Re-dos: Fostering Repentance and Forgiveness

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22

If you have followed Jesus and studied his life you know he is the prime example of love and grace. When I read Jesus’ interactions with people in the Bible, I see that he forgave people and their hearts were forever changed.

But, he also upheld boundaries for those who were hard-hearted and not willing to receive the truth. Jesus instructed his disciples to “shake the dust off their feet” when not received by a town. Jesus set a boundary.

In my own parenting, I am seeking the balance, the dance, the perfect marriage between forgiveness and boundaries.

One way in which I am doing this is with “re-dos”. This is not a new concept, but it sure is effective.

Here is how I use the “re-do”.

Child walks right through an adult conversation, immediately jumps into what they want to say. I make eye contact with the child and then gesture to the adults around me, drawing the child’s attention to the others. Then I say, “Let’s try that again.” The child then goes around the group, comes back by my side, placing her hand on my arm while she waits her turn.

Or a child snaps at her sister in a loud, rude tone and I say, “Can we try that again?” She then has the chance to use the tone she would have liked to have used the first time around.

In these examples, I am setting the boundary of what behavior I am willing to accept and what behavior needs correcting. And, I am also able to see the child’s heart and grant forgiveness.

Another way I use “re-dos” is for myself! When I am having a mindful moment, I might hear myself say something in a tone I’d rather not use. So, I will say to my child, “Can I have a “re-do”? And, then I proceed to take a deep breath and try it again. This allows the child the chance to forgive me and our relationship can be restored.

These “re-dos” foster learning, repentance, and forgiveness. My impulsive response, lacking self-control, can be reframed in my mind, draw me closer to God for change, and give my child the chance to forgive me. And, my child’s impulsive interrupting can physically be changed by realizing what went wrong and how she can improve it. I, then, see how she intended to behave and I can forgive and move on.

These “re-dos” remind me of the Lord’s new mercies which are new every morning. Every morning I wake up, I have received a “re-do” from the Lord! What a gift! What a gift I can also give to my children.

 Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

forgiveness

 

The Story of Two Hard Hearts

And, he looked around at them with anger, grieved by their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. Mark 3:5

This is the story of two hard hearts. In order for the one heart to soften, the first had to soften. As the one heart remained hard, so did the other.

Heart rock

The two hearts belonged to a mother and daughter duo.

The mother’s heart held expectations. Expectations in which she would perform in a certain prescribed way, and the daughter, in turn, would perform in the expected manner. The mother would lay out her high expectations. She would not give in or flex in any way. She would maintain a rigid schedule. And, the daughter would respond appropriately. Theirs would be a perfect dance. Perfect harmony. The perfect equation. Mom’s actions + daughter’s reactions = Harmony.

The daughter’s heart held needs. Needs which required being met in order to move on to later stages. Needs which held a high significance in her life and did not let up. The daughter carried these needs with her each and every day. Although she was not able to express her needs, they continued to haunt her as they went unmet.

Little by little, the mom in this story became disenchanted when her actions did not result in control or change in the daughter’s behavior. Thus a hard heart took root in the mother.

Also, little by little, the daughter found the mom unresponsive to her needs. And her inability to keep up with the demands left her sad. Thus a hard heart took root in the daughter.

Two hard hearts.

In Mark chapter 3, Jesus looked around at the Pharisees and was grieved by their hard hearts.  At that same time, the man in need of healing received instruction from Jesus to stretch out his hand. Jesus restored him! Hallelujah!

With their hard hearts, the Pharisees were unable to see what Jesus was up to. But the man with the withered hand followed a different pattern. He came to Jesus in the synagogue with his need. Then he listened to Jesus’ instruction and he obeyed. This resulted in restoration and his need being met. 

Back to the story of the two hard hearts. As the mom experienced more and more failure and heartbreak, she found herself at the end of her own resources. Finally, humbling herself, she cried out to God, “What must I do to teach this child? How will I ever get through to her?”

God in His great mercy began to shed His light on the whole situation. He began to show, the now humble mother, just what her daughter needed. The mother’s heart broke at how she had missed the mark. Her desperation for the Lord’s intervention and wisdom increased.

She listened to the Lord and she obeyed.

And little by little the relationship between the mother and daughter was restored.

Little by little, the once hard, wounded, selfish hearts were restored to soft, healed, connected hearts.

me and abby

Church at the Lab

Yesterday a group of precious teen girls and I commiserated about the difficulty of sharing our faith with a world that is easily offended. “I don’t really talk about my faith with my friends at school. I just don’t know how.” One by one, each girl confessed their struggle to share God outside of the church. I, being 30 years older than most of the girls, agreed. It’s a challenge in a world so consumed with the possibility of offending someone.

Walking into the lab this morning, I saw the room filled with people such as myself. Some did not appear ill and others visibly weakened by whatever ailment they had. But, even those who looked healthy, had a story. They were at the lab so a doctor or a team of doctors could meticulously check their blood for any abnormalities. Each person was either entering a trial, in the middle of one, or possibly just coming out of one.

And, right there in that dark lab, God planted one of His saints. God opened my ears to a man who’s vocabulary only included his faith.

“I see a miracle happening here!”

“God’s doing something in you.”

“I think He’s healing you.”

“Oh, it’s going to be good.”

In the cold, sterile, underground lab, I attended church. Along with about 50 other  patients and lab technicians, we heard and saw faith lived out.

business glove health healthcare
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I didn’t receive a church bulletin. But I was definitely welcomed.

There was no group prayer. But prayers were being uttered.

No worship songs were sung. But worship was heard.

No Bible to be seen. But God’s word was being shared.

We were in the Lords house. Simply because one saint chose to live out his faith with every breath, every word spoken, every interaction he faced.

He didn’t speak anything profound or even planned. Yet it was purposeful and prophetic.

He simply included his faith in his everyday life. His faith was his life and there was no hanging it up at the door upon entering his workplace.

I thank God for showing me this saint in the middle of the bleak weariness of the lab. I thank God for the practical example of living out faith.

“Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1: 22

Seek Him and Brush Your Teeth!

Yesterday I didn’t smile.

Yesterday I didn’t look my girls in the eye.

Yesterday I didn’t brush my teeth until the afternoon.

These confessions glare what kind of day I had yesterday.

Last night, when my youngest daughter asked if we could have our monthly breakfast date in the morning, I said, “No.” Don’t worry, I went on to explain why. I told her about how I had not had my quiet time in the morning and my whole day went downhill from there.

Now, truth be told, it wasn’t just the missing quiet time with the Lord that did me in. It was literally not taking a second to slow down and hear from the Lord all day. He is so good to me. When I slow down, and seek Him, He shows me what I need in each given moment. Maybe it’s fresh air, a nap, His word, a snack, a tough conversation, time with my husband. But when I just plow through the day, I am useless.

This morning, the Lord brought to my mind the image of the flight attendant reminding parents to first place the oxygen mask on themself and then tend to their children.

That is how today looks.

Placing the oxygen mask on myself first today looks like: taking time to study God’s word and be filled up through prayer, exercising with weights and sweat, making a green smoothie, listening to piano hymns, taking a shower AND brushing my teeth, and letting my girls sleep in so they get what they so needed.

IMG_0100

Dear One, it is not selfish to take care of yourself. God loves you so much. He does not want you to neglect yourself. You are not able to serve Him if you are completely spent. Seek Him today!

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

Update: at 10:00 am when my youngest daughter finally surfaced and asked once again about our breakfast date, I could answer, “Yes!” Thank you, Oxygen Mask! You truly are my Savior!

Making Me New

hanging basketsMy sweet husband bought me my annual Mother’s Day present, hanging baskets from Costco. I look forward to this colorful gift each year. And, I mourn the end of the season in late summer when I have to throw them out.

These flowers, all contained in plastic, under flourescent lights in the Costco warehouse. Waiting to be nourished with water, sunlight, and Miracle Grow. Waiting for the freedom of fresh air, bees to pollinate, and the occasional rain to add hydration.

My eyes fix on these flowers. Still positioned in their cramped style. As if the plastic is still holding them. I note how they just seem to be stunned by the blazing sunshine hitting their stems, leaves, and blossoms. They didn’t know what awaited them. The life that they were meant to have was just one costumer away. One car ride away. One strong arm to hang them up in all their glory.

Gazing at the restrained beauty of the flowers, my heart and mind drift to my own muted life and how God has shone His light on me.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Yes! The new creation has come! Just as the Costco hanging baskets are basking in their new home, their new life, their new creation, I, too, am basking in the glory of all God has done and is doing in me.

The old is gone! The old dreariness of the warehouse is just a memory for my flowers. The old life, I clung to, in all it’s familiarity, is just a memory.

The new is here! The gentle breeze, the freedom to grow, the warmth of the sun is all new to my flowers and they delight in it. And, the peace to take deep breaths, the gentleness to slow down and see what He’s doing, the fulfllling love He is lavishing on me is here.

Amen! May it be so! May it be so for you, Dear One!

Help Me, God!

Help me God

Help me, God!

I am listening, child

My simple cry

I am here with you

My hope-filled words

I keep my promises

Humble

I am your strength

Honest

I know your heart

Healing

I am your healer

What more can I say?

No lengthy prayer required

Not trying to impress

I am pleased with you, my creation

Just leaning in to the Savior

My ear is attuned to your prayer

With my heart’s cry

I know your heart

Help me, God!

I am your helper

 

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” Psalm 91:14-15

The Power of Life and Death

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21

My encouraging friend, who lives out Proverbs 18:21, sent me that verse the other morning. Every morning I receive a nugget of wisdom from her. Because God has proven to me time and time again that nothing worth anything is ever  by chance, I take what she sends me to heart.

For years, I have been aware of the power of my words. God began revealing this to me through Joyce Meyers TV broadcasts, where she openly shares her struggles with words and how through God’s Word and power, she has overcome.

bridge

I don’t know about you, but I have set backs in this area. I am not tempted to smoke cigarettes, overeat, or drink alcohol, but I am definitely tempted to criticize, especially those closest to me.

1 Peter 5: 8 tells us that the Devil is watching us, looking for what he can use to destroy us. For me, it tends to be my words. He feeds me the words to say, especially when I am tired, sick, discouraged, or just simply not alert.

But I am so tired of it. I am so tired of Satan having his way with my words. And, I am not powerless against him!

Some truths about taming the tongue (just in case you, too, struggle in this area):

  • I cannot tame my tongue (control my words) in my own power. James 3:8
  • My life will be happier if I obey God with my words. James 1:26
  • My words can bring healing. Proverbs 12:18
  • My words are powerful. James 3:5
  • When my words are gentle, the can bring forth life. Proverbs 15:4

tree of life

Practical ways in which I am obeying God with my words:

  • Making sure my children are looking me in the eye when I give them a compliment. I don’t want my words to go unnoticed. I will say their name or something to get their attention, wait for their eyes, and then speak the words I want to say. I usually benefit  by seeing their face light up in response.
  • Keeping a list on my phone for both of my kids and my husband of compliments I want to give them. Often, I will think of good things about them when I am apart from them. I just make a little note on my phone and then I keep it there until I give them the compliment. Then I put a little check mark symbol after that particular compliment. Once, I am more fluent with my family, I want to add more people to this list.
  • Making sure I am full of God’s truth about me, so that I am not running on empty and have nothing to give.

Dear One, how do you see the power of words at work in your life? I am praying we each see someone we can encourage today.