Just say, “NO!”

SOMETIMES, we just need to learn to say, “NO!”

We heard this statement many times on television through those anti-drug commercials of the 80’s. We heard it month after month, encouraging all to not give into the enticing voices of culture and drug dealers who would lie and say, “Just a little won’t hurt you!”

Yet, we seem to have moved further and further from the totality of this sentiment as we’ve become a “tolerant society” that seems more bent on pushing one agenda or another rather than actually saying, “No” to many things to which we need. We seem to have risen to a new level of “tolerance” where every cultural opinion must be agreed to, or we risk being called a racist, fascist or just simply a bigot. As I’ve stated before, just because I disagree with you does not mean I hate you.

I disagree with my husband at times; yet, he is my best friend, my confidante and my love. I disagree with my children, especially when their decisions will put them in dangerous situations; yet, I love them so much, I’d lay my life down for them. My loyalty may not run as deep for you or for those with whom I disagree and do not know personally, but it does not mean I harbor hate within my heart simply because of my disagreement.

Yet, because of my own experiences, life choices and personal convictions, you and I may not agree on all things. Ya know what? That is completely ok! You may live your life quite differently than mine, and that’s ok, too. That’s actually part of living, and that part of being an individual and having your own choices.

Being of different opinions is okay, too. However, when those opinions begin infringing upon someone else’s personal wellbeing, there should be a wake up call. When those agendas or disagreements come with an expectation of agreement and are followed with a demand of approval or a threat of consequences if not adhered, then, a separation and distance should be put into place for those involved.

Sometimes, we just need to find the courage to say, “No,” and stick to our decision. Sometimes, we need to find our backbone and settle into the boundaries we have set for a dangerous relationship or a rebellious child or a consistently wounding acquaintance and resolve to leave it there. Sometimes, we need to cut the ties with that toxic person in our life with whom only turmoil and chaos resides.

Sometimes, for our own sanity, peace of mind and personal wellbeing, we must look at the “appointment book” of our life and reply to their request,

“No, Thursday’s out. … Yeah, Friday’s out, too. … How about never – is never good for you?”

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Say it with me… “NO.”

Boundaries are made to keep you healthy. Boundaries are given to keep toxicity out. Boundaries are taken from those who never set them. Boundaries are best when set, supported and reinforced.

Sometimes, we are living a life that is tiresome, weary and chaotic, because we continue to allow others to ignore the boundaries we’d like to have but never really put into place. Sometimes, our hearts are in utter turmoil, because we continue to complain about our conditions of relationship but never take steps to change them.

Boundaries are needed for peace to be found. Boundaries are necessary for joy to be restored. Boundaries are essential for sanity to be maintained.

How strong are your boundaries?

It’s All Gone

When our words are cross 

Time stands still

All the joy is gone

And I can’t find my will

When our looks are stern

Clouds roll in

All the fun times are gone 

And the wages are sin

When silence is strong 

Darkness falls

All the laughter is gone

And the buildings are walls

When you’re not with me 

Life turns gray

All the sunshine hides

And I can’t find the day

Please come back to me…

Penned – MG – 5/11/17

Hypocritical Resolution

I don’t usually post anything on Fridays other than the New Angle game, but in light of last night’s tragedy, my heart is heavy today, and my pen longs to bleed… 

The screams of “our lives matter” and demands for justice for the death of brothers, with the resulting applause for the stealing of the lives of the very men sworn to protect all, reveal a heart of hypocrisy. 

Your life doesn’t carry significance simply because of its tone or contrast. One life is not of higher quality due to its origin. The value of your life is just that: because you are a living, breathing human being

The lives that were slaughtered near the midnight hour on July 7 were not lives of value because of their skin color, and they were not wielding swords to kill their assassins. They did not throw fiery darts just before the bullets pierced their ashen skin. 

No, these men and women were standing watch on a wall. Sworn to defend and protect the innocent lives who stood in protest. Doesn’t matter if these fallen soldiers were or weren’t in agreement with the march; their oath was to defend, to protect, and to shield the innocent from harm. Yet, while they stood as pillars of strength, men of cowardly hearts came with evil intent and annihilated the very strength on which our nation stands. 

This strength does not come because of the color of skin you were birthed nor does it remain because of the hues you now have gained. This strength comes from fighting day in and day out for the cause of the innocent. This strength is birthed in the chambers of integrity, love and a desire for peace among all. This strength is paid for at all cost. For life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is not so easily won. It is not simply obtained because you wish it so. 

Do we really believe the hypocrisy in the killings will bring about peace and restoration? Unbridled anger never resolved anything with any person. I’ve heard it said, “Anger makes room for the unthinkable.” 

This was proven on this night, the 7th day of July. Anger has brought division. Division has brought unbridled anger as it has led to hypocrisy and injustice. Injustice will continue as the innocent are killed for the sake of retribution. For unbridled anger will never bring peace, only more blood shed and the loss of freedom, peace and any hope for restoration. 

God, please forgive us and heal our nation. Please bring unity and rest. Protect the innocent and open the eyes of all. For You are the only One who can save us! We must reach out across the aisles. We must lay down our agendas for the sake of our future. We must seek a higher call than ourselves and selfish ambition. 

  
“A man of great wrath will suffer punishment; For if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.” Proverbs 19:19

“Make no friendship with an angry man, And with a furious man do not go, Lest you learn his ways And set a snare for your soul.” Proverbs 22:24

“A wrathful man stirs up strife, But he who is slow to anger allays contention.” Proverbs 15:18

Will You Fan The Flame?

I was reminded the other day of an analogy I shared with youth camp workers many years ago, and I thought I’d reshare it with you today…

In every situation, you hold in your hands water and gasoline. The one you choose will determine the outcome of the given situation.

For instance, if you find yourself in the middle of a gossip situation, and you’re wondering what you should do, you have a choice. You can pour gasoline on the flames to fuel the stories, or you can pour water to put them out.

If your child comes running to you in fear, whether it be a dramatized fantasy or a realistic paranoia, what you do in that next moment matters. Sometimes, it will determine the growth of courage or a lasting lifetime fear. Do you throw the gasoline or water?

If your co-worker is infuriated with your boss because of a legitimate injustice being served, what do you do? You hold water and gasoline within your power.

If your friend is in desperate need of a life change. Maybe you know Christ, but you’ve been a little intimidated by their rejection of this saving grace. You know what peace you have found in your moments of fear, of anger and of brokenness; yet, you’ve hesitated to share your story. You hold water and gasoline within your grasp. Which will you choose??

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

Fight To Win

A-Soldier-of-the-Cross-full

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We, as Christians, are often called “soldiers of the cross;” yet, I wonder sometimes in today’s society, if we know what that really means. We get so caught up in fighting with our children to obey or fighting with our spouse to see things our way or even fighting with our fellow man to follow our opinions and our judgements that I think we might have forgotten where the real battlefield lies and what the real spoils and consequences are.
Just last week, I read a blog by a straight, conservative, preacher’s wife, someone who could be a lot like me, who spent a whole article telling me why she didn’t care about the new bathroom policies at Target, and how “I” (or those who disagree) am not necessarily showing love by boycotting them. I read comments by Christians who hated her for it and atheists who praised her for it. Can I tell you BOTH are wrong?? The one party is killing their own and the other isn’t challenged to change. 

I read other articles in which Christians were ‘killing each other’ with their words and demanding their way to be the right way, while I turn the page in The Voice of Martyrs to read of the pastor’s family who pray for their little church meeting secretly in their war-torn village. I hear of the Body of Christ “fighting and clawing” at each other over this opinion or that, this politician, that official, this viewpoint or that, all the while, reading again in The Voice of the Martyrs, of the pastor who has been arrested for his belief in God and the workers in foreign lands who are desperately sharing the Gospel with the lost, even as it costs them their very lives.

Can I tell you, our battle is NOT against flesh and blood, and it will not be won by our seeking after man’s approval, worldly possessions, or cultural agreement? Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” 1 Peter 5:8 reminds us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

We cannot fight these enemies with just our opinions and judgement calls, nor with our monetary means, nor by simply being tolerant and kind when they demand us to be. We cannot fight them with the conventional words or actions of man’s wisdom. God’s kingdom doesn’t work this way! Just as David didn’t win the battle with Goliath by following the instruction of Saul (he told him to wear the king’s armor), we cannot win this battle for the next generation by following the instruction of this world!

We must stop focusing on tearing each other down, or even tearing down the sinner in his sin, and focus on the REAL battle. We must return to our prayer closets and get on our knees in prayer! We must return to our days of fasting and our meals of His daily bread. We must redress with God’s Armor and join forces with our fellow brothers and sisters to win this battle! It is up to us to pick up our shields of faith, swing out swords of truth and win for the King of kings and the Lord of Lords! It is time for the Redeemed of the Lord to say so! It is time to let GOD be the victor!!

I believe God is stirring His people back to this. I believe He is rising up an army who are not fighting as the world is fighting. They are fighting this battle in private prayer and with public words of truth. It may not be a popular stand, and it may not win you approval ratings with the crowd, but the lives of our children are at stake, and the lives of those who can be won for the kingdom are weighing in the balance.

We must fight this battle God’s way, and we must fight to WIN!

 

Forgiveness With A Boundary

 Sometimes, we just have to forgive, simply, because He says so. It may not be easy. It may not be what we want, and it may definitely not be what the other person deserves, but God is very clear in this fact: We Must Forgive. Yet, forgiveness does not always mean reconciliation…

Many times, it may take years to find the ability to forgive, and sometimes, it will come instantly. Some of the hardest moments to forgive are those when someone continues to cause pain and wounds on top of the scars you have already endured. That’s when the real test comes, “Can you forgive…again?”

However, I think, oftentimes for me, the harder test comes as I struggle with the balance between learning to “forgive and walk away” and “forgive and reconcile” when someone continually wounds me, especially when it’s someone for whom I care deeply. It’s easier to forgive and walk away when you don’t have to deal with them daily. It’s easier to forgive and walk away when they’re not family or a close friend. It’s so easy when you can forgive and never worry about seeing them again, but what about those who keep knocking down your door?

As a young child and even as an adult, when someone hurt me, I would always have the tendency to ‘go back for more’ before I cut them off completely and became unforgiving. Not everyone’s problem, I know, but it’s still a problem that must be solved, because this kind of tendency will cause codependency, abuse and lack of boundaries for a healthy life. We must learn to forgive, but we must, also, learn when to say, “No more.”

As I’ve grown older, both in age and in wisdom, I have learned that true forgiveness does not always bring true reconciliation. Sometimes, that other person is just wrong. Sometimes, the other party is too abusive, codependent, mean or just plain cruel, and you are better off to forgive and walk away than to return to the relationship. You have to learn to do this for your own well being, your own health, and your own sanity.

I call this “forgiveness with a boundary.” It doesn’t mean you don’t forgive, and it doesn’t mean you don’t love and care for the person; however, it does mean you draw a line in the sand and say, “No more after today. This is now your boundary into my life. You can come this far but no further. You will not continue to break through and wound my heart to the point I cannot function and live the life I am supposed to live.”

Just as an abused child must learn it’s not okay to be abused, those who have relationships with people who have no boundaries must learn it’s not okay to be used. It’s okay to say no to the abuse of your emotions, your mind and your heart. As I’ve already stated, it’s okay to set boundaries for your life to protect your well being, your health, and your sanity.

This has been my hard lesson learned:

You are a daughter of the Almighty God! You are a daughter of the King! You were not made to grovel in self pity nor in codependency. You were not made to be a doormat. You were not made to be a yo-yo, always up and down with the emotions, feelings and thoughts of others. You are destined to be so much more!

You were created to be YOU, a child of a King! You are a precious, beautiful jewel and you should be treated as such. Stop living with your head held low, always looking to the ground. Look up! For your Redeemer has come. He loves you, and He has called you to be so much more!!

If you find yourself in that kind of place today, in that place of hopelessness, pain and abuse of any kind. I hope you will be encouraged to know there is a better way. There is hope and freedom beyond where you are. He has made it possibly for you to live beyond your pain, beyond your fears and beyond your intimidations!

Thank you, Jesus, for redeeming me and  forgiving me. Thank you for helping me to forgive, and thank you for helping me to learn how to walk away from hurtful people and to live in the freedom you’ve given me and for showing me how to live victoriously! ❤️

I Don’t Hate You. I Just Disagree. 

source: pinterest.com

There is so much in the news these days about this group hating that group, those people wanting to wound or even kill the people in another “club,” and this one and that one can’t speak, or it’s considered hate speech. Now, please note, I am NOT about to go off on a political tirade, or a politically correct debate, nor am I even about to discuss my own opinions and standards. That’s not what this post will be about.

I just want to say something, and I want to make it eternally clear: Just because I disagree with you DOES NOT mean I hate you!! Ok, I’m glad I got that off my chest. I almost put the whole sentence in all caps, but I don’t want you thinking I’m shouting at you; even though, I would like to shout this from the rooftops.

 

Source: pinterest.com

I am so tired of the false allegations from so many in today’s society who scream “hate speech” when you simply disagree with what someone else is doing or how they are acting. I know there are those who wear ‘the same hats’ as I do, and they may have really meant for their words to be filled with hatred, and this has paved a hard road ahead for me. Yet, do you have to punish every good person with every nut case?

Yes, I am a white, middle class, conservative, American, Christian woman, and I am very proud of my God, my country and my family. I will defend these and stand by these until the end, but that does not mean that I hate the next person simply because he or she disagrees with me, because he is of a different race, because she is of a different political persuasion, or because he has more or less money than I do. Just because we are different doesn’t mean we can’t live civil. It may mean we agree not to discuss our differences all the time, especially if one or both parties can’t handle too much. It may mean we voice our beliefs with truth and confidence, but give some space for others to do so. That’s called living. That’s called being an individual. … or at least, it used to be.

Do I believe my way is the right way? This may come as a shock to you; so, wait for it… NO! Do I believe the way of my God, the Creator of this universe, the Savior of my soul, is the right and true, very best way to live? YES! Am I going to share my faith, hoping you find the same unconditional love, unspeakable joy, and unfathomable peace I have? YES!

This does not mean I hate you when I disagree with what you are doing or how you are living. When I state my standards differently than you, it doesn’t make me better than you nor does it make you better than me. When I see things differently, it simply means I want to see better for you.

The whole new motto trend of “live and let live” bothers me, in that, if we simply let those around us live as they choose, and we live as we choose, with no moral authority guiding us, we all will, eventually, encounter dangers that could have been avoided, or we will begin infringing upon another with the “new found freedom” we believe we have. This becomes an unfair and dangerous approach for all involved.

Do you realize that confrontation is the highest form of love?

When my friends are doing something that I can see might harm them, I try to tell them the danger ahead. It may not change what they think, but I am responsible for speaking up. If my kids are playing in the street, and a car is coming around the corner, I’m going to run and holler for them to get out of the street, not because I’m trying to display my hatred toward them, but because I am trying to prevent them from being killed! If my colleagues are standing too close to the cliff when we’re hiking, I might say, “Hey, that slope is real slippery. You might want to be careful.” If I don’t speak up to any of these situations, and one of them gets killed, I am partially responsible, because I could have helped them remain among the living!!

I will speak up, because I care enough about their well being to confront them. This confrontation doesn’t always have to be loud, abrupt or even mean, but it does have to be truthful. It does have to be authentic, and it does have to be spoken from a heart that is genuinely concerned and filled with love.

Does that mean I’ll never mess up in my confrontations? Does that mean I will never get passionate about my beliefs and debate why I am standing by those beliefs? No. As I stated earlier, I have several high priorities in my life, and I will defend these. I will hold true to those things I cherish but that still doesn’t mean I am filled with hate.

Let me put this on a more personal level…My sons are 10 and 14 years old, and there have been times when I have had to confront them for their actions that had brought harm or pain in some situation; yet, when I spoke to them, even if I was upset and passionate about what I had to say, I never once hated them! I confront, because I love them, and I want to help them get to a better place in life. Christ did this very thing on so many occasions. He always confronts those He loves, and I am called to be more like Him and so much less like me.

So, if you and I ever disagree on a subject, especially if we have forged a friendship before this given time, please know my speaking up is never out of dislike of you as a person. If I love you, I pray I will always have the courage to confront you, and my hope is you would care enough to do the same. 💗

Daily Prompt: Disagree

To Speak or Not To Speak

For our relationships to be healed, mended and restored, we must speak up and be heard, but we must also shut up and listen. Sometimes, what you are assuming leads to misunderstanding and confusion. Sometimes, what you are avoiding leads to brokenness and pain.

Proverbs 17:27-28 tells us, “He who has knowledge spares his words, And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.” Maybe, you need to slow down and listen more. I had a teacher in my young life who said, “God gave you two ears and one mouth. Learn which one He wants you to use more.” This has really stuck with me through the years.

 

Maybe you contend that it’s easier for me to stop and listen than it is for the next guy. Maybe my introverted personality affords me more latitude. This doesn’t mean the next guy is necessarily excused from the need, from the expectancy of others. This doesn’t mean he has a better excuse than I. No, it just simply means he might need to work a little harder to open his ears and shut his mouth.

Other times, it’s better to speak up and be heard than to remain silent. In just a few chapters later, in the book of Proverbs, this instruction is given to us, “Open your mouth for the speechless, In the cause of all who are appointed to die. Open your mouth, judge righteously, And plead the cause of the poor and needy.” Sometimes, when you remain silent, what you are feeling is not simple discomfort, it is pure conviction for what you are observing, hearing and the situation of which you are allowing yourself to be a part. When you remain silent, your actions further condone what is happening. If it is wrong, speak truth. Stop violence. Stop harm against the innocent. Stop evil with your bold speech.

 

 

I could argue that, maybe it’s easier for you to speak louder than it is for me. Maybe your extroverted personality allows you more fortitude. This doesn’t mean I am excused from the necessity of expression, from the desperation of the wounded. This doesn’t mean I have a better excuse than you. No, it just simply means I must put more effort in the articulation of my voice.

The perfect balance comes between the tension of knowing when to speak and when to remain silent. It comes from the acknowledgment for the need of both and seeking the right one at the perfect moment. It comes in knowing our own weaknesses and strengths and drawing from them both for the courage to do right, and finding our passion in one and releasing our will for another.

That is the beauty of conflict and the harmony of perfect peace.

 

Friction to Thrive

There will be no sharpening of iron without friction. – rev. James Robison   

It’s a scary place to be…on the edge of a knife. Wondering what to do, where to go, knowing one step can determine our destiny. In that moment, all can be gained or all can be lost. The choice is ours to make. It is never happenstance. 

Friction shakes things up. Friction causes change, and friction causes a sharpening which cannot be found in the mundane moments of life. Yes, friction is needed in our lives to transform us from who we once were and propel us to who we are to become. 

Often, many will choose to avoid this moment of tension, this moment of inner conflict, this opportunity for change. Some avoid it out of fear. Some avoid it out of pain. Some even avoid it out of sheer laziness. Whatever your reason, I can assure you of this truth: no matter your situation, and no matter your reasoning, every time you avoid that moment of friction, you become dull. You lose your edge. You may even miss the mark for a lifetime. 

Sometimes, you can return. You might regain that sharpness. Sometimes, you can resume your cutting edge; yet, you are never guaranteed its return. You are never promised that repeated opportunity. There are some options which only come once in a lifetime, and all too often, those options come with friction. 

The decision must be made before the conflict arises. The choice must be made today, not tomorrow. We must have a made up mind before the opportunity comes knocking. Don’t let life overwhelm you. Never let circumstances dictate your destiny. You are not a victim. Your life is not simple happenstance. 

Choose you this day. Make up your mind, and chase your dreams. Make life happen all around you, and when you feel that friction, embrace it. Push against it. Stand tall in the midst of it. You will find it’s like a mighty sailboat, caught in the perfect winds on the sea. When the sails, the rutter, and the winds are all caught in perfect tension, that huge vessel will sail with great speed and with ease. 

So, find that place of perfect friction. Embrace those conflicts which come with tenacity and vigor. Thrive in that moment of tension, and sail on, my friend. Sail on.