Not-so-fun lessons

IMG_1566If you know me, you know that I like when things are fun. The more fun something is, the better! 

And, today, I had to learn a not-so-fun lesson…

 

I had to bite my tongue and walk away from some unnecessary rudeness that was directed towards me. 

What I wanted to do was react–I was angry!

What I chose to do was to walk away and to forgive.

Everything within me wanted to lash out. The words were right there, aimed and ready to be fired.

Honestly! I’m a student at Rhema! I sit under the Word for 3 hours a day. And I can’t control my tongue? 

It was this thought that stopped me from doing something stupid, from tearing someone to shreds over nothing, really. The lady was being herself and I know her heart was not to send me into a frenzy. 

Why am I sharing this story?

Because words matter and reputations are ruined in minutes. 

And here’s a reason even better than not making yourself look like a fool:

Every person matters. Tearing someone down is destroying what God says is most important. 

This is why the Bible talks a lot about how to interact with others–and giving someone a piece of your mind is not one of God’s instructions.

Now, let me throw the grenade, the thought that had me repenting pretty fast: 

How many times have I been forgiven for being careless with my words? 

BOOM!!!!

Put down your weapons, Audra. This is no time to attack.

Some lessons are not fun to learn. The sooner you learn them, though, the sooner you can get back to helping and loving others, which is the most fun you and I will ever have. 

 

 

Share your story

I want to share a praise report with you…

A father and daughter were reunited because my dad shared our story with the father. 

The father is watching our video series to help him navigate this new relationship. 

And a couple of other men are now encouraged to reach out to their abandoned children, too. 

I am incredibly humbled by this news, especially since sharing this part of my life has been a stretch for me.  
Thank the Lord for allowing my dad and I to help others. God gets all of the glory because it’s only by His grace any of this happened. 

Abandonment is a big issue in our world. A growing percentage of children are being ditched by the people who are supposed to love them the most. 

Sadly, most of them see God as another bad parent and walk the other way. 

One of the biggest desires of my heart is to help these hurting children–child and adult alike–see the love of God for them. 

The revelation of God’s love will heal the wounds of broken hearts. 

The power of redemption is best expressed through the narratives of redeemed and restored lives. 

I encourage you to share your story and watch how God uses it to change lives. 

The things left undone

Many years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to the Book of Common Prayer. I must admit that it didn’t take at first…

Everyone saying the same prayer?

The entire gathering scripted from beginning to end?

The notion seemed backward and antiquated. 

(I’m thankful the Lord forgives us for our ignorance.)

Eventually, I understood the value of this style of worship. I fell in love with the poetry and the historicity of liturgical literature. 

Here’s my favorite prayer:

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent, for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.

What’s been left undone can haunt me. We’ve talked a lot about what it means to be enough. 

The things left undone can send me spiraling into “I’m not enough” faster than anything else. 

Friend, you’ll never be enough on your own. If you could do that Jesus’ sacrifice would be unnecessary. 

Do the best you can right where you find yourself. There’s grace for where you falter. 

There’s nothing wrong with recognizing your own limitations or acknowledging areas that need improvement. That’s why the above prayer speaks to me so much. 

I need help, I mess up, but my confidence remains firm in a gracious God who equips me to do all things. 

Grace is the greatest motivator

“But for the grace of God” is one of my favorite phrases to describe how blessed I am. 

Paul was the first person to use this verse as an explanation of his life and ministry:

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (‭‭I Corinthians‬ ‭15:10‬). 

In this verse Paul was talking about who he was because of the grace of God. The phrase I grew up hearing talks about who we’d be without the grace of God. 

Either way, the greatest common denominator is grace. 

Grace is the best motivator. 

Nothing empowers you toward change, toward action like the undeserved gift of grace. 

I try my best to see everything through this lens, especially as I hang out with non-Christians. They need to see that grace is for them. 

Do you remember what life was like before Christ?

Do you remember the patience and mercy of God during that time?

How often we forget where we started. I know that I’m guilty of this mentality. 

As a child, I was reminded quite regularly of how fortunate I was to end up on top despite of the abandonment of my parents. 

And it’s true. 

I should’ve been placed in foster care. 

I shouldn’t have graduated from college. 

I should’ve ended up impoverished or inprisoned. 

The statistics were not in my favor.

But for the grace of God…

Redemption and restoration is found through grace. There is hope for the seemingly hopeless. 

Christ in us is the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27) and Christ is full of grace and truth (John 1:14). 

This is what makes the gospel such wonderful news. 

 

Compelling Love

I’m reading Tortured for Christ and it’s an inspirational and eye opening book. 

The cruelties inflicted on Christians in communist countries are evil beyond compare because, as Richard Wurmbrand says, the presence of evil in it’s darkest state was seen in the eyes of their torturers. 

  The love of Christ, though, is greater than all evil. 

What’s amazing to discover is that the Christians never hated, belittled, or backstabbed their tormentors. 

The grace and love of Christ compelled them to see these men as who they could be. 

All around the world, persecuted Christians share this same view. 

I want to follow their example. I want to love others with the pure love of Jesus. 

The level of selflessness expressed by my persecuted brothers and sisters calls me to action, challenges my apathy. 

If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it. 

Go to The Voice of the Martyrs website to request the book (it’s free). 

When comfort doesn’t come

I struggle with being assertive.

Being nice? Having fun? Keeping things light and fluffy?

Welcome to my comfort zone or my discomfort zone, depending on the day.

Lysa TerKeurst says it best:

Having a comfort zone doesn’t mean you’re always comfortable.

I’m being stretched in this area at work. Accountability in the work place, especially for those of us in management positions, means holding meetings to discuss progress.

Guess who’s the bearer of bad news?

Yeah. Fun-loving Audra.

And most of the time it’s not terrible news. Managers are just trained to notice things that are not going well–and then come up with strategies for improvement.

I’ll be really honest with you. I have to pray a lot when receiving instruction and correction. When my thoughts are allowed to go off alone, I take it personally–and even my controlled thoughts find me vulnerable.

Receiving instruction with grace is always a choice I have to make.

This is one struggle that can send my emotions and relationships into a tailspin. One of my goals for next year is to deconstruct this area and come up with a battle plan.

IMG_1566For now, though, I’m sitting in a hard place. Things have gone wrong and all I can do is clean up the mess.

Can I give you some advice?

Don’t ignore warning signs.

Don’t put off conversations.

Pretending everything is okay, will be okay, can be okay is not helping.

Which brings me back to being assertive in the workplace…..

If management teaches you anything it’s how to conquer fear, especially when your fear pops up as a subject in a meeting about your personal performance.

Here’s what I’m learning as I face up to my insecurities about giving/receiving instruction and correction:

Dealing with a problem is always uncomfortable. Stop waiting for comfort to come along. It won’t.

An amazing and sustaining grace

Many of the bloggers I enjoy following are so bold. They take fierce stands on hard topics and ride the criticism like surfers ride waves.

I’ve deleted everything 5 times today.200 words here, 150 words there. The thought of hitting publish made me queasy.

Playing it safe is a hard trap to escape.

How many times have we talked about being bold? Being unafraid? Not hiding?

Your fearless leader was a coward today.

She cried over what to make for dinner. Seriously. This happened. When told to put something together for dinner I freaked out. The need for approval and the fear of rejection collided in the perfect storm.

Over dinner.

Today is not the first time I’ve struggled with words and dinner either. Today is simply the first time I’ve had the courage to talk about it.

Dear Friends,

I have a hard time making choices without a plan and saying things without fearing the opinions of others.

Sincerely,

Tired-of-being-scared Audra

Yesterday I talked about Bold Christians vs. Sissy Christians. (Insert face palm.)

Sorry about that…

I strongly agree with what I said, but you need to read today’s post for a much needed addendum.

It’s hard to be a Bold Christian when you cry over dinner planning. (This is what’s been haunting me all day.)

But remember what I said about grace for the lost?

Grace is for Christians too. There are no double standards with Jesus.

Look at Romans 5:

10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

If grace and love is available while we were sinners, grace and love will sustain us even more when we become Christians.

Learning how to extend grace to yourself can be hard. We see our fallacies and failures so clearly. Remember, though, that grace gives us new vision–for others and for ourselves.