Sticks and Stones . . .

imageSticks and stones may break my bones but words . . .

Have you ever thought about the effect your words have on people? I was entering an event venue at the invitation of an acquaintance. When entering, I saw this person and was greeted warmly but with the look that says ‘I know I should know you but’, you know the one, right?  It did not bother me in the slightest. Reflecting, however, on our original meeting and invitation, I expected a different response. Though some time has passed and life gets busy, what was clear is that her words had impacted me more than our original meeting had impacted her. Again, I was not hurt or disappointed, it just struck me how causally we use words. We speak and communicate but we are never certain how those words impact or influence the receiver. There is a children’s song that has as a verse,

 ‘O be careful little mouth what you say . . . for the Father up above is looking down with love, O be careful little mouth what you say.’

What we say even in a small group setting impacts and influences others, either negatively or positively. We judge something simple like appearances and comment even jokingly, and these seemingly benign words are received and have consequences. We talk about others, even in Christian circles and even if the person is not present, the hearers of those words forms opinions and thoughts. These thoughts inform behavior and attitudes toward others. Interestingly, when judging another, we typically attribute their deficiencies to character flaws, but when we judge ourselves we attribute those flaws to circumstances. We judge with incomplete information. We do not know everything, or why choices were made. We assume, but we do not know what we do not know. What would happen, especially in Christian circles, where the world is certainly listening and observing, if we guarded our words with as much care as we guard our money or our children.

 John 13:35 says that all people will know we are followers of Jesus Christ when they observe how we love one another.

 Not by how much we give, or stand in opposition to issues and not even how we love the world. The world will know that we follow Christ by how we demonstrate love within our Christian community towards one another. Jesus says in John 12:32 ‘If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to myself.’ The process seems to be we love in community, lifting up Christ by word and deeds and Jesus will draw men to him. People will come to know him.   Words matter whether the person being talked about is present or not. Words impact and influence. I have done my share of damage in this area, but by the grace of God through this insignificant reunion with an acquaintance, I will be careful what I say.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words have lasting consequences that can destroy.

The Right to Become . . .

John 1:12-13 But to all IMG_0225who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

  I am sitting in a hotel room, having evacuated our home for California agriculture fumigation laws, but because our life right now is very stressful, I am grateful for the break in our routine. Daily I am reminded that God is at work often where I cannot see and in spite of my actions or attitudes.  Away from ‘normal’ we have laughed, mostly at ourselves and confirmed new limitations for our age. All in all it has been good emotionally, spiritually and relationally for both of us. Coupled with the completion of a Health Psychology class, this break has given me time to reevaluate my lifestyle and some maladaptive behaviors. Change is hard but it is a necessary process, most often a slow one, for becoming anything different.

In John 1:12-13 the words ‘the right to become’ stuck out today.  This passage speaks both of position and process. When an individual receives and believes in the light, Jesus Christ, they are given the right to become children of God.  A process. .. to become. There is a starting point, receiving and believing leading to salvation, adoption, the entry into the positional kingdom of God as a child. Then the process of becoming, growing into that position and relationship, like a child adopted into a new home, gaining familiarity, growing in a new trusting relationship. I often struggle with feeling like I am enough, yet this scripture encourages me in my inheritance and heritage. I am enough by virtue of being a child of God, born of God, born into His full acceptance. In that relationship I can grow and become all that God wants me to be. He gives grace and mercy in that growing process and like a child learning to walk with his parent close by, He is close enough to catch and protect  when I fall, as I  certainly will. Perfection is not the goal this side of heaven. The process of becoming, the journey of growth with God the Father through Jesus Christ is the goal this side of heaven, filled with grace, truth, love and mercy.  What an awesome, gentle, loving God!

Truly an Ebenezer of Grace

From Lander, Wyoming

My 6th grandchild, 4th grandson is five days old today. What a joy this experience has been in so many ways . The list  is too long to fully elaborate but focusing on the high points……

Brayden Victory Hulme is precious, no more precious than my other grandchildren, but different for me in a couple of ways. First I got witness his first breath; watch the expressions  of excitement and unconditional love form on his parent’s faces, and ‘labor’ with my daughter as she worked to bring him into the world. Second, though all my children have been faithful to honor their heritage in name choices, He is my only name sake. Victory is so appropriate because his parents thought he was only a dream, would never be their reality, thought he was in the mind of God, and created with purpose long before Nicky and Jason met. He is truly an answer to prayer upon prayer for me on my daughters behalf, a praiseworthy victory. Perhaps too, for me is the idea of having a name sake. That comes hopefully from some redeeming qualities that his parents would like to replicate in him and those the victories God has won in my  life.  For Brayden Victory, his name will  hopefully serve as a reminder that even when life gets hard, as we know it will, he too can experience the victory modeled by his heritage of faith;  trusting in a loving faithful God, following the example of Christ even when his hope wains and pressing on to his own overcoming victories.

Certainly, I am honored by this loving gesture but I pray God is honored in the life Brayden Victory Hulme has yet to live and honored in the life his parents live out in front of him.  It is the heritage my mother left to me, the one her mother left her and the one for which I have prayed to leave as well. Thank you Lord for Godly parents, broken but victorious in you. Truly an Ebenezer of Grace

Emmanuel, God with us . . .

I recently enjoyed a trip to Oregon to play with my Grandson’s Noah and Liam.  Typically northbound trips include other agendas, but this trip was specifically to enjoy these two treasured gifts from God. If raising my children was a cupcake from God, then having influence in the lives of my grandchildren is the icing and the cherry on top. I suppose in my mind, it gives me opportunities for a do-over, in the places of my greatest deficit with my children. Though I raised them to have faith in God, my life choices often reflected a god other than the living God. Perhaps that is God’s grand design for grand parenting; the opportunity to slow down and enjoy the very things I rushed over when I was younger.

Sharing my heart for grandchildren, a dear friend gave me a wonderful book of devotional readings for children by Susan Lloyd-Jones & Jago entitled Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing. It is atypical and void of the list of dos and don’ts, rather it focuses on the relationship God desires to enjoy with His children. It is profoundly simple and beautifully illustrated and will speak into the heart of any truth seeker, regardless of age.

I had prayed for opportunity with the boys that was unforced and conversation that was meaningfully and God provided. I chose a devotional that reinforced the truth that is profoundly difficult to accept in our culture and read about the three word God was us to always remember, ‘I love you’. Satan’s crafty temptation of Eve in the garden was in the form of a lie; one he continues to use today, ‘God does NOT love you’. His example was the exclusion of a desired fruit on the tree in the center of their God-given paradise. The truth that became crystal clear to me as I read to my grandsons was I often still believe that lie. ‘God does not love me if he does not . . .’ you can fill in the blank with anything from denial of something most desired to loss of what is most highly treasured.  In our consumer mentality where enough is never enough and satisfaction seems elusive, Satan’s lie reduces God to a genie in a magic bottle rather than the lover and salvation of our very souls and the purpose for our existence.  As I pondered this for the remainder of my time with the boys, God began to move me towards a deeper understanding of Emmanuel, God with us. Satan wants us to believe God is against us because God does not respond as we desire. Rather God’s truth is He is with us, not just in the sense of His presence, but in a synergistic way. The picture that comes to mind is of team rowing or sculling. There is a beauty in the synchronized motion of this sport. Imagine if you will, what it would look like if a rowing team were facing in the same direction and rowing in opposite ones.  I think you can grasp the idea. Emmanuel, God with us, is not only attendance, it is movement, originated by him in which we join and follow, like rowing.  God is with us! God is for us! God loves us!

Are there places you, as a follower of Christ, are living like God is against you, believing Satan’s lie? God wants to rewrite that for you and me.  Three simple words God wants us to believe to counteract the lie of Satan, ‘I love you.’ What we believe informs our behaviors, not what we say we believe.

Treasure these words of mine in your heart and in your soul. Deuteronomy 11:18

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21


Be Blessed

Emmanuel, God with us.

Emmanuel, God with us.

Movements . . .

Yesterday was an interesting day. What began with great enthusiasm and focus, ended with a full range of emotions. Yes I did watch the National championship football game and watch my beloved Oregon Duck, get their tail feathers handed to them, but in the midst of that event, I received a text message from my cousin informing me my Dad’s younger brother had died peacefully in his sleep. Instant perspective shift! From investing time in a child’s game (at my age, 21 something is a child,  no offense), to remembering my precious Uncle. From being frustrated, to being grateful for his contribution to my life. I was overwhelmed by loneliness and empathy for my cousin, an only child like myself. Remembering the day both my parents were gone and my feelings that day. Feeling sad for the last Morrison brother as well, who might feel abandoned and alone as I did.
As I sit and write this, I am grateful that our loss is heaven’s gain. I remember the day Uncle Bob turned his life over to Christ. I remember the conversations at the house on Ellsworth, where he lived in a small apartment in my maternal grandmother’s house. We lived there as well so I had daily interactions with Uncle Bob. I remember him sharing in family events, meals, trips and business. I remember when He married his wife, Marilyn, when Robert was born, just weeks before my oldest daughter. I remember their joy at his arrival. For so much of my life, Uncle Bob was a significant part. Then I moved away.
Movement …
It seems life stands still much of the time, but moments of great emotion, either loss or gain punctuate movement.
Yesterday in Matthew 5:1, I was struck by the transitions, the movements in that first verse.
He saw the crowd –He went up into the mountain – When he sat down – The disciple came to him – He opened his mouth – He taught them.
Not only was Jesus’ movement intentional it was observable, even his stillness, and his wait for his disciples to respond. There is no verbal instruction or signaling mentioned here but I suppose it could have happened. However, I think not. I think he waited for them to realign themselves with him. They had observed his movements because Matthew records each of them. Now it was their turn to move towards him. And when they did, when they re-positioned themselves, when they aligned themselves with him, he taught them. The teaching that follows is and was counter intuitive. It would require them to do the exact opposite of what they would do naturally. So they needed to be taught, in order to understand, how he wanted them to live their lives. What their choice to follow was going to require and how it would transform everything, particularly how they thought, behaved and measured.
Two parts, His and theirs.
What do you find yourself watching? Whose movements take up your thought processes? Who will you follow?
My precious Uncle, Robert Lee Morrison, choose to follow Christ. He followed his movement and responded accordingly. Today He’s celebrating in heaven with the object of his focus, Jesus Christ.
You will be missed. Still deeply loved.