Unoffended: The Freedom of Forgiveness

unoffended March 2017

If you’ve been married for more than one minute, you know that men and women are different. So many times, I’ve had the conversation with my husband where he asks why women are always getting so offended at each other. I tell him that it’s because we talk about more than just sports or the weather. We are deep, connected creatures.

Or at least were meant to be. But that very blessing can be what also causes us to hurt each other and to hold onto that hurt. I am a gregarious, outgoing person. I talk to everybody, and I talk too much. That disposition naturally lends itself to situations where I cause offense. Although I have learned a lot about not saying everything I think, that choice is still a battle for me.

My heart is very tender. I cry at every movie or commercial or when I see someone with a homeless sign on the side of the road. So people who know me hopefully know that I would not hurt them on purpose. But again, because of my personality, I am more apt to bring that offense than, say, a person who is shy and reserved. The Bible says that if we believe we have caused an offense, we are to go to that person and make it right. It doesn’t say, “if they deserve an apology.” It doesn’t say if we have legitimately offended on purpose. It says if someone is offended at us, we have to be the ones to go make it right. Don’t believe me? See for yourself from Matthew 5:23-24 (emphasis mine):

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Is it awkward to bring up what someone may have against us? Absolutely. But it’s the right thing to do, and it will make things better in almost every case. I don’t want to share specific examples on here, because I don’t know who’s reading this post, but suffice it to say that I’ve had to swallow my pride on more than one occasion and go ask someone to forgive me. I may not have known what I did wrong, and I may not have done it on purpose, but it was worth it to me not to have an unspoken tension that would keep that person from the fullness of God’s plan for them.

I don’t want to be somebody’s stumbling block, and I hope you don’t either. Jesus is coming back soon, and one of the things that will keep us from receiving God’s forgiveness is if we don’t forgive others. That’s plain too, in Matthew 6:14-15. I beg and plead that you would heed your sister’s heart. I know it doesn’t feel good to humble ourselves or to try to make a situation feel better that we don’t even believe we caused. But I can tell you as someone who has come out on the other side of many of those situations, getting the hurt out in the open is the right thing to do. It brings such a healing.

Let me end by recommending a book. It was introduced to me by my former pastor and it’s called The Bait of Satan by John Bevere. Think of Satan as a master fisherman who knows exactly how to get vulnerable people on the hook. What’s his number one lure? It’s offense. Jesus tells us not to be offended. So if you have been offended or if you believe you’ve caused offense, even inadvertently, I highly recommend this book. I will happily loan my copy to someone if you would like to work through it. I’m not saying any of this will be easy, but it will be worth it.

If you would like for me to pray for you in this situation, please leave me a comment or use my contact form to send an email. I want us all to make it to heaven, but not just that. I want us all to have a joyful, abundant life here on earth, and I believe that the forgiveness that we can offer and that we can receive is the key to that life.

Be blessed!

www.thebeaminmyeye.com

A Call to Generosity

Though I only ever saw the final scene of the movie Schindler’s List, there was something so powerful about it that its message has always stuck with me. In that scene, Oskar Schindler, a businessman who had rescued over a thousand Jews , regrets that he had not done even more to make money available for that purpose. He laments not selling his car or his jewelry–objects he could’ve done without in order to save more people. So generous a man wanted to do even more and weeps over not using his money to do what it could have done.  Let us let that sink in.

I hear information all the time about a budget, and I am (as my husband can tell you), more than willing to talk about one. I believe in saving, and I believe in spending and paying bills and all the things we need to do with our finances. But you know what I believe in most of all?

Generosity.

I believe that one day all of this “stuff” is going to burn, and the only thing that will have mattered about our lives is what we did to help other people. Proverbs says that a man’s gift makes room for him. Some people interpret that to mean that a man’s gift makes room for him to have more friends or to exert more influence or to be seated at a better table. I’ve always thought that too, but now I’m thinking something more.  What I think is that the scripture means that our generosity makes room for us to be heard by people. And Jesus obviously supports that assertion when he says that we should not send a man who is hungry away from our door, tell him to be blessed, and give him nothing tangible.  If I have been generous with someone out of sincere motives, not bribery or false pretenses, it opens the way for me to share friendship and the gospel with them.

It’s time we had a talk about what our money is really for. It’s not just for a house or car or some Christmas presents. It’s not for bringing the latest Pinterest vision to life.  It’s about paving the way for other people’s lives to be enriched. If the love of money is the root of all evil, I don’t want to love it. I want to use it as a tool to bless others and to show them Jesus. I want to be the most generous tipper in a restaurant or the one who supports a variety of ministries. I’m not saying I am that every time. Heavens no. But I want to be. Don’t you?  Mine and my husband’s ultimate goal is that we would be financially stable, not so that we can retire in the Keys, but so that we can bless other people.

Let’s take some time to shift our focus from The American Dream to the dream of Jesus, which encompasses the whole world and how they can come to know Him.  And let’s ask God if our current level of giving is just enough so that we are still comfortable or whether we are giving to the point where it hurts us sometimes…but sure helps others.

I know today’s post might seem harsh, but I think it’s so important that we realize we don’t have unlimited time on this earth, and we may never have unlimited resources.  But will you join me in making the most of your time and resources?  If so, will you leave a comment below?

Want to think about it a little more?  That’s okay too.  Read this post, and see what Jesus lays on your heart.

Be blessed, Friend.

www.thebeaminmyeye.com

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The Myth of Rest

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I have written posts several times referring to the fact that I have such a busy life. It’s really a struggle for me to rest, just as it was for Martha when Jesus came to her house. I’ve been reading the book of Luke along with the First 5 app, and something really caught my attention in chapter five. In that chapter, it says that Jesus often withdrew to lonely places:

15 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

When I first heard just the part about withdrawing to lonely places, I thought what we all think, which is that we all need to make time for ourselves–even Jesus did. But right after that thought, I noticed that the text says Jesus went to those lonely places for a different reason. He prayed.

I have been to the spa multiple times, and I’ve had massages and vacations and romantic getaways, but I never really come back totally rested in my spirit. I still have overwhelming thoughts and sometimes even depression or frustration. I think it must be that

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I need to follow Christ’s example.  He afforded himself purposeful rest. Yes, He needed to escape from the crowds, which we see many times in the Word. However, He did for himself what he promises to do for us, which is to give us rest for our souls. That kind of rest is never going to come from us coloring in a book or doing a relaxing craft. It’s only going to come from spending time with the Lord.

Learn why rest never feels restful and how to change that. thebeaminmyeye.wordpress.com

I was surprisingly convicted listening to this short little passage of Scripture, but that’s what I love about the Word. The rhema word is a word that comes alive to us in a moment even though we might’ve read it a hundred times before. This word I’m sharing I hope will be a rhema word for you and for me today.

Do you need rest for your soul? Come to Jesus, who says His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  Leave a comment below about how I can pray for you to find rest.  I am convinced it’s for all of us.

Happy New Year!

www.thebeaminmyeye.com

Wisdom from the Wilderness: Enjoy the Moment.

This wilderness that I’m in seems like it will never end.thebeaminmyeye.com
As I’ve been studying my kindred spirits, the Israelites, and the beginning of the Bible, it’s easy to see why it took them forty years to get where they were going. It’s not like they exactly behaved while they were on their exodus.  God had made them great and precious promises, but all they could see were their circumstances. Forty years of them. Without the food they wanted. Without the land they had been promised. Without a God they felt like they could see and connect with.
I sometimes feel that same way and I act just like they did. With that being said, it’s time to give myself a pep talk. As I used to say to the students in my class, it’s time for a Life Lesson with Lolley. The life lesson in this instance is precipitated by the fact that just about once a week, a different well-meaning and wonderful friend asks me how I’m doing. I can hear the questions behind the question, which are, “What are you doing? What is your next step? Has anything new happened?”
And to all those questions, I have to say, “No.” I don’t see any writing on the wall. I don’t know where we’re headed. However, and this should never be a cheesy statement, my God knows where I’m going and he’s holding me in the palm of His hand. So I’ve decided to take some wisdom from this wilderness. My first piece of wisdom is this.   I am going to enjoy the moment. I had a revelation sometime last year where I told my husband that we were never going to have these moments back that we have right now. These moments when we’re undistracted by a child and can focus on each other. These moments unhindered by a specific ministry, where we can really listen for the call of God for our hearts. I don’t want to miss those moments. So my sweet friends, if you’re wondering what I’m doing these days, it’s mostly nothing. Yes, I’m Suzy and I’m busy, and I’m a Martha, but I’m not really doing a whole lot that even I would call purposeful right about now. But there is purpose in that. I’m looking for the grand adventure that could be just around the next corner.  I don’t want to miss this moment, that moment, or anything in the here and now. I want to relish the walks I’m taking with my husband, the peaceful trips in our new kayaks, and even evenings on the couch.
I want to celebrate the fact that I have something to cry and mourn and pray about. I want to allow myself to be pulled into my heavenly father’s lap and rocked when I need it.
And not feel guilty that I’m wasting my life.
And not feel embarrassed that I’ve shared grand visions with people that haven’t yet come to pass.
I know my God has got me and that whatever plan He has for me will come to pass, even if it takes my version of forty years.  [Tweet “I know my God has got me and that whatever plan He has for me will come to pass, even if it takes my version of forty years.”]
Are you in an uncomfortable place in your walk right now?  I’d love for you to share some of your “wisdom from the wilderness” or even a prayer request.  Leave a comment below!
Your Fellow Sojourner,
www.thebeaminmyeye.com

Get It Done, Son! Five Tools for Meeting Your Goals

For eleven years, I taught children. They might’ve been teenage children, but they were moldable, able to be disciplined, and (even though I’m fun) generally controllable. Now I teach adults. Pause for a moment and let that sink in. What am I going to do to an adult who does not do his or her homework for a computer training class? Put him in the corner? It’s with this dilemma and memories of my own former high school and middle school classrooms that I have discovered gamification.

To gamify something means to make a game out of it. You wouldn’t believe what teachers would do to win banana pudding or two hours of me teaching their worst classes 🙂 In a recent training series, just being on teams with the same color helped teachers to encourage one another to do their best work and to do it on time.

What does this have to do with anything? To me, if there’s anything I can do to engage my willpower a little more, I want to goalsdo it. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that meeting goals is not always my strong suit 🙂 That’s why I’ve written the kind of posts I have, and that’s why my blog is named what it is, The Beam in My Eye. I know I have a lot of weaknesses. I need help addressing them, and I thought that today I would give you some practical tips I’m using to help myself maintain excitement about my goals–in other words, these are the ways I’m gaming my own motivation. I’ve talked about weight loss on here and my struggle to pray, as well as many other goals like organization that I have yet to achieve. With that being said, let’s talk about some tools I’m using to help myself reach my goals and to add that little bit of childhood play that engages my willpower.

Five Tools for Meeting Your Goals

  1.  One the first tools I use is called Commit, and I heard about it from signing up for the Make Over Your Mornings course from Crystal Paine. It’s a three-dollar app that does one thing and does it well. You set goals, and you just simply click yes if you have met the goal for that day. One feature and drawback of it at the same time is that you can only go back and check off goals from the day before. If you miss checking, you’ve lost your opportunity beyond that. I love that limitation, though, because sometimes our memories are flawed, and we are more generous to ourselves in hindsight than we should be. It’s important that not only do we have goals, but that we also check in on them daily. I know I haven’t been on any streaks in a while with the app, but I need to do just that 🙂  Some of my goals are as simple as making my bed, while others challenge me to seriously pray, and this app helps manage all of them.
  2. The second way I’m holding myself accountable is through online book studies. Evin, Janet, and I decided to do weekly blab chats as I was reading the Christian weight-loss book Made to Crave for at least the third time. By forcing ourselves to be on camera, talking about the chapters and talking about our own struggles and successes, I felt like I had accountability even from a distance. These ladies seem to really enjoy what we talked about, and I have continued to report my successes and failures to them as the journey has gone on. I actually feel more motivated about my weight loss and my controlled eating than I ever have.  I am also helping with a book study at Beulah Girl for those who don’t see the point in their struggles.  Just by studying alongside others, not only am I reading more, but I am forced to process my own circumstances through the lens of a talented writer as well.
  3. Because of this challenge, I was prompted to re-download the app My Fitness Pal. It is also simple, in that it tracks calories. You can set a goal of how much you want to lose a week, and the app’s goals will adapt to you. In a funny twist of fate (since I’m struggling to lose weight AND want to get pregnant), a lady rubbed my stomach and said something about me being pregnant recently. I didn’t know her. However, that action motivated me to adjust my calorie level down so that I could start losing two pounds a week instead of my current rate. There’s nothing like embarrassment for motivation, but the friendship motivation has definitely been more rewarding.  This app also builds in the game concept.  It has a feed similar to Facebook’s, where you can see when others have exercised, logged in, or met their calorie goals, and thus give each other a virtual high five.  Any encouragement I can get is very rewarding–how about you?
  4. Another way that I am motivating myself to maintain my goals is really old-fashioned. It involves stickers, which if you’re like me, you love 🙂 I have a simple daily agenda that I bought at Ross, which is my favorite place to buy an agenda because they’re cute and affordable, and I simply put a sticker in there when I have done at least thirty minutes of physical activity in that day. I also write what I did beside the sticker so that I have a nice record visually of how I’m achieving my goals.  I’ve talked about my organizing hero, Alejandra Costello, before, and I like her idea of saving her old agendas to look back on and see an awesome record of accomplishment and really, of life, so I am enjoying stickering mine up in hopes of feeling proud later!
  5. The final way I am holding myself accountable for now is through spending time with my husband. Now if you don’t have a husband, this is not meant to be depressing 🙂 Think of a friend that you would like to spend time with that either needs to meet a goal that you’re doing or just simply wants to spend time with you. Dusty and I have been taking late night walks and even including our doggies. By doing that, not only do we get to bond and talk about the fact that we have no idea what we’re doing in life right now, but I also get to burn a whopping eighty-six calories or more.  Until I can get him to join the gym with me, I’ll have to settle for that.

There are so many ways to reach goals that I haven’t mentioned here.  I’m just discussing a few apps, the use of stickers, and the importance of relationships to achieve permanent change.  What other tools would you like to share?  I’d love to hear them!  Tell you what, if you share the best idea in the comments below AND you have an iPhone, I will buy you the Commit app!  So let’s get this comments party started!

Be blessed!

www.thebeaminmyeye.com