A Generous Grace

ideas on practical spirituality and loving each other

Month: April 2016

The Flipside of “Being Myself”

girls at party

There’s a scene that always makes me grin from the movie Hitch (you know, with Will Smith). Hitch is a dating consultant, coaching guys get the girls they’re crazy about. Here, he’s advising a client who’s purchased a recommended pair of shoes for his date.

Hitch: The shoes are hot. You went to the place I told you, right?

Man : Yeah, but I don’t think they’re really me.

Hitch : “You” is a very fluid concept right now. You bought the shoes. You look great in the shoes. That’s the you I’m talking about.

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The Necessity of Talking to Yourself (and Not Just Listening)

It’s pretty much the only time, I think, when I should talk more than I listen.

You’ve been, there, I know: times like my morning a few days ago, when I tucked my feet beside me on the back porch, cup of tea in hand–mind splintered, floating in a deluge of concerns. I’d curled up to pray, but prayers kept colliding with the flotsam in my mind. I felt adrift; perhaps even a bit unmoored. Pretty sure I was just staring for a good portion of the time.

dock talking to yourself

The psalmist’s words in chapter 42 and 43 bubbled to the surface: Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed in me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him.

Somehow I’m thankful that the writer took the time to know his soul well, but also took the initiative to tow it towards shore.

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Interview-Your-Child Fridays, #6

interview your child fridays

For the ideas and suggestions behind this fun series to help you connect with your kiddos, click here.

  1. What is one of your favorite ways God made you?
  2. If you could be famous for something, what would it be?
  3. If you could go back a year ago and give yourself advice, what would that advice be?
  4. If you could enter a comic strip or cartoon, which would you choose?
  5. What do you love about being a kid?
  6. What makes you excited about being an adult?
  7. What are five of the top songs on your playlist?
  8. What is one way you think people misunderstand you? What would you tell them if you could?
  9. Who is one of your heroes—and why?
  10. Describe the perfect meal.

And don’t forget, “How can I pray for you this next week?”

Check out the first four sets of interview questions here, here, here, here, and here. Have fun connecting with your kids!

 

Like this? You might enjoy

26 Super-practical parenting hacks

Surprising Parenting Advice I Can’t Live Without

5 Surprising Prayers for My Kids

6 Ways to Pray For Your Kids (when you actually want to tear your hair out)

31 Scriptures to Pray for Your Kids and 31 Ideas to Encourage Your Kid on a Bad Day

Free Ebook: Discussion Questions to Better Understand Your Family’s Subculture (use this subscription form!) 

 

If you like it, please share it! (And consider subscribing up there in the right hand corner.)

“Am I judgmental?”: Judgment vs. discernment

Say you’re walking down the street as a family. There on the sidewalk, an argument erupts at full volume between a couple you don’t know. She’s spewing vile obscenities and venemous accusations; he shoves and vehemently threatens her. Someone they know comes out to successfully intervene, but your kids’ wide eyes are brimming with questions. Do you

a. Cover your kids’ eyes with your free hands, and shoot the couple the evil eye as you stalk off. (Some people…! Get your act together, folks.)

b. Smile at the couple. Act like nothing happened.

c. Wait till you’re out of earshot, then mumble, “WHOA. What a jerk. And what a witch! How does he live with her?! If I ever see you kids acting like that…”

d. ?

Kids present or not, we joust with these situations daily, right? That teenager mouthing off to his mom in Target; the friend who gossips at our dinner table; the colorful language on prime time.

I’m guessing I’m not the only one wrestling with what values look like in light of compassion and mercy. Lately, we’re encouraged more to keep our own “version” of truth and values to ourselves: Your values are okay as long as they don’t interfere with mine.

But (work with me here) I actually see rich possibility in choosing to discern right from wrong. On my grace-filled days, running into someone else’s wrong is a chance to remember how much I’ve been (continue to be!) forgiven. How much the very air I breathe is grace. It’s a chance to play out all over again what God does for me.

You know the people who exude this, I think. They’re the people who make you feel…at home, I guess. Like you can take your shoes off and process life, even if you’re just meeting them on the street. They make you want to slide down your inner masks and examine what’s really going on under there.

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Interview-Your-Child Fridays, #5

interview your child fridays

For the ideas and suggestions behind this fun series to help you connect with your kiddos, click here.

In the spirit of keeping it real–I’ve included a smattering of my own four kids’ answers.

  1. What is your first memory?
  2. What are five words you’d use to describe yourself? Curious. / Child #2: Artistic. Playful. Reader. 
  3. What is one time you felt really great when helping someone? I liked helping with that big Thanksgiving party we threw–the one where all those people ended up staying for dinner, too. / Helping Oliver carry all the bags into the house.
  4. If you could invent something that hasn’t been invented yet, what would it be? A cake machine that makes cakes in five minutes! 
  5. What’s one thing someone has said to you that made you feel great? What do you wish someone would say? …I don’t know, but it was something great. / I like your drawing. It’s really cool.
  6. If you could be one character in a book, who would it be? I would be Benny from The Boxcar Children! / I would be a dragon in How to Train Your Dragon.
  7. What’s one of your favorite things about God? I love what He does for us and what He created. / I love that He forgives us when we do bad things. 
  8. If you could take lessons to learn anything, what would it be? I would learn how to do kung fu! (kick added for emphasis) / I don’t really want to learn much, so… / I would have to choose between hang gliding and sharpshooting.
  9. What’s been the biggest thing on your mind this week?
  10. What is one thing you really hope is in heaven? I really hope there is a rainbow slide without edges that ends in whipped cream with strawberries–and it doesn’t get too hot or too wet. / I hope we get to walk with God in heaven.

And don’t forget, “How can I pray for you this next week?”

Check out the first four sets of interview questions here, here, here, and here. Have fun connecting with your kids!

 

Like this? You might enjoy

26 Super-practical parenting hacks

Surprising Parenting Advice I Can’t Live Without

5 Surprising Prayers for My Kids

6 Ways to Pray For Your Kids (when you actually want to tear your hair out)

31 Scriptures to Pray for Your Kids and 31 Ideas to Encourage Your Kid on a Bad Day

Free Ebook: Discussion Questions to Better Understand Your Family’s Subculture (use this subscription form!) 

 

If you like it, please share it! (And consider subscribing up there in the right hand corner.)

God’s Will…and the Clarity I Don’t Have

gods-will-and-the-clarity-i-dont-have

We weren’t clearly “called” to Africa. That I know of.

 

Maybe God will correct my thinking in the future. But there my husband and I were in Little Rock, with four little kids (youngest two and a half), contemplating whether or not to, you know, sell 70% of our stuff and wheel our bags to a continent I was sure was just buzzing with malaria and typhoid. I say that—but honestly, I was thrilled. Africa is a dream come true, one I’d put on the shelf in the “maybe God will explain why” category of my mental Dewey decimal system. And as we discussed it, I don’t think I’ll forget what my husband said one night.

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When Success Means Sacrifice

This week, my parents are arrived in Africa! Though this is their third trip since we’ve lived here, it’s still fraught with so much giddiness and anticipation. Rather than living life together as we hoped, our time together seems scrunched into the few weeks every 18 months or so where we live in the same place, same continent.

I’m crazy-blessed with wise, gracious, sold-out parents who pour their lives out for Jesus. But I’m sure it mystifies them, as it does me, that their success as parents means their dreams of closeness to their kids are stacked together with their hopes for eternity.  I wrote this post for everthinehome.com awhile back, and it is gratefully used with permission.

Janel and Mom

 

It was past eleven this past Monday evening; my children’s fingers curled limply around the edges of their mattresses, and my husband contentedly read in our bedroom.

But my legs were crossed Indian-style on our thinning rug in the living room, the glow of a screen reflecting on my face: time to talk with my Mom, overseas in America. My four sisters and I are flung onto four separate continents around the earth’s axis.

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Real-life Motherhood Moments, #8

 

Real-life Motherhood Moments!

…Because there’s just too much real life not to share.

Me, to son: Dude, you’re not wearing underwear.
Him, loftily: I don’t follow the laws of my fellow man.

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Memos to myself: On the dangers of overcommitment

overcommitment

I’ve written before about this whole idea of our opportunities versus whether we’re actually called to do something. Oh—and about the true cost of my overcommitment.

And I’m happy to report that I have proudly mastered these concepts in full. And it seems I’ve still got a looooong. Long. Way. To go.

Long story short, this weekend found me sitting for 2.5 hours in the car with three kids—which is exactly as fun as it sounds—because of something to which I overcommitted in the first place. Before I left, I’d had to say no to seeing a friend for the last time before she left for two months; had to say no to a peaceful holiday with my family, despite my worn soul, due to my lack of foresight.

The funny thing, as I reflected in my consternation and yes, tears, is that I didn’t even think about saying no.

I’m amazed at how many Westerners respond to the question, “How’s life?” with, “Busy!” And I’ve gotta loop myself in there. Our spirituality ups the ante of our “opportunities”: Who wants to say no to something God might be putting in our paths?

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