Lessons I’ve Learned

        There was time in my life when I allowed another’s lies to define who I was.

       That was a lifetime ago; and that time has ended.

       I don’t know why God put this on my heart today. Maybe with all the violence and ugliness going on in the world, we all need to be reminded to love one another. Maybe someone needed the message I had to impart.

       We learn, as Christians, to see Jesus when we look at people; but how many of us actually have that thought running rampant through our mind every second of our busy days?

       My former mother-in-law never missed an opportunity to voice to my mother that she told her son he should not have married me – and this was while we were married. Do you think she was seeing Jesus when she spoke those words to another mother? Truth be told, it would actually hurt me to voice that sentiment to another mother. I identify with other’s feelings on too deep a level to ever consider voicing such a hurtful comment. 

        I remember a time when my former husband and one of his co-workers went fishing for the day. At the end of the day, after cleaning the catch, we shared a meal with the other family. As women will do, we talked as we stood in the kitchen preparing the meal. I was surprised – or perhaps not – when she very candidly told me that her husband had told her of a conversation he had with my then husband. In that conversation, he said that I was a bitch. There is no other way to phrase that particular word – my apologies. She went on to tell me that her husband said that he was told I did nothing but scream and yell and fuss all of the time.

       Anyone who knows me will tell you I do not handle matters in that particular way. I am a person who holds their anger inside. I rarely ever show my anger or hurt. I detach and become very quite. That doesn’t mean I am not human. I am, and I have been known to slam a few doors – loud and hard – did I mention loud and hard – but screaming is not something I do. I do not like confrontation, and I avoid it whenever possible.

Ephesians 4:29 – “Don’t let any foul words come out of your mouth. Only say what is helpful when it is needed for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say.” 

        I asked this woman, if after getting the chance to know me, if she still thought that I was this kind of person. I did not let on, but I was extremely hurt when she replied that she did in fact still believe all that she had heard, because she did not feel that my former husband would lie – which said to me that she thought I was lying when I denied the allegations. What I wanted to do at that time was grab my daughters and leave. I did not want to stay in a place that was detrimental to my emotional well-being. I could feel myself shutting down, and pasting on that fake smile.

       What I did was hide my hurt and anger inside of me, and stayed for dinner. I never told anyone how devastating that conversation was to me. Little did I know that it would become one of many such conversations in the years to come.

Colossians 4:6 – “Your speech should always be gracious and sprinkled with insight so that you may know how to respond to every person.”

        Ever since that night, when the thoughts come back to haunt me, I get angry with myself. I am angry because I did not stand up for myself. I am angry because I did not confront my ex-husband. I am angry because another person believed his lies. I am angry because I let what this person believed bother me. I am angry because I wish the memory would vanish. And, that, is not very Christian like either.

       And, then I think, maybe the memory comes back to remind me that I am worthy. I am worthy of Jesus’ love. I do not need people like this woman in my life because they make me feel like less than. And, to feel less than, is an insult to God. It is also a lesson that we need to know and remember. Lies hurt; lies maim; lies destroy; and lies kill. Lies destroy a person’s spirit; what lies within.

Proverbs 14:1 – “A wise woman builds her house, while a foolish woman tears hers down with her own hands.”

       For a while, the WWJD – What would Jesus do – bracelets were extremely popular. It seemed as though everyone was wearing some form or another of the symbol. I wonder if our actions would be significantly different if we had WWJD branded on our foreheads. While it sounds like a farfetched idea, I urge you to think about it for a moment. When we opened our mouths to lie, or to gossip, would we continue or would we close our mouths?

A "What Would Jesus Do?" (WWJD) bracelet

        This story brings me to a lesson we need to remember. Everyone is of God. And, to insult or lie or belittle another person, is to belittle God, our creator. For that reason, when we see or speak to others, we need to remember one of the greatest lessons of all – look for Jesus in each face we see and not be led astray.

       As always, I encourage you to share your opinions and experience, and/or questions. Remember to show courtesy to others in your comments.






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When no means NO!

Question Mark
Question Mark (Photo credit: auntiepauline)
When someone tells you no, does it register?
 Do you stop what you are doing or saying?
Or, do you continue?
No, means no!
        No, I do not want that food. No, do not sit on the dog. No, I do not want to answeryour question. No. No. NO!
       I recently wrote a piece on manners for my blog; and one of the commenters asked me to write on accepting no. Her example was one I was actually all too familiar with so I thought, why not.
“These days when people say no thank you to an invitation, for some reason they feel compelled to explain why. Invariably, the comment is something like, “I can’t make it because I am doing something WAY MORE FUN than attending your event!” A simple “no thank you” should be sufficient. I use a “no thank you”, no matter if I have another pressing engagement or I don’t feel like going. Also, when I use my simple “no thank you”, I have been asked to explain why I can’t go. “What else could you be doing that could possibly be more important and why don’t you rearrange it?” the host demands. It makes for an awkward situation.”
       I am with her on this. If I invite you somewhere, you do not need to explain – unless you happen to be my best friend and we always explain– why you cannot attend. A simple “I would love to, but I’m busy that night” more than suffices. When I am invited and I do not wish to attend or for some reason, cannot, I simply say thank you for the invitation, but I will be unable to attend. I also wish them a great event.
       I do not feel I need to explain past that response and I absolutely abhor being interrogated. It really is not anyone’s business. Anyone who has this habit might want to check themselves. The next time you ask someone “why”, you may just get an honest answer you do not want to hear. I know that in my life, it has gotten to the point where I get really honest in my answers when pushed. Yes, it makes for an awfully awkward moment, but then again, put the awkward back on them with an honest answer – not ugly – honest. After all, they pushed the subject.
       At one time, I had a friend who was obsessive about knowing everyone’s business. She had a bad habit of asking inappropriate questions and would not take no for an answer. She would push and push no matter how many times you told her that you did not want to talk about something or that it was none of her business.
       I am an extremely private person  -you are probably thinking –private? – and so she writes a blog?- and I do not like other people in my business. If I constantly change the subject when you ask a question, you can be absolutely sure that is “Me telling You” – finger pointing here –  that I do not wish to talk about whatever it is that you are trying to pry out of me. Now, on the other hand, if you cannot shut me up, it is a clear indication that I am willing to share, so at that point, you had better ask your questions, because those times are rare.
       I have recently adopted the policy, if someone keeps pressing me for more information, to the point of being rude, and making me uncomfortable, then that person needs to hear no less than the truth. If being nice and giving an evasive answer does not work, then transfer the awkward position that they have put you in, to them. Tell them the truth. You just do not want to attend. You have other things you would rather do.
       I know this sounds rude, but to have to resort to this type of answer, means the person has pushed you beyond appropriate boundaries. It should not matter why you do not want to attend a function just that you do not; and you have been respectful in stating your feelings.
Colossians 3:12-14 tells us, “… as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (NIV 1984)
       We all need to be mindful of others in our lives, and to remember when having to give answers to difficult people, be as kind, and gentle, as you are able to be. Some people still may not “get it” but our job as aChristian is to keep the exchange as kind as possible and extendforgiveness for their ignorance.
Thanks for joining me today!
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      As always, I encourage you to share your opinions and experiences, and/or questions. Remember to show courtesy to others in your comments.

From the Heart – Sundays as a day of enlightenment

   Sundays – they always seem to be a day of enlightenment, a day of renewal.

         I returned home a short time ago from our “normal” Sunday morning activities. Each Sunday morning, Hubby and I, along with many others from church, visit the local nursing home to say theRosary with the residents.

         Not normally one for making friends easily, I have become friends with an older couple who come to the nursing home for the Rosary on Sunday mornings. I have also grown quite fond of a friend of theirs who is a resident of the nursing home; and when one of us is not there, we are truly missed.

         There is an older gentleman referred to by everyone as “Coach”. I have no idea if he was a coach, but he loves sports. He has also become somewhat of a preacher and on most Sundays, shares a messagewith those gathered. This morning was no exception. He shared the story about the lion who wanted to eat a mouse and how the mouse convinced him he would not be full if he ate him. Then, later in the story, the lion was caught in a net and the little mouse chewed a hole in the net and saved him. Then the lion and the mouse became forever friends. I may be the only one who did not get the moral of that story, but I did get the moral of the second part of his message.

         The second part of his message this morning was about deciding to be happy. Each morning when you open your eyes, you can decide to be happy or you can decide to be miserable. This was the second time this morning (and it is not lunch yet) that I received this message. I was reading the thought for the day from Joel Osteen and his message centered on how we make the decision to be happy or not to be happy. We can dwell on past unhappinesses or we can start the day brand new with a smile.

         This message hit home with me because on so many days, I wake up thinking that today is going to be the day I do not allow past hurts to sneak in; and on so many days, that is exactly the opposite of what happens. Today, after hearing that message twice in such a short span of time, I am determined more than ever to adhere to it; to make it my mantra, and stick with it.

          We pray for God to grant our wishes, but when he does, because they are not exactly what we prayed for, sometimes we do not see the granted wishes. I prayed that my daughters would want to hear my side of the story, my reasons for divorcing their father, and to understand that I did not abandon them. They have never asked or been interested in my story; so I have harbored hurt and anger in my heart about the divorce.

         God has chosen to answer my prayers in a different manner, in a positive way. So, today, I am shedding the cloak of gloom, the cloak of hurt and anger, and I am choosing to move forward with a smile.

         It is no wonder that Sundays are considered a day of rest. God works hard to open our eyes to his blessings. He definitely needs the rest.

         Happy Sunday to everyone. I hope that God answers one of your prayer requests today.
           **Be sure to check out my primary blog at http://mylife-in-stories.blogspot.com  Thanks!