Learning Humility

Yesterday in church our pastor quoted Anne Lamott when he said “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”  This month in our book, My Grandmother is …praying for me, the focus of the daily prayers is humility.  I am more convinced than ever that humility is not a natural character quality, but is one that is learned.  Our natural tendency is toward self-righteousness – a belief that our way is superior, that our thoughts are above others.  Therefore, there is a desperate need for parents and grandparents to teach and model humility to their children and grandchildren.
The book of Proverbs has many wonderful verses about humility and our book offers some great applications to help teach this concept.  One idea is to share with our grandchildren the stories of those who have exhibited great humility – such as Mother Teresa.  Another idea is to discuss Moses, the man that the Bible (in Numbers 12:3) cites as the most humble man on earth.  It may even be beneficial to share a part of our own stories about when we were humbled, or chose to demonstrate humility.

Here’s a story I might share with my grandchildren someday. When I was a high school counselor, I made a mistake that was detrimental to a student and his family.  The mistake was made because I was confident that I knew the right way to accomplish a task and I forged ahead without consulting others.  I was devastated when I was wrong.  However, I learned a great deal from that episode – I learned my own limitations, I learned to seek the wisdom and knowledge of others, and I learned to respect the ability of others on our staff.  It was a very hard lesson, but often times learning humility is extremely stressful and difficult.  I hope that someday my grandchildren will benefit from hearing what God taught me through this experience.

I hope you have a great week,

Kathy

A Generous Creator and Redeemer

The month of May has been devoted to praying for generosity as the character trait for our grandchildren.  As this month comes to a close, I have been reflecting on the generosity of God, first as Creator and then as Redeemer.
As I went for my morning walk this morning, the sky was a brillant blue with not a trace of a cloud   The trees were a deep vibrant green due to all the rain we have had lately.  As I passed well-manicured lawns I saw a myriad of shapes and colors in the flowers and grasses.  After my walk I settled into eating the most delicious bowl of ripe red strawberries with thick smooth cream.  (Yes, I was splurging!).

The thought struck me as I reflected on my morning, the Lord could have created this world in black and white.  He could have created food for us that was in the shape of a pill with all the nutrients and vitamins needed to sustain us.  But here is the remarkable truth!  He did not!  In this world we are surrounded by beauty at every turn–colors, textures, sounds, smells, tastes.  All this given to us by our generous Creator Father.

But that is not all.  As beautiful as this world is, it is also broken, not what it was originally intended to be.  So what did our Generous God do?  He left all that was perfectly beautiful and glorious in heaven, and stepped into time and space of His own created world.  Why?  To show not only his generosity in His creation, but the generosity of His love.  By entering humanity Jesus revealed a love that knew no bounds. A cosmic love that was willing to take on all of our sin so that the Father could lavish His love on us as His children.

Oh, my goodness!  Surely knowing and experiencing these truths should make a difference in how we live!  So much so that our grandchildren could not help but notice and desire to do the same.

Blessings to you this Memorial Day weekend,

Pam

View from the top

Recently I was looking from the top window of a friend’s house at the hilltops with the clouds and sky in the distance and thinking of the beauty of that view and all the particular things under that view.  There are houses, trees, plants, flowers, gardens, people, animals and insects all inhabiting the territory below the hilltops.

“For a man’s ways are in full view of the Lord, and He examines all his paths.”  This verse reminds me that we see a limited view – knowing that there are many participants under the big view, but God sees Everything!  That means He sees our every thought – our every plan – our every action. It’s encouraging to think that God cares so much about the minutest details of our lives.  He wants us to live our lives honoring and glorifying Him in all our ways.  How are we using what we have for Him?

What is God’s view of us – from the top?  What does He see when He looks at us?  May it be a generous spirit combined with generous works to build His kingdom.

Susan

Planning to be Generous

Our prayer verses this month focus on the character trait of Generosity.  Can you think of a time when someone was generous towards you?  I remember one time in college when I was visiting my uncle and he slipped $100 into my hand as I left to go back to school.  I felt like I had won the lottery.  My mind was full of ideas on how to best spend an unexpected windfall!  Many of us may not be able to give monetary gifts, but we can be generous in other ways.  We can give of our time, we can share a meal or our home, we can care for others, we can speak on behalf of those who are defenseless, and we can pray.  I have even watched my grandchildren be generous in unexpected ways – by sharing toys, giving up half of a cookie, cleaning up a mess that wasn’t theirs.  Their unselfish acts are an encouragement to me! Proverbs 14:22b says “Those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.”  It is interesting to me that the Bible encourages us to plan, or be intentional, about doing good.  And I love the results of that planning – love and faithfulness!  Have a great week,

Kathy

A Gracious Winner

In our book, My Grandmother Is. . . praying for me, we pray for certain character traits each month for our grandchildren.  The title page for the month of April reads, May My Grandchild Possess Graciousness.  Through the grid of the Book of Proverbs we are praying the Lord will develop in each of our grandchildren a mind and heart full of grace.

What do you think of when you hear the words grace, gracious, or graciousness?  For me they conjure up thoughts of beauty, loveliness, kindness, compassion.  I think of a ballerina pirouetting through the air with elegance and grace.  Or a delicious dinner lovingly prepared and beautifully served for friends or family.  Or a big sister as she tenderly kisses her baby sister after she has suffered a fall.

Recently I had an unexpected experience of grace from a complete stranger.  It was in the parking lot of my church where I was busying loading my car with bags and boxes for an upcoming  teacher appreciation luncheon at a nearby public school.  As I carefully maneuvered the cart to and fro holding all my packages, I failed to see a young man walk up to me.   “May I help you?” he asked.  “Oh, I am fine, thank you,” I responded.  “No, please, I am going your way and would be glad to help.” he countered.

As he took the cart and I carried more bags, we chatted along the way.  When we finally reached our destination, I introduced myself and said I was sorry, but did not think I had met him before.   He told me his name, and I immediately recognized it as the name of the basketball coach who had just won the high school state championship.  “Well, I have certainly heard your name before.  Congratulations!”  He smiled and said thank you.

As I drove away that day, I thought now there is the kind of character I would like to see in my grandchildren.   This young man who could have been full of himself with his recent state victory was gracious enough to notice a woman, a complete stranger, fumbling with boxes and bags as she loaded her car, and then insist on helping until the job was completed.  That is what I would call a Gracious Winner on and off the basketball court!!

May the Lord give you much grace this week,

Pam

Goodness gracious!

This month our topic is graciousness which really means being kind, merciful and compassionate.  There are so many ways we can be gracious – but one that demostrated to me recently was an act from our 3 year old Piper toward her  5 year old cousin Wyatt.  Piper brought a step stool downstairs so that Wyatt could reach the sink to wash his hands.  What that communicated was being kind and compassionate and thoughtful – even though Wyatt may not have “gotten the message”.  But it also showed a tender heart and good training on the part of her mom and dad.

Now, the question for us is how to “fan into flame” that God-given compassionate spirit?  Certainly praying but also intentionally affirming acts of kindness.  Pam, Kathy and I often refer to Lois and Eunice teaching young Timothy the scriptures and they taught while they were walking the road, having a meal, doing chores – in the ordinary things of life.  But, they were teaching consistent and continually.

That is our challenge – to always be encouraging the nudgings God has put in our hearts as we interact with those around us.  May our speech be seasoned with gracious words and acts of compassion.

Susan

Discipline

Discipline is the theme of the month in our book, My Grandmother is… praying for me.  When we were writing this book, one of the things we learned is how multifaceted discipline really is.  The Book of Proverbs speaks of discipline in so many ways.  There is discipline in the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, there is discipline that results in ambition rather than laziness, there is discipline needed to control indulgences, there is discipline in choosing friends, there is discipline in deciding how to use your time and there is discipline in choosing your priorities.  With so many types of discipline to think about, I am really grateful that part of the Lord’s gift to us is His discipline in our lives.  Hebrews 12:10 says “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. “ 

Today’s verse in our devotional reads “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out” (Proverbs 18:15).  Learning is not something that stops with high school or college, but it needs to be part of our life-long journey.   This past week I was visiting my grandchildren and Katie, who is now in kindergarten, was regaling me with descriptions of all she was learning – math, reading, science – and she was so excited!  As I get older, my quest for knowledge is not so much about the things of the world, but rather about Scripture and how that applies to who I am, what I think, and what I do.  I have more interest at this point in my life to study things that will have some eternal value.  And I am excited about what God is teaching me about Himself!  I pray that today you can be excited about the discipline of learning – that whatever God is teaching you, whether it be about the life you are living or the world He created, that you can rejoice in all that He has in store for you.  Have a great week,

Kathy

Discipline: a Good Thing in the Hands of a Loving Father

The character trait for the month of March is discipline, and  I was especially interested in this word “discipline”.  It is difficult for me not to view this word in a negative or punitive light because it usually involves pain.    Even the Scripture speaks this way.

Now no chastening (discipline) seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.  Hebrews 12:11

Recently I heard a pastor friend teaching historically on the marks of a true Christian church.  One of the marks was church discipline and restoration.  He went on to explain that we do not need to shy away from this concept because all it means is discipleship.  He went on to explain that we all need to be “discipled”, and restored is just what the power of the Gospel does.

I think his words ring true particularly in light of the Hebrews passage and also Proverbs 12:1.

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.

While not all the difficult situations in our lives are necessarily God’s discipline, it is true that many are.  I must confess, especially when hearts are broken and emotions are greatly agitated, I do not always view the Lord’s actions with this perspective.  It brings to mind a hymn written by John Newton (the author of Amazing Grace) in the 1700’s entitled,  “I Asked the Lord, that I Might Grow”.

I asked the Lord that I might grow in faith, and love, and every grace.  Might more of His salvation know and seek more earnestly His face.  Twas He who taught me thus to pray, and He, I trust has answered prayer.  But it has been in such a way as almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour, at once He’d answer my request; and by His love’s constraining power, subdue my sins–and give me rest!  Instead of this, He made me feel the hidden evils of my heart; And let the angry powers of hell assault my soul in every part!

Yea more with His own hand He seemed intent to aggravate my woe!   Crossed all the fair designs I schemed, cast out my feelings, laid me low!  “Lord, why is this!  I trembling cried, “Will Thou pursue Thy worm to death?”  

Twas in this way the Lord replied, “I answer prayers for grace and faith.  These inward trials I employ, from self and pride to set you free.  And break thy schemes of earthly joy, that thou may seek thy ALL in ME!”

As painful as discipline might be in our lives, when it comes through the hands of a loving heavenly Father, we can rest assured it will always be to draw us closer to Him, a place of perfect joy and peace.

Blessings for a good week,

Pam

 

The love language

One of the applications in our book suggests challenging our grandchild to be quiet and observe what a still spirit and listening heart can absorb that might otherwise be missed.  And, what I’ve discovered is that this challenge is not just for our grandchildren – it’s for us adults! 

When we shut off the chattering and distractive noises we can tune into what Jesus wants to remind us of — that we are His beloved children, we are precious in His sight, we are valued by Him because we’re created in His image, our ways are not His ways, He has a wonderful plan for our lives, nothing comes to us that doesn’t first go through His hands, He will give us what we need for today, and on and on.  Wow!  What a love language!  All the reminders of how He loves us resonate into the depths of our being because the language He speaks was tailor made for us individually. 

Be still and know….

Blessings, Susan 

A Word Aptly Spoken

“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”  Proverbs 25:11

In my kitchen I have an old wire basket that I acquired at a flea market and it is filled with artificial apples and pears.  The fruit looks so real that many guests have attempted to pick them up and eat them.  I can hardly imagine how attractive golden apples might be if they were placed in a shining silver bowl.  They certainly would be irresistible to hold and examine.  This proverb states that a word that is spoken appropriately and at just the right time is as desirable, and as irresistible, as golden apples.

In the last month I have attended two funerals – one for my father and the other one for his brother – and have been comforted by many aptly spoken words.  A simple “I’m sorry for your loss” meant a lot to me.  “I’m praying for you” was an encouragement and comfort.  Sometimes we don’t know what to say in a situation.  Sometimes I tend to talk too much, or to say the wrong thing.  I remember really hurting someone’s feelings because I spoke without thinking.  This Proverb is a reminder to me to pray that my words, and the words of my children and grandchildren, will be well-chosen and grounded in the Truths of Scripture.  If we can speak so that our words reveal the heart of Christ, then our words will be aptly spoken.  Have a good week,

Kathy