Grace Isn’t Fair – Battles that Aren’t Yours to Fight

Grace Isn’t Fair – Battles that Aren’t Yours to Fight

Raise your hand if you fight battles that aren’t yours to fight.

My hand is up. Is yours? It should be. Whether you admit it or not, you fight battles that aren’t yours to fight. We all do.

Let’s begin with the battles we feel the most justified in fighting – those in which someone has personally wronged us. A stranger pulls out in front of you. A co-worker tries to make you look bad. A friend lies to you. A spouse betrays you. You get the point.

When someone hurts you, steals from you, lies to you, or betrays you, feeling justified to fight back is a fairly automatic response. We want to take back what is ours. We want to punish them for hurting us. We give silent treatments, spit back hurtful words, or let everyone else know what they did to us. We want vengeance.

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but the Bible gives us advice on this.

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  (Romans 12:19)

Give it to God. It is not your battle to fight. Forgive them. Love them. Let it go.

You know what drives me crazy though? It’s watching good things happen to people who hurt me.

Um, hello God. Where’s the vengeance? Aren’t you going to even the score? Maybe take something away from them, scratch their fancy SUV, or make them trip and fall on their face? I want to see them punished.

Stop. Right. There.

What’s wrong with that attitude? It’s not forgiving or loving.

We may not get to see them punished. We don’t know their life story. God may choose to show them grace.

Oh, but that’s not fair! Guess what? Grace isn’t fair.

And that brings me to the battles we fight for others. This is what I really want to focus on because it affects us more than we realize, either as the fighter or the unsuspecting opponent. We often get upset when we see a friend or family member being wronged. A friend tells you a mutual friend has hurt them, and you vow to quit talking to them because of it. A family member refuses to help another out. So, you vow not to help them the next time they call you. Maybe you get on social media and share the rant that was posted about the wrongdoing.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s not even about someone hurting someone else but rather getting something that you think they don’t deserve – money, possessions, attention, forgiveness.

Did that disturb the thorn in your side?

Does your mom or dad always have an excuse for your lazy brother or sister no matter how many times they mess up their life? Do you think you deserve more because you show up more? You’re putting in the work. You’re the responsible one. Why do they get taking care of? It isn’t fair.

Most of us know the parable of the Prodigal Son, but do we pay attention to the lesson given to his older brother? The lost son returns, but his older brother isn’t happy. He doesn’t want to join the party being thrown for his selfish younger brother who ran off and squandered their father’s money. But, pay attention to what he gets told when he throws a fit.

“My son,” the father said, “You are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” (Luke 15:31)

The return of his younger brother didn’t diminish his faithfulness to his father or his own inheritance. It was not his job to decide whether or not his father showed grace to his brother. Just like it’s not your job or mine to decide if it’s fair for someone else to be given grace – whether it comes from a boss, a friend, a parent, or God.

Stop sharing the rants. Stop whispering to other friends. Stop whining to your father about your undeserving brother…

Because it’s not your battle to fight, and grace isn’t fair.

Grace is watching a friend give you a kiss of death while doing nothing to stop it. Grace is enduring a beating from others when you don’t deserve it. Grace is hanging from a cross and asking your father to forgive them because “they know not what they do.”

Grace isn’t fair, but it provides a way. It allows the wounded to be healed, the broken to be made whole, and peace for an anguished soul.

It doesn’t matter if you think someone doesn’t deserve grace. It doesn’t matter if someone thinks you don’t deserve grace. No one can ever take away what’s already yours through God’s grace, nor can you take away the grace that’s given to them.

Be brave!

Be blessed!

Be grace-focused!

xoxo

Ash

Does Church Still Matter?

Does Church Still Matter?

I sat here for a minute wondering how to begin. There’s not really a delicate way to open this topic and maybe there shouldn’t be because sugar-coating isn’t honesty. Sugar-coating doesn’t bring about change. It doesn’t challenge people to look at something in a different way or admit that maybe they feel this way too. Too much sugar puts us into a coma. Biting down on a bitter slice of lemon, though, might just wake us up.

I grew up thinking church was where we went to act perfect (wearing a Sunday dress, curling your hair, and putting a smile on your face) instead of where you go to be made whole (admitting that you are broken, hurting, hungry, and longing to know unconditional love).

When people outside the church are nicer to you than those inside the church, when you feel like an outsider no matter how many years you’ve attended or how many activities you go to, when you hear more gossip inside those sacred walls than outside (not only as a teenager but still as an adult) – you start to wonder what church really is.

What’s the purpose? Why are we really here? Do we really care about the struggling family in front of us or the wife behind us whose husband stays home…? Or are we just here to pay our Christian dues?

Cue the music, raise your hands, shake some hands, drop the offering in the plate, half-way pay attention to the sermon, check the time when your stomach starts to grumble, bow your head, say “Amen,” and next week do it all again…

Cue the bitter taste of lemon in your mouth.

It may not sound so sweet, but it’s the truth, or has been at some point, for too many of us. I’ve played that routine.

When church is just a routine, it doesn’t change your life. When it becomes an exclusive club, it doesn’t reach the lost or heal the broken (inside or outside those walls). Church leaders all over say we need to show up, plug in, and get connected. Okay. But, when you show up and still feel alone because you’re not a part of the original club or fit conveniently into the sub-categories (meant to bring us closer but sometimes divide us more) – parents, singles, etc. – how the heck are you supposed to connect?

Are we really reaching those who need Jesus (inside or outside those walls), or are we excluding them?

We get so caught up thinking it’s the church’s job to do everything that we forget who the church is. You are the church. I am the church. He is the church. She is the church. And if you, I, he, and she aren’t reaching out, who is?

We don’t just need Jesus inside those walls. We need Him outside in everyday life. We need Him at dinner tables, baseball games, birthday parties, work, the gym, the streets…

Jesus got in trouble for eating with sinners. His response: “…It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)

We tend to label those outside the church as “sinners,” but we are all sinners, even those of us sitting inside the church. How can we reach beyond those walls though when we struggle to reach those already within them? We don’t think that we, or those sitting around us, need help because we’re already at church. Or, our help is a simple “I’ll pray for you.”

Now don’t get me wrong, prayer is important. We need prayer. We should absolutely be praying for each other. I appreciate when a friend says they are praying for me (especially when I haven’t told them that I need it). Being part of the body of Christ is more than just praying though. We need to be His hands and feet, and that might mean physically spending time with that friend in addition to saying “I’ll pray.” It might mean setting up a play-date for your kids and hers. It might mean inviting that other couple over to barbeque.

We need to see Jesus and have companionship outside those walls and church-sponsored activities, all of us. We need to see beyond the “Sunday smiles.” We need to see that outside those walls we are real people with real doubts, real problems, real pain and we need real friends with real honesty, real comfort, and even real laughter to heal our hearts.

Let’s stop the sugar-coating. Break the Christian bubble. It’s not protecting you. It’s isolating you. It’s keeping you from doing what He created you to do and it’s keeping you from the healing He is trying to put you through.

If we want the church to matter still, we have to matter to each other… inside and outside those walls.

Are you ready?

Be brave!

Be blessed!

Be His hands and feet!

xoxo,

Ash

Where Have All the Real Friends Gone?

Where have all the real friends gone?

I miss the days of real face-to-face friendship, before Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram took over our social lives. What happened to showing up at a friend’s house to see if they wanted to hang out? What happened to chatting with someone without worrying about what time it is or notifications beeping from our cell phones?

When did we allow ourselves to become so busy that we’re too busy for friends, but we can get lost in social media, YouTube videos, and Netflix? When did we forget the importance of making time for what really matters in life, like relationships, family, and genuinely connecting with others? My much younger siblings would probably just say I’m getting old.

Hmmm…Growing up. Getting old. Too busy. What terrible excuses those are for no longer spending time with other people.

Growing up, getting married, and having kids shouldn’t be excuses for not having friends. We don’t stop needing friendships, ever. We’re not created to be alone all the time.

We still crave community. We’re just seeking it the wrong way now. We’ve become too comfortable with clicking “like” instead of talking to each other. Commenting on one photo is not equivalent to catching up with a friend. It doesn’t compare to sipping a coffee and chatting or meeting at the park with your kids.

We’ve gone into hiding because of social media. We’ve built a wall between our posts and our real lives. That filtered photo with makeup just right translates into us not wanting to be seen at home without makeup. How dare we allow friends to see what we look like anymore?

The sweet sleeping children photo becomes a mom turning down a visit from a friend because she can’t possibly let them see the day-to-day truth of the messy house and kids running wild. One might think she doesn’t have it all together or that she’s not a perfect mom. Oh my!

I don’t care if you have makeup on or your house isn’t spotless. I’m not wearing any makeup right now, and no matter how often I clean, my house is never spotless. So friends, come on over! This is me. The real me. And I’d like to get to know the real you again.

Stop worrying so much about looking perfect. Don’t worry about what the house, the kids, and the husband look like. Just start reconnecting with other people again.

At the risk of sounding old again, call a friend.

Wait…what? You want me to phone a friend? Isn’t that a life line in some former game show?

We may have forgotten, but let me refresh your memory. That tiny computer your holding in your hands can still make and receive phone calls. You know, that magical ability to hear someone’s voice from far away?

Ok, sorry. That’s a bit heavy on the sarcasm.

Seriously though. We should give that a try again instead of letting the last of the telemarketers and the scammers make up the majority of our incoming calls.

But what about texting? It’s easier. It’s more convenient. Um, yes and no. It’s easier for the person who doesn’t feel like answering someone right now or the person who likes to have time to think of a good excuse to why they can’t do something. So, texts are another avenue for laziness, excuses, and even misunderstandings because we can’t type 100% the way we talk. The tone of our voice and little ums and hmms make a difference.

So, call a friend if you’re brave enough, or text if you must. Just make a move to reconnect. Make plans. Show up. Stop worrying.

There are things to do, even if some activities now seem uncool or outdated. Invite others over for dinner. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Cook out. Order in. It’s about the company more than the food. Play board games. Adults don’t have to stop playing games.

Do something simple. Go for a walk with a friend. Go for a drive. Take the kids to the park. Oh, and don’t forget that your friends who don’t have kids still exist too. We often get neglected once everyone around us becomes parents. We still need friends.

Those who work on making time for meaningful relationships with friends and family are happier people. Once our basic needs are met, happiness increases more based on our experiences with others than just having more things or more money.

Let’s stop focusing on likes, comments, and emoji and return to conversations, laughter, and hugs. Let’s be real friends again.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24

Be brave!

Be blessed!

Be a real friend!

xoxo

Ash

Do You Think Others Should Be Helped?

Do You Think Others Should Be Helped?

When you find out someone is facing the same struggle that you made it through, how do you respond? Do you have compassion for them or expect them to get through it on their own because you did?

Have you ever said, “I didn’t get any help,” and thought someone else shouldn’t either?

If your response to someone’s struggle is, “I didn’t get any help,” you need to check yourself. That statement is not a Jesus response. It doesn’t come from a place of compassion and love. It comes from a feeling of pride, selfishness, anger, or even jealousy. Either one, or a combination of them, is causing you to respond without compassion.

Just because you made it through a struggle without any help, doesn’t meant someone else doesn’t need help through the same thing. That person isn’t you. They don’t think like you. They don’t act like you. They weren’t raised like you. Even growing up in the same household doesn’t mean you were raised 100% the same.

And here’s something people don’t like to here, but it’s true: males and females are different too. Boys and girls, men and women, and brothers and sisters often perceive and respond in different ways to the same struggle because we are different. He may need to be challenged to do it on his own, but she made need to know someone cares about her struggle in order to get through it.

We respond to challenges differently and we need help in different ways. Someone can be helped financially, physically, emotionally and even spiritually (prayer). You may not think they deserve financial help, but there are other ways to help. Maybe you can offer to physically help them do the work. Maybe you can call or text words of encouragement. Something as simple as “I love you. You’ve got this!” can help someone feel better.

If you don’t think you can help in any of these ways, there’s one thing you can ALWAYS do. You can pray for them. Pray for strength, knowledge, finances, health… whatever it is they need to get through this.

There is always a way to help, and you should always want to help, whether you feel helped or not.

If you think you didn’t get any help, can you look at your situation differently now? Maybe you didn’t get the financial help at the time. Maybe nobody showed up to do the work with you. Did anyone encourage you though? Did you get told “I love you,” “You’ve got this,” or “Hang in there” by friends or family? Were you being prayed for?

I’m betting you got helped more than what you realized. We don’t always see the ways we are helped. You may have people moving mountains for you through prayer. Don’t ever underestimate the power of a praying sibling, parent, or grandparent each and every day.

So, when you say, “I didn’t get any help,” and you feel someone else shouldn’t either, think again. Even if you didn’t see direct help, the greatest Helper of all was right there with you. He did not leave you or forsake you. He put things into place that you didn’t see.

Don’t ever become prideful thinking you didn’t get any help so no one else should either.

Maybe your struggle happened so you could be the help to someone else someday. Maybe you’ve been financially blessed so that you can be a financial blessing to someone else. Don’t be so proud of your accomplishments that you don’t acknowledge that you were helped along the way. Step up and be the help that somebody else needs today.

If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? (1 John 3:17)

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)

Be brave!

Be blessed!

And be helpful!

xoxo

Ash

Philippians 2:4

Backing Prayer with Faith

Backing Prayer with Faith

Do you back your prayer with faith?

When you pray, do you trust God for the answer or the healing? Do you continue on in peace knowing that He’s working everything to your good, even if it doesn’t look or feel like it? Or, do you pray and continue to worry, stress, and complain that nothing is getting better?

Are you wondering where your healing is? Are you wondering if it’s even possible for the situation your praying over to be resolved?

It’s time to pray with faith. Here is some encouragement on how to do so and helpful scriptures to remember.

Pray without doubting

Whether we want to admit it or not, sometimes we pray while doubting. When a situation looks impossible to fix, it’s easy to doubt that it’ll get worked out. When we spend years praying for healing without seeing results, we doubt that the healing will happen. We start to question ourselves and God. What am I doing wrong? I must be doing something wrong. God, do you hear me? Am I supposed to bear this forever? Maybe I’m not meant to be healed.

Friends, when we pray, we need to believe, really believe, that the situation will work out or that the healing is going to happen.

“But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:6

Let Go of Worrying

We tend to also tack on worry to our doubts. What if the situation gets worse? What if it can’t be fixed? What am I going to do? How can I get through this? What if I’m never healed?

Does worrying ever make a situation better? No.

Does worrying make you feel better? No.

Anxiety is on the rise in today’s society. We spend too much time worrying, even about little things. Let’s stop giving in to worry and have faith it will be okay. The Bible tells us not to be anxious.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

Know that Everything is Possible

It’s time to stop doubting, stop worrying, and know that everything is possible when we pray. Everything.

It doesn’t matter how messed up things look. It doesn’t matter what the doctors say. It doesn’t matter how long you have been fighting this battle. Our God is willing and able to work all things together for our good.

We may not see how. We may not know when. That’s okay. It’s our job to have faith. Believe that everything is possible.

“…Everything is possible for him who believes.” Mark 9:23

Start praying with faith!

Be brave!

Be blessed!

Be faith-filled!

xoxo

Ash

Mark 9:23

It Can Stop With You – Break the Generational Curse

It can stop with you – break the generational curse

When we go to the doctor and fill out paperwork, we often have boxes to check on our medical history, including our family members. They want to know if heart disease, diabetes, or cancer runs in our family. There are so many health issues that are labeled as “hereditary” or even just “potentially hereditary.” So, if Grandma had breast cancer, you might end up with it too.

It doesn’t just stop with illnesses like cancer and heart disease though. Addictions and behaviors are sometimes labeled as hereditary too.

Good grief! If your grandparents had cancer, your parents had diabetes, and all them were alcoholics, you might feel pretty doomed thinking these are all going to affect you because they might be hereditary.

Guess what?

IT CAN STOP WITH YOU!

Just because there’s a history of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, or alcoholism in your family doesn’t mean you will battle with these issues also.

It can all stop with you. Stop dwelling on your family history. Stop telling yourself, “Well, that’s what happened to my mother. So, it’ll probably happen to me too.”

No! Quit thinking about these things negatively and quit talking about them as if you’ll have them.

Believe that it stops with you. Start thinking that the generational curse will be broken by you. Picture your DNA being changed. Picture your heart beating strongly. Picture yourself healthy and happy. Thank God for your health. Declare it.

I used to worry about getting breast cancer because of my family history. I have grandmothers with dementia. Am I worried about those things anymore? Nope. Because I’m believing that those illnesses are wiped from my DNA. Think I’m crazy? Eh, suit yourself. But I’m not going to sit around and worry about illnesses I may or may not have some day because my parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents had them. Instead, I’m going to do what I can to make healthy choices both physically and mentally.

Stressing about things happening to you doesn’t do you any good. If you want a better life, change your habits. Think better. Eat better. Live better. And thank God each day for your strong and healthy heart or your strong and healthy brain. Declare it and believe it.

I believe in the power of prayer. I believe in miracles. I believe that what we think and speak affects us. Whatever you’ve been told runs in your family – can stop with you.

I understand illnesses and struggles can still happen. However, I want you to quit thinking that all these things are going to happen to you just because they run in your family. Think about better things.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8 NIV

Be brave!

Be blessed!

Be set free!

xoxo

Ash

If you would like to look into this topic a bit more, I highly recommend “Switch on Your Brain” by Dr. Caroline Leaf.

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Repercussion for choosing a more natural lifestyle

God gave us what we need on this Earth. We have plants and foods that contain nutrients with the power to maintain and heal our bodies. That is something I’ve become much more aware of and appreciative of since choosing a more natural lifestyle.

A few years ago, I really started learning more about using more natural products in our household. One of the first changes I made was in our cleaning products. The warning labels on products I used to clean my kitchen and bathroom were appalling. These warnings weren’t new. I just grew accustomed to thinking “that’s normal.” What brought the dangers of them to my attention was a local news story about a mother dying while cleaning her bathroom. I looked into natural cleaning solutions and began cleaning our home with vinegar and baking soda.

I didn’t stop there though. Making that switch opened up a whole can of worms: personal care products, beauty products, processed food, and even modern medicine. I continued my “ditch and switch” little by little throughout our home. I ditched the most toxic products and switched to healthier options. I began using essential oils and buying less junk food. I became one of “those people” (you know, the ones who read labels).

Gasp! I went crazy! Well, at least that’s how some people started to treat me, friends and family. I feel like I had it coming. I suppose it’s deserving for the way I treated my dad for so many years. People thought he was crazy talking about toxins and treating our bodies with vitamins instead of running to the doctor for every cough or sore throat. I thought he was crazy. I scoffed. I rolled my eyes. And the worst part of all, I learned to tune out my father’s advice.

Fast forward, and it turns out my dad was right all those years. The studies he was reading about and the people he was listening to turned out to be right. Our everyday products for cleaning house, bathing, and cooking contain toxins that eventually show up in our bodies as health problems.

I wish I had listened to my dad then. Now I know what he felt like when people scoffed at him and gave the argument that we’ve been using all this stuff for years and we’re doing just fine. I used to think if all these products were so harmful then they wouldn’t be allowed to sell them. Ha!

Now I get scoffed at and watch friends and family roll their eyes when I choose not to use a certain product or food offered to me and explain why. I watch it happen to others as well. It’s even gone as far as fellow Christians treating some of us like we don’t think God can heal us directly or miraculously anymore.

Um, excuse me? Say what? I don’t recall myself or the others I know saying anything about not believing in God for healing. I can’t speak for them, but I absolutely believe God can heal. I also believe in miracles. I didn’t realize that choosing a more natural lifestyle canceled out my belief in God’s ability to heal. I’ve just become much more aware on how I can be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to my health.

Let me put it this way. Would you expect God to heal your lung cancer while continuing to smoke a pack a day? I wouldn’t. Part of trusting God is doing our part too. If we are able to do something, we should be doing it. You don’t pray, “God, change my life,” and continue with the exact same routine every day.

I get that those of us who are passionate about using healthier products and eating better foods come across as way too pushy. Sometimes, we get a little too passionate. And sometimes you get a few who have that pushy nature with everything they do. We, unfortunately, also get labeled due to several of the natural product companies being multi-level marketing companies. Whether it’s a healthy shake, essential oils, or a vitamin infused coffee we use, we receive backlash just by the type of company.

Since making the change to more natural products and less processed food in our home, my husband and I have been healthier. I know those who drink their natural shakes and maintain a healthier weight and higher energy levels and have family who experience less pain and more energy by drinking their vitamin infused coffee each morning.

Nature isn’t new. As technology progressed, so did man’s ways of making his own food and medicine. Society became accustomed to the modern food and medicine, even if it wasn’t better for us. Once health problems started rising and some started speaking up, we began to turn back to what was there all along.

So, if you want to roll your eyes, go ahead. If you want to ignore us, go ahead. But I will not be quiet when it comes to questioning my relationship with my Maker because somebody else doesn’t believe that the resources He gave us can do more for us if we use them correctly.

Again, I can’t speak for others, but I am working on educating while being less pushy. I can’t help if some people are just defensive in general when it comes to opening their minds and trying things a different way. And by no means is my household 100% natural, but it’s a lot better than it use to be. Contrary to what some may think, even changing out a few things is better than changing nothing. It all adds up.

So, makes some changes or don’t. I’ll love you anyway, even if you choose to scoff at me.

Be healthy!

Be blessed!

Be brave!

xoxo

Ash

Punishing Others

Do you punish people in your life? Let’s look at a few ways we tend to punish others as adults and may not realize that we are doing it.

Punishing a Spouse – This is a big one. Have you ever punished your spouse by withholding anything? Laundry, dinner, or dare I say affection…? Maybe he didn’t notice the sparkling kitchen you spent hours cleaning, which caused you to think “let’s see if he notices when I don’t clean.” Maybe he didn’t fix the loose cabinet door, the leaky faucet, or something else you’ve been begging him to fix for several weeks. So, you decide to punish him by not showing affection. Have you done things like this? I have, and my actions didn’t create any better results. Your spouse is not your child. Communicate and ask for changes in an adult manner, with love and respect.

Punishing a Friend – How do you treat a friend that upsets you or doesn’t do what you want them to do? Do you punish them by telling them you’re too busy to hang out? Do you get back at them for not answering you soon enough by not responding to them at all? Maybe you go do something with another friend and post about it just for spite. It happens. Wanting to punish a friend is not loving. Allow your friends to make mistakes. Allow them to do things how they want as long as there is give and take overall. If you don’t let things go or address the issues and move on, it could eventually destroy a friendship.

Punishing Fellow Christians – It happens too, even at church. We expect more out of fellow believers, especially at church, because church is supposed to be a place where you can trust others to show love and forgiveness. However, I have seen and experienced punishment in the church through someone giving a cold shoulder, not being asked to participate in certain groups, or not being allowed to serve where best-suited because I or someone else couldn’t help when or where it was requested. Punishing someone inside the church doesn’t draw them closer. It pushes them away. Church is supposed to be a safe place for love and correction, not grudges and punishment.

Often times, when you punish someone for not doing what you want them to do or for hurting you, you end up making matters worse for yourself too. When you punish someone, you are inflicting suffering. That’s what punishing means. Think about this for a second. Do you really what to inflict suffering on your spouse, a friend, or inside the church? If you want someone to do something for you, or do something a certain way, then go about in a loving manner. Don’t punish someone for hurting you or not doing what you want.

People are going to hurt you sometimes. Nobody is perfect. Paying them back by punishing them is not the answer. Love and forgive.

“Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.” 1 Thes. 5:15

Be brave!

Be blessed!

xoxo

Ash

My Morning Routine and Prayer

My Morning Routine and Prayer

My morning routine starts with praying.

When I get out of bed, I start with thanking God for the day ahead. I pray for individual family members and friends every morning. I may add in friends or family at times when I know of specific needs, but my closest friends and family get prayed over daily.

After my prayer time, I read scripture. Sometimes I pick a specific book and read through it. Sometimes I start over with the New Testament and read through that. After reading, I usually write in my journal. My journal writing varies from goals and dreams to my current thoughts or daily happenings. Generally, this morning time is done with the glow of the living room lamp and a cup of coffee. I recently gave up coffee again though. So, now it’s either hot tea or peppermint water, something warm and soothing. I love my morning routine. It’s a nice calm start to my day.

I used to see prayer as a bedtime routine and something that was done at church. It was a habit to just say my prayers before bed or pray when the pastor said to bow our heads.

A few years ago, one of my uncles and I were talking about something, and I said, “All I can do is pray.” He told me not to say it like that. He said that prayer isn’t just all we can do; it’s what we can do. That stuck with me.

Prayer isn’t meant to be some last resort. It’s part of our relationship with God. It’s spending time with him. Although my uncle’s words had an impact on me, it took going through the most difficult year of my life for me to really understand that. During that year, I was no longer just praying each time something went wrong. I was thanking God more often for the things that were good and things yet to come. And although it looked like I couldn’t do anything to fix the situation, I learned the importance of shifting from “God fix this” to “God fix me.”

Lord, give me the strength. Give me the grace. Give me the words to say. Give me peace while this storm rages on.

That year changed the way I pray. And yes, prayer is part of my morning routine, but it’s not just a part of my routine. It’s important to me. I also pray at various times throughout the day. It may be while I’m cleaning house, taking a shower, or on my way to the grocery store.

When I pray for myself, I confess my current shortcomings and ask for forgiveness and help in those areas before asking for other things.

Spending more time praying has given me more hope and peace.

Do you have an established peaceful morning routine and/or prayer time?

If not, I encourage you to work on one. If your house is chaos with kiddos in the mornings, maybe try praying while you get breakfasts and lunches ready, while you take a shower, or on your way to work.

Pray continually. (1 Thes. 5:17)

Make time to pray and have a better day.

Be brave!

Be blessed!

xoxo

Ash

Hurt Feelings

Hurt Feelings and Lessons to Learn

Let’s talk about hurt feelings. A few months ago, I hurt someone’s feelings. This person asked for feedback on something, and I gave my feedback in a private message. I struggled with how to say it correctly though. Because I was trying to sugarcoat it instead of just being direct and giving examples, I went about saying it in a long way, which sounded worse. That person took it the wrong way and became defensive. I was accused of basically attacking her character and having an ulterior motive. I tried to explain myself and ended up being blocked and reported for bullying and harassment. All of that, just for responding to a post specifically asking for feedback.

I sincerely wasn’t trying to hurt this person. She asked for feedback, I gave it, and I became a “mean” girl. I even read the messages to my husband in case I was blinded by my own feelings. He didn’t think my responses were cause for being blocked and reported at all. I was pretty shocked by how it all escalated.

After a few months of reflection on the situation, I’ve realized there are some lessons to remember from this.

First off, we don’t get to choose whether or not we hurt someone’s feelings. That’s for them to decide, not us. Although I didn’t mean to hurt her, I obviously did, given the defensiveness, accusations towards me, and the outcome. If I had known how things were going to go, then I never would have responded at all since I was not trying to hurt her. And that leads me to the next lesson.

Just because someone says they have grown and can handle feedback in areas where they could improve in, it doesn’t mean they will ACTUALLY handle it well. You always take a risk of hurting someone’s feelings when one wants feedback on ways to improve. So, I suggest you choose your words wisely, which I thought I did, and look where that got me. So maybe the best response is “You’re perfect; therefore, I have no suggestions for how you can improve.” I’m kidding, but I’m thinking that must be the only answer people want to hear anyway, right?

Next lesson. Just because someone says something you think is “mean” doesn’t make them a mean person in general. Being misunderstood, well, sucks. Sometimes good people say or do the wrong things. When you’re dealing with written communication, you have the words on the screen and that’s it. You don’t get to see the look in that person’s eyes, the way they are standing, or hear the tone of their voice. These visual cues can actually help us in understanding someone’s intentions. When you think about this, completely writing someone off over a misunderstood message that hurt your feelings is a bit extreme.

Honestly, I wish I could go back and just hit delete, undo, unsend…anything to just reverse that situation, but I can’t. What’s done is done.

Looking back, I think I overanalyzed how I should have worded things, which made it worse. I should’ve kept it direct but graceful or not responded at all.

This situation has caused me to shut down a bit and take a step back because as that person probably felt betrayed, I did too. I felt betrayed for getting so quickly kicked to the curb for being misunderstood in answering a question. It’s caused me to wonder why I should respond to anyone at all. Why say anything if I risk that happening again? Why even try to connect with people if they can write you off so easily?

Because…

We need each other. We need friends. We need to feel connected to other humans.

I really don’t think we should just go around telling everyone they’re perfect every time they ask for feedback. People can’t grow and improve if they don’t see the areas where there’s room to do so. However, there are obviously risks when it comes to asking for feedback and giving feedback. As the inquiring party, you face hearing things you might not be ready to hear, and as the responding party you might get misunderstood or face the risk of losing a friend over hurt feelings.

Be prepared for tough answers when you ask tough questions, and don’t be so quick to write people off, especially over one situation.

May you still be brave enough to speak up…but gracefully.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Col 4:6 NIV)

Be brave!

Be blessed!

xoxo

Ash