A Generous Grace

ideas on practical spirituality and loving each other

Month: October 2016

Spiritual Disciplines for Real Families—10 Practical Ways to Teach Prayer (FREE PRINTABLES!)

Last week, I heard from my sister in Thailand some of the heartbreaking moments they’ve been struggling through in their community of refugees. An 11-year-old girl sent to possibly “work” in Bangkok with her mother. A stabbing. A man depriving his family of enough money to buy food. And I thought, my kids and I should pray.

Then I thought of our prayers the last several weeks: Mostly stuff about…us.

Of course it’s good to teach our children to seek God for all their needs. But at that moment I thought, I want to up the ante on teaching my kids to cry out to God for other people.

Spiritual disciplines are hard to practically teach kids. I, particularly, am Madame Non in my house—I’m driving/correcting the schooling, the chores, the attitudes, the dirty underwear cast 14 inches from the hamper.

I also don’t need more stuff to do. The good news: The goal isn’t to do all of these; or even to “do.” It’s about setting ourselves up to receive God’s grace–like a football player positioning himself for the catch. Pick one of these, and knead it into life (I think of it like adding flour to dough, a little at a time). I believe in what Richard Foster writes:

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Away: Feeling Far from God

The headlights wove through a mountain pass tonight as a few tears plopped on my lap. My husband had encouraged me to get out for some time alone; he and the kids shared shish kabobs at home. Usually I’m getting out for a relief from, well, motherhood. In the car it was blissfully quiet, blissfully alone. But my wanderings through the stacks of the used bookstore had struggled to lift what sat on my chest.

I mentioned I’ve been grieving lately. I wonder. Is it my heart’s questions that make me feel God is unusually silent?

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How would Jesus tweet? Social media as love, Part III–FREE GIVEAWAY

Missed the first two posts? Get Part I here and Part II here.

6.  Love = Telling the truth.In love. Is a status update artfully alighting upon all my strengths the same as telling the truth? Like a camera, we all choose what we zoom in on. But is it possible we’re airbrushing our lives, and creating a climate of unnatural expectations? (Check out this post on perfectionism vs. pursuing excellence.) Though we may look for sympathy when our kid smears poop on the wall or throws a fit in Target’s housewares aisle, our lives on social media generally lean toward the photoshopped side of things.

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How would Jesus tweet? Social media as love, Part II

Missed Part I on Monday? Grab it here–and make sure to come back for the social media giveaway on Friday!

4. If social media is to love others, it’s gotta stay in its proper place. I highly value this post on 6 Ways Your Smartphone Is Changing You, in which the author asserts that our smartphones can take the place of embodiment—of simply being fully present with the real, live folks around us.

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How would Jesus tweet? Social media as love, Part I

Confession: I have a love/hate relationship with social media.

Love: Part of it feels like that old gameshow, “This is Your Life” (though I confess to only seeing the Sesame Street version with Guy Smiley). I love connecting to people with whom I attended Sowers Elementary, when I had eighties hair. To my refugee students whose wide, blindingly-white grins I miss from Refuge and Hope.

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Love Says No: How Boundaries Express True Care, Part II

Missed the first post? Grab it here.

4. Boundaries esteem the image of God in me and the people I love. They say Hey, both of us were created in God’s image. So that means justice is pursued not just on your behalf, but mine, too. (Check out this post on burnout…and this one on martyrdom.) If I’m not to think more highly of myself than I ought, it means not only am I not lazy—it also means I’m forbidding an unhealthy perspective about how much I’m needed. Continue reading

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Love Says No: How Boundaries Express True Care, Part I

I remember that summer vividly; pivotally. I was on my way into high school, and had finally wrapped my hormone-charged little brain around Jesus’ servanthood, His death to self. I remember leaning over my cafeteria tray, discussing with my camp counselor what that looked like. She looked alarmed, I think, over my fervor (I’m sure my husband can relate): But Jesus doesn’t want us to be doormats, she countered.

At the time, I just couldn’t see it. What did Jesus hold back? The concept of “boundaries” seemed a post-modern reflex against living radical and poured-out. I didn’t see a whole lot about boundaries in the Gospels.

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When Helping Hurts [You], Part III: When Aisha Died

helping hurts

The phone connection sounded a bit like Oliver, one of my closest Ugandan friends, was crushing newspapers on the other end; I held the phone an inch from my ear. But I didn’t miss what made my hand fly to my chest: “Aisha…she passed. It was just too late. Things were already too bad.”

Aisha. Perhaps you remember her from this photo, snapped from my phone two and a half months ago, outside a mud hut in the slums of Namuwongo. She’s the young mother of four kids. A twenty-something.

namuwongo family

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Secular to Sacred: Truth from Surprising Sources

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Have you ever been in a disagreement with someone who was kind enough to hear the real questions you were asking, rather than just the (irritated, misspoken, inflamed) way you actually said it?

Everything changes.

A college relationship professor once taught me the 1% theory, and it’s changed the way I look at life. The gist: In whatever negative way someone’s berating you, find the percentage—however small—that’s true. Then choose to be 100% responsible for your percent, even if it’s just 1% of what they say that’s true.

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