart does condemn. As I John 3:20 says, “God knows everything.”

Ouch.

But I deserve the pain.  I should feel the pain of using Jesus’ sacrifice for conditions such as selfishness. Selfishness in motives, in relationships, in “rights” that I want to justify.  They’re valid if I measured them against earthly standards saying, “There’s nothing wrong with that attitude – you deserve it!” But when I read Hebrews 10, I’m reminded that Jesus sacrificed all so I can have relationship with the Creator.  While He died for expensive sins, He also perished for cheap ones, like selfishness.  My selfishness is not worth someone else’s life.  Yet He paid it, in love.  No questions, no strings attached.

This humbles and convicts me.  Will I continue harboring selfishness at the cost of His life? He died so I may be holy in His sight.  Will I demand the privilege to use that costly payment for the “right” to be selfish?

I have unfinished business I need to attend to with a holy God before I continue with other business of the day.

I’m thankful I can go before the One who modeled unselfishness to the end.  It’s because of His sacrifice I can enter the presence of a loving, righteous God with a selfish, unclean heart.

Silhouettes of Three Crosses

That’s the gospel. No more words can be added. 

“Lord, Jesus, thank you for your costly birth and death.  Help each of us to weigh the heaviness of why you came and died.  May you transform our selfishness.”

The Notecard Series. Stains and All.

My own home made devotional cards.
My own home-made devotional cards.

This summer we moved desks around. In the process, I found three spiral bound notecard units.  I knew what they were.  When I was a young wife and mother, I made my own devotional by purchasing blank notecards on a spiral tab.  On these blank note cards, I wrote things I daily needed to be reminded of.   There are Bible verses, quotes from books I read, messages from the radio, principles from Bible Study Fellowship, or challenges God convicted me of.

Many of these principles have stuck with me for a lifetime, defining  my life in various ways.  Some that stick out:

While the list could go on, I’ve decided to share these water/sun/who-knows-what-else stained notecards with you in original form. I used to keep them on the window sill above my kitchen sink.  I figured it’s as authentic as it gets.  These words convicted me, gave me hope, challenged me as a young mother struggling to be God’s woman.  As I’ve photographed each one of them, tears fill my eyes as I know either the heartache or the victory over each one.  As I post this first picture, I realize my efforts to be the “picket-fence-woman” has resulted in a fence/life/testimony full of cracks.  Looking back on that young mother hearing Chuck’s words for the first time, I now know God does minister through cracks, scars, and brokenness.

So look for the Notecard Series of pictures both here and on my parenting posts at Not Alone Mom, or on Twitter or the Facebook page of Life Beyond the Picket Fence.  I know they are Pinteresty, but I haven’t figured out that venue yet.   One of these days Picket Fence will find Pinterest, but until then, be challenged, encouraged, and enjoy my humble, authentically stained devotional cards.

Complete with typos.  On the first one.

Welcome to my kitchen-sink world, cracks and all.

Woman washing up

Write them on the  door frames of your houses and gates.”  Deuteronomy 6:9

Inspiring Stories: Tanya’s Story

picture for BrendaI have the humble privilege to share Tanya’s Glanzman’s story of being an overcomer and survivor of childhood abuse, abandonment, and neglect.  Tanya is a remarkable woman.  She is a contributing writer for Circle of Friends Ministry each week and ministers to others through My Father’s Daughter Ministry.  as a speaker and writer.  She and her family live in Virginia.   Here is her story.

Both of my parents were addicted to both drugs and alcohol.  I had no recollection of my father who was my first abuser, and whose head my mother had put a gun to and told to “get out” when she caught him molesting me before age two.  I did however remember all too well my grandfather who was my last abuser and who killed himself ten days after I told that he had been molesting me for five years at the age of fifteen. He had always told me that if I MP900403070ever told he would die and it would be “all my fault”.  He was cruel, controlling and verbally abusive.

Between them I could remember five other men who had also sexually abused me.  Each taking from me what was not theirs, what they had no right to. These were men who had been invited by an addict into the life of an addict- and her daughter and who left their mark upon my life with the signature of the most horrendous offense of the soul.

We learned to be a team my mother and I.  She was a functioning addict and I was her caretaker, confidant and most trusted friend.  Not only did I learn what was required to take care of her well, but also became quite sufficient at taking care of myself.  The gifts which characterize childhood such as innocence, purity and irresponsibility were never mine to possess or unwrap. 

At nine years old, my mother and I came out of the most horridly abusive relationship and the last that we had ever survived together. We spent a year living in a hotel room with a man that we were both deathly afraid of.  We each endured ritualistic control, physical and sexual abuse and torture.  I spent the majority of this year locked in a bathroom day in and day out while my mother was forced to make choices in the adjoining room that no one should ever be forced to make.Housekeeping Cart in Front of Motel Room

It was after we were free from this situation that my mother had a complete breakdown and could no longer care for me.  With nowhere else to turn she abandoned me to her father and his wife.  I hadn’t previously known her father because they had been estranged from one another my entire life.  Their estrangement was due to the fact that my mother’s father was the very one that had molested her as a child.

Two months after I built up enough courage to reveal that my grandfather had been molesting me my mother married her fourth husband and moved out of the country with him.  When she found out what had happened she blamed me for not being more careful because she had warned me that my grandfather was dangerous.

The remainder of my growing up years were difficult to say the least.  The abuse that I had endured for so many years finally began to take its apparent toll on me.  I struggled with severe depression, self mutilation and bulimia.  I was hospitalized several times for repeated suicide attempts.  I was consumed with pain and inner turmoil and just wanted it all to stop.  I hated myself, was painfully lonely and longed to be loved. 

My mother and I maintained a strained and difficult long distance relationship. MP900444486As much as I longed for her to love me and be the mother I needed her to be, I began to hate her for all that she had failed to protect me from, all that she never had been and all that she was not able to be.  I never stopped wanting or needing a mother.   

When I was sixteen and a Junior in high school my mother had a second child… a girl.  Within my heart this was the ultimate betrayal.  Not only had I been rejected and abandoned, but I had now been replaced.  The root of bitterness within my heart towards my mother grew.

I came to accept the Lord within my heart as my Savior that same year and began to endeavor to learn of a Father who loved unconditionally, would never leave or forsake you and only offered His children good things. 

Despite my level of woundedness and mostly due to a desire to be different from that which I  came I successfully graduated from high school and began college.  At eighteen I met and at nineteen married my wonderful husband who had no idea that he was marrying a woman with which he would have to travel a most rigorous journey of healing.  Healthy communication, trust and intimacy were three necessities of marriage of which I had no ability to partake in.  His patient and enduring love helped him to stand beside me even in the most difficult of times.  We eventually had two beautiful children which I was told we would never be able to have due to the scars that remained from the hands of my abusers.

Over the years my mother continued to call me, usually however only when she was under the influence of drugs, or alcohol, or both.  Despite all of the abuse that I had endured it was the physical abandonment and emotional neglect of my mother that caused me the most pain, the most hurt and the most sadness.

The Lord had restored so many areas within my life that I was sure that one day he would as well heal and restore the relationship with my mother.  Unfortunately, in 2008, she passed away as a result of a drug overdose.  She never was able to receive the healing, restoration and redemption that the Lord had for her while she was upon this earth.

At this point I was a godly woman, I loved the Lord with my whole heart and I served Him as best as I could with my life. The truth however was that I had never been able to forgive my mother for all that she had done and all that she had failed to do.  The root of bitterness, un-forgiveness and even hatred remained in my heart for my mother. Her death was just one more abandonment, the final abandonment, and I could not deal with it.

Her second daughter was now 14 and was the one who called to tell me that our mother had passed away. I had purposefully never had relationship with her- within my heart she represented every ounce of hurt, rejection and abandonment that I had experienced at the hands of my mother.  I told her that I was sorry, I wasn’t coming to the funeral and that days later I told her father that I wasn’t interested in having relationship with her.

So I “moved on.” A few months after my mother’s death I began “My Father’s Daughter Ministries” and the Lord was faithful to begin to provide me opportunity to speak healing and truth into the lives of women.  Isn’t God faithful to use us even in our own process of healing and restoration?

It wasn’t until, through life giving truth that was offered to me in relationship with my Circle of Friends, that I was lovingly confronted with the hatred and un-forgiveness which remained locked away for my mother within my heart.

I was encouraged to take intentional steps to face and deal with those issues which had prevented me from walking in the fullness of freedom that Christ had for me.  A prideful heart hindered me longer than it should have from seeking out Christian counseling.  I wanted to be able to say “I did it- I Woman with Arms in the Airovercame- with just me and the Lord.”  But it was my Circle of Friends who helped me to understand that truly I was limping, not running, and that until I was willing to face that which I had not, and forgive, I would never be able to walk in all that the Lord had called me to. 

Nothing about the process of healing was easy. There were days when my heart hurt so very much that I just didn’t think I was going to be able to move forward one more step. But with the love and support of my husband and my Circle of Friends I was able to face, accept and grieve the loss of the mother that I never really had.  I was able to forgive her for what she was and what she never was.  And ultimately, I was led to find and begin to develop relationship with the little sister which anger and bitterness had never afforded me the privilege of knowing.

I am so thankful that the Lord has loved me too much to leave me where I was.  His faithfulness, mercy and grace within my life never fail to astonish, bless and humble me. I am so very thankful that He saw fit to allow me to encounter Circle of Friends… He used them to change my life.

Romans 2:11 states that God is no respector of persons. As God has been so faithful to be the Healer, Restorer and Redeemer of her own life, Tanya is blessed to have the opportunity to share the message that His desire is to be those very things to every woman who would have Him as their Father. As a speaker and writer through My Father’s Daughter Ministries, Tanya is thankful to have the opportunity to minister encouragement to the hearts of women destined to be loved by the King.

Ministry to Moms

When I was a young mom, I {knew} how I wanted to raise my family.  We started having children and my dream  began.

A strong-willed, temperamental child, a few more toddlers later, motherhood was not the the idyllic picture I originally had.  I often felt alone, wondering if I was the only mom struggling.  My friend’s children didn’t have open outbursts like Microsoft Clipartmy challenging one.  Why couldn’t I have a compliant child?  Was I the only mom who struggled with frustration, shame, guilt, and {anger}?

Unfortunately, our struggles compounded over the years.  We felt like we struggled alone for a long time.  We’ve been through a lot, but God has been good in replacing the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:22).  I’ve seen first hand the power of lives redeemed and overcoming adversity through perseverance and steadfastness.   I could write a parenting manual on “What Not to Do.”  But, through God’s grace, we’ve also discovered how to parent in the midst of difficulty.   We’ve learned things we would not have known if the going was easy.  We are still parenting.  Through our pain, we have grown and learned, and have been able to encourage others when the parenting road gets rough.

I began Life Beyond the Picket Fence a few years ago, reaching out to any one whose parenting or life experience was not the storybook image.  I figured if I felt alone, others may feel alone, too.  From that, this ministry has evolved.

I’ve had the privilege to meet another mom, Kristin Nelson, who has the same heart for mothers who feel alone in their walk.  Her ministry is focuses on reaching women, moms-in-the-trenches, who need encouragement.  She wants moms to know they are not alone.

I was that alone mom.  I needed a space like Not Alone Mom.

I have the privilege to join her ministry as a weekly contributing writer on parenting every Friday.  She, in turn, will be contributing here also.  Please read her complete bio here.Kristin Nelson

The ministry at Life Beyond the Picket Fence reaches a variety of people other than just moms.   Join me Fridays at Not Alone Mom for parenting posts and here on Wednesdays for parenting posts from myself and other writers.  It’s a privilege to join others who desire to parent well in the midst of real life challenges.  Together, we are not alone.

Also, visit My Catholic Blog for a mention of a past post on Raising Children in Favor with God and Man and other parenting tips.  Thanks, Janet, for the mention!

Blessings to you this day, this weekend, this New Year.

Brenda 

Raising Kids In Favor With God and Man

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52

BLYoder photoChristmas is over. Baby Jesus is born. It’s time to go on with our lives, our faith, go on with our families, and perception of the Christ.

God’s Word gives us few glimpses of Jesus between birth and age thirty. At the end the Christmas story in Luke 2, these tender words always bring wonder to my soul.

“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52

As a young mother, these words were the hope I had for my children. I wanted my girl and young boys to grow in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

I’ll be honest. Wishing your children will live as sincere, committed followers of Christ as kids and teens can be risky.  I’ve taught public high school.  It’s one thing to go to church and youth group, but it’s another thing to be a kid who really lives out your faith.  The whole be-kind-and-loyal-and-sexually-pure behavior is not the Microsoft clipartticket for being cool in high school. That’s not even throwing in the in the whole “I actually believe what they teach me at church” stuff.  Living this way can be a spiritual, emotional, and social death sentence. If you question that, spend a week in any high school as a fly on a wall. Then, let’s talk.

When my children were still young and pliable, I began praying Luke 2:52 over them at night. It wasn’t every night, but often.  My prayer? They didn’t need to be the coolest kids in school, but I hoped they would grow in maturity, stature (natural height, importance or reputation gained by ability or achievement) and in favor with God and others.

The secret prayer for my children is that they please their Father God and be respected by others.

The Message version of Luke 2:52 says, “And Jesus matured, growing up in both body and Spirit, blessed by both God and people.”

This is still my prayer as my children are coming of age and making choices for themselves when I’m not around. My teens have had their share of heartaches in their growing up years. We’ve had tears when doing what is right doesn’t pay off, where their eyes have been opened to favoritism, social cruelty and gross moral corruption. In those moments, my prayer has been for God to give them wisdom.  In moments where favor from God or man seems to be lacking, my prayer becomes that growth will take place.

In these moments I’m reminded raising children to be Christ-like does not involve simplicity.  Attending youth group and singing for the elderly is only part of it.  The deeper moments in raising children comes in modeling our reactions when favor and blessing don’t come.  It’s speaking words of forgiveness when words cut deep. It’s pointing them to a God who loves them and has their complete life in their hands when the in-the-moment-circumstances seem unbearable. To a child, preteen and teenager, these moments are real.

Raising Christ-like children also involves helping them understand the power of scripture, in praying to a God who hears and cares for their every need, and walking in the way of Christ, who endured heartache, betrayal, and sorrow. Between the Christmas baby and the Easter Savior, Christ was a boy and a man just like my child. Though He also was God, He lived, walked and breathed every trial we do. Even as a teenager.

Praying God’s word is powerful. As I see my older children reaching adulthood, I see God growing them in favor with Him and others. When The Lord allows me to catch a glimpse of this, I bow in humble praise because I know it is by hard work, constant faithful prayers, and God’s grace, that it is so. Parenting children in 2012 is not easy. Many days in past years I’ve wanted to give up, to go the easy route, or to give pat answers. But in Him, we have persevered. In Him, He’s carried us when the going was too rough. In Him, He answered the prayers at just the right time.  It’s His power, despite our failures.

Wisdom first.microsoft clipart

Then stature.

Favor with God first

Then man.

Wanting my children to be like Jesus means all of it.   It’s risky to pray this, but I’m thankful I have and I continue to do so. We’re still in the children raising business.  With each year, the prayers are more frequent. Looking at 2013, part of my heart is honestly scared for world my children are entering.  But I’m reminded, again, they’re not mine, but His.

Dear Father, in this coming year, will you grow each of our children in divine wisdom, in stature, and in favor with You and others?  Will you cause them to be an influence to those around them for Your honor and glory, being tangible examples of a God of grace, hope, and love in an increasingly fragile world?  Make our children strong for the future you have for each of them, that people will know Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

Relationship Survival During the Holidays

I received this poem in a Christmas letter from a high school friend in 2005. I’ve kept it all these years. When I was teaching, it was in my classroom. Now, it’s a wall hanging in my counseling office. It makes me strong.photo (14)

These truths are essential for the holidays as you gather with people who put you down, question your life decisions, give you that “You’ll never change” look or jabbing comment. The words provide strength as you contemplate making changes or reaching goals in the New Year.

I appreciate Mother Teresa’s wisdom because it’s REAL. It’s not a Pinterest photo with a cute cat giving warm fuzzies. It gives the real deal how-to’s for dealing with adversities in life, for dealing with people and situations I encounter every day.

  • Those people who are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered? Forgive them, anyway. Thank you for acknowledging that forgiveness does not mean their nature changes. It just makes me easier to relate to them.
  • If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Been there, done that. Why do people have to gossip and makes assumptions? Be kind anyway.
  • If you are frank and honest, people may cheat you. Or they might hold grudges, get back at you, lie to you, or stonewall you. Be frank and honest anyway.
  • What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight. Build it anyway. Don’t be afraid to take chances. When we step out in risk, God has the opportunity to work. Being comfortable isn’t always godly.
  • If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous. Why is that? Why can’t we truly be happy for one another? Be happy anyway.
  • The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow. Do good anyway. The most significant moments in heaven and on earth are the simplest moments in living. Build up treasures in heaven.
  • Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. We’ve always told our kids as long as they’ve done their best, that’s all that matters. Give the best you have anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it’s between you and God.

It was never between you and them, anyway.

Amen. May these words give you courage and balance this holiday season as you interact with others who are the “they’s” and the “them’s.” You’ll probably be in gatherings where people will expect more from you, be jealous of you, be unreasonable, may accuse you or forget the kindness you’ve shown in the last year.

Take a deep breath, remember whose you are, and whom you answer to. Smile, ask how they’ve been, and listen.

You’re building treasures in heaven.

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you; compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as your Father forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Colossians 3:12-14, The Message.