Nice vs. Kind

This has been a post growing and sunning in my seed garden. It’s been gaining nutrients and growing deep roots and growing into a full grown plant in the sun of my heart and in my blog ‘garden’.

So. Nice versus kind. Real quick, let’s take a look at the nitty gritty and dictionary definitions of both of these words. Let’s dissect them for a quick minute!

I will warn you that “nice” is a short and sweet line. However, “kind” delves pretty deep. Look it up! For the sake of this post, however, let’s keep her short ‘n sweet. (Interesting that two words seen by our culture as close synonyms aren’t really close at all.)

Nice: pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory.

Kind: having or showing a friendly, generous, considerate nature. Affectionate, loving. Used in a polite request. (But also stuff like this: ‘a group of people or things having similar characteristics’…and etc!)

AMAZING to me! I have never compared these two side-by-side like this. Why do we see them as equals when they are not? Nice is more of a surface word and easily comes off the tongue (especially when we’re talking to our kids or other folks who are bad-mouthing someone else…”HEY. Be NICE.”)

Nice. It’s a nice word. Isn’t it? It’s a surface word. Rainbows and frolicking ponies come to mind. It’s a word that easily says something, but not quite all we mean. It’s just a word to try to steer a conversation or a mindset, but not quite committed enough to think deeper or to feel deeper. Or to do anything about something.

Kind. It’s a…complex word. Not from just hearing the word roll off your tongue, but when you really think of what you’re saying. “Be kind.” I think that even if one didn’t know the complete definition of this word, it still invokes some kind of thought process. It does for me, anyway.

Here’s my take on these two word-cousins.

Nice keeps you popular and liked without diving in to things you don’t want to stir up or be spotted out for. Nice is a “wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am” word. Nothing deep, nothing noteworthy. It’s nice, but it isn’t sustainable nor does it actually grow you or the person you’re being nice to. It doesn’t actually change anything, it keeps it the same. In life, we have a village of people to uplift and grow us. But, in that, we don’t want to be “that” one person to call out something dangerous or harmful or embarrassing in someone else’s life that we see very plainly. Often times, this is due to people wanting to be liked. When we’re that person to call out something, we stand the chance to be ousted from the person’s life or group and don’t care enough about them or the group to say something–because, we want to be popular or liked. So, we care more about ourselves then? Right? Only a small percentage of people, statistically speaking, don’t care who likes them. Most of us do. That’s why nice is kinda sorta dangerous.

Kind is a whole other ball game. In another league. Kind is loving and caring. You know why? Because when we’re kind, we put our own popularity or position in jeopardy for a hot minute. Think of it! If you’ve got the intestinal fortitude to call out something, who KNOWS how it will be received? You could be the outsider in .2 seconds–where just a .2 seconds ago, you were ‘in’.

Wisdom this THIS though. Never coupling kindness without love. Most of the readers of this blog know this (but not all, and please look this up!) know what 1 Corinthians 13:1 says in the Bible, the Word of God: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”

Meaning, if something is said out of kindness because you care, make sure to marry it with love. Because without love, it will come off as pride that ‘you know better’ and you’re better and you’re the savior because you see something that person or group doesn’t. And it’s a noisy and note-less gong or cymbal. It’s not music, it’s just ugly noise. That’s not how true kindness works! True kindness is always meant and said in love. Because the love you have for the person or group makes you want to help grow them and nurture them.

Even in silly, every day things…

Like today! For me, actually. I was grocery shopping with my 3 little girls. My oldest, who is currently 9, has the eyes of a hawk and doesn’t miss anything. Which, can sometimes come as an annoyance to me (truthfully). She was too irritated with her 6 year old sister who was making the grocery cart she was pushing tip over. Middle sis was hanging on it like a howler monkey and playing with the littlest sister, and the biggest sister–trying to be a big girl and push the cart for me–was at her wit’s end with her. (Mom confession: I was inwardly laughing!) It was very amusing.

We quickly ran to the restroom before tackling our shopping list, and I guess I had tucked my underwear over my shirt. Sooo….yeah. Totally showing off my undergarments to the world of retail. GREAT. We shopped for 30 minutes, and not one soul in that busy store had said: “Hey…your underwear is showing.” Not even my ultra-observant 9 year old who would have normally said something like: *whispered voice* “Mommy…your underwear is hanging out!!!”

Nice was trying to keep me from being embarrassed. Or, them being embarrassed to say something? (You KNOW at least 90% of my fellow shoppers got to see my underwear selection for the day!) Kindness would have called it out and corrected the exposure for my own good. See the difference? A moment of uncomfort would have led to a moment of correction. Even with silly underwear. LOL!

I am so guilty myself of being too concerned with “nice” sometimes. I pray we, as fellow humans, can show others true kindness. True kindness=LOVE+TRUTH.

Broccoli in teeth? Underwear over your shirt? Toxic relationship? Pride? The list goes on…let’s show TRUE kindness!

 

 

When You Follow Your Knows

Caution: Parenting post ahead! If you don’t have a sense of humor or an understanding of bodily functions: Do not read!

I debated on titling this post something like this: “When You Follow Your Nose”. It may have been too literal and obvious. But I think this title suits it well, too!

If you’re a parent, or you’ve been placed in the guardianship or caretaker-ship of a wee one any amount of time–you can {probably} relate. If you’ve never been around kids and you’re reading this: stick with me. You may get a laugh?

I remember when I was a kid and my parents always seemed to KNOW stuff. Like, I felt like I could never get by with even something like being gassy without them knowing it was me. Same holds true today. Haha!

Anyways, now that I am a parent, I totally get this. There are things that some kids just have a certain signature for, you know? Just like adults, they have habits and actions that carry their signatures. When they get a little older, they start realizing they can deny certain actions/habits they carry out. Which, is lying. It’s the early form of it–and something to definitely hone in on as a parent or child caretaker. It’s exhausting sometimes to stay on top of it, but even in the little things: IT WILL BE SO WORTH IT in the long run! Stay the course, my fellow warriors!! {cue the “strong arm” emoji}

So, I will not name names in this post–just because. But it does involve one of our girls. They are each so beautifully made. So unique to their cores and essences. I love the way they see life, and I love being their mom. To have the honor of raising these arrows–wow! God is GOOD! I love seeing the Lord coming real to them in their lives as they grow.

Sometimes, though, there are times when the going gets a little tough in raising arrows. It’s hard work! I love the mental picture of working with the bowstring on a bow. It’s hard to pull it back sometimes and exhausting sometimes to aim properly time after time. We as parents will miss the target sometimes. We just will! We will also hit the target straight in the bullseye, too. Celebrate the victories and learn from the losses!

So the other day we were sitting as a family in church. We were about to have communion. One of my girls was sitting right next to me and snuggling with me as I was explaining {again} what communion was about in little whispers. She’s getting there in her understanding of it all!

The tray passed and her hand went up to get a cup from the silver communion tray. I got a waft of something as her hand grazed up my face to touch my cheek after she excitedly got her own cup from the tray. The waft I got was one of…well, backside. A backside that had been itchy and therefore was scratched. Leaving an aftermath of…backside wafts.

I leaned down to whisper in her ear: “Hey…did you…scratch your crack?”

She looks up at me solemnly (because we have talked about this countless times before when she’s had an itchy crack and the fact there are other ways to scratch the itchand says: “No.”

{Meanwhile, there was a message about communion going on during the service…everyone else listened intently…}

Of course, I immediately knew she was not telling the truth. There was no denying the waft-of-crack. Plus, I can read her like a book. So, I leaned back down and whispered to her: “Hey…I know you’re not telling me the truth. That makes my heart sad–please always tell the truth, because it makes for happy hearts! And happy bottoms. So…did you…?”

She looked back up at me with those beautiful eyes shining with her spirit and whispers: “Well……yes, but…” *sighs* “Yes, mommy, I really scratched that itch good!” {I could tell!}

I almost lost it laughing. Right as we took the cup and bread of communion. I thanked her for telling me the truth, and whispered to her the truths about taking communion and what it represents. I used her lie-turned-truth and it was a great teaching moment.

I would not normally (ever!) choose that particular time and place, but the opportunity presented itself in grand fashion, and she “got” it.

Doesn’t always turn out this way though, and sometimes being a parent can be SO frustrating. When the truth is blatantly obvious about something {or the smell is undeniable} but your little one is still not being 100% truthful. It is sad when kids tell lies. But loving them is correcting it now! As exhausting and frustrating as it is for you now, it’s that much more worth it when they’re grown.

Bon courage, fellow parents/caretakers!! Much love.

 

 

 

 

But First…

Coffee.

Haha! Well yes, there’s coffee. Let’s all take a moment and THANK GOD for coffee.

However, that’s not what this heart ramble is about. {Don’t get me wrong! I have LOTS of heart feels towards this amazing little bean and all it can do!}

Being aware that there are many different folks who read this blog, I will go ahead and tell you that this post is about knowing Christ. If you don’t, I hope you will find Him. {He’s ready when you are.} If you do claim to walk with Jesus and say you’re a Christian, this is about you.

But first, you are a Christian. A Christ-follower. But first, before being a ________ in your job or profession, you’re a Christian. But first, before being a parent, you’re a Christian. But first, before being a family member, you’re a Christian. But first, before being a friend, you’re a Christian. But first, before being a you-name-it {choose your hat}, you’re  a Christian.

To be completely honest, I kinda hesitated with using the term “You’re a Christian” simply because of what our culture has done to this term. Christians can, unfortunately, be seen as some of the most judgmental and unapproachable folks of all time. I am not sure when it happened, but it happened. Some Christians who followed Christ {the very definition of being a Christian} started to become something that Jesus just is not. This is by no means a ‘blanket statement’, and I am most certainly not saying all Christians fall into this. In fact, most of the fellow believers I am honored to know are very much just like Jesus. There are those, however, that say things sometimes about others that make me inwardly cringe. I don’t get it right all the time, either, and have said stuff that I am sure made others cringe. Sometimes, it’s all too easy to merge in the “Lane of Judgement” while judging them for judging! What the SAM! It’s true though, is it not?

A wee little side note about the judgmental piece though: I think a lot of times this isn’t done out of malice. I think it’s done in a similar thought process to this: “THIS IS WRONG! It’s not of God. I don’t know how else to tell this person that this is just YUCK & WRONG and against everything I was taught and know is right from the Word of God, so I’m going to go with my nose up and out and hopefully I won’t be tainted and made into one of them.” I guess you could kind of say it’s like a self-protection mechanism in some cases. It’s absolutely of God and His Word to not be “of”, but “in” the World. Yep! However, sometimes we’re so stuck in our fear-based mindset of “GET AWAY FROM ME, YUCK!” that we fail to reach those who carry it. We’re busy judging and calling out and seeing all the wrong and yuck. When we could be praying and interceding and asking God to change hearts.

Back to But First

I started thinking about this when I was doing something with one of the many irons we have in the fire. One of our many ‘hustles’. Haha! I was moving mountains and getting stuff done. I saw a way that I could shortcut something, but it wouldn’t have been 100% truthful. I mean, I could have sugar-coated it and justified the heck out of it and it would probably would have been fine. But first

“Would the people who see me as a Jesus-follower (aka Christian) still have a good taste in their mouth about Christians if I did _____ this way?” BOOM. That one got me. Those ‘random’ thoughts, I tell you! Especially dealing in a professional environment. Would your co-workers or your supervisor or manager or clients or {you name it} be moved to believe that following Jesus is something real by your actions and behavior? Do you carry heaven in your presence and your actions? So many times, I see this: Folks who are PRAAAIIISING the Lord all day long on a Sunday (seen on social media especially) and then go to work and post stuff about being on their phones at work or doing “anything” but actually working. While on the clock. But….FIRST. If you truly follow Jesus, you cannot separate your relationship with God with ANYTHING else you do. It all goes hand-in-hand. Your relationship with Him will help you do the other stuff well: with integrity and excellence. (If you’re OK with being a crappy employee or stealing time, I’d seriously question why. Why is that ok?)

There’s many other examples we could use here and examine. Family feuds, maybe? {Like real ones}. YEESH! All of it takes second row to what you are and Who’s you are. If you truly do follow Christ, there are many things that will not rest in your spirit, because they are contrary to His will and His way and His Word. But…FIRST.

With every action you take in the world, it’s always in one of two directions. It’s the 1) Yes, I am a Christ-follower and have the integrity of heaven and true righteousness and sometimes hard decisions that comes with that. Or the 2) I’ll do what serves me best and what’s easiest to deal with and has the fastest results.

If only I could {truthfully} say I never lose sight of my But…FIRST and I always go with option 1. Nope. However, the Holy Spirit (which is almost like God’s earthly ‘muscle’) will wrangle me down and that conviction comes like a hurricane. I pray it always does. The goal, as Jesus-followers, is to walk with Him so much and know His voice so well that our “default” will be of God’s kingdom. Our modus operandi {M.O.’s} would be to look more like Jesus than ourselves.

God has been stirring all sorts of stuff up in my heart, and am looking forward to sharing them in the coming weeks. Some funny, some serious, some in-between. Thank you for reading and ‘listening’ to my heart rambles!

 

 

Take 5

Get under the bed!! GIRLS–just get under the bed!” is what I remember my mom and another missionary mom yell to us kids as they came into the bedroom we were waiting in as we heard the mob just outside our ‘safe’ walls. There were some angry townspeople surrounding our house that evening, and our parents were trying to figure out how to protect us from rocks that could at any moment be thrown through the windows. Our dads were out in the living room trying to figure out how in the world to protect this man from an ‘enemy’ tribe in the midst of an angry town of people. Not only that, but they were also trying to figure out how to protect their families as well. I cannot imagine what my mom and dad and our co-worker family went through. Cannot!! {And don’t want to!}

For about 6 months, we lived in a pretty secluded little ‘town’ in Ivory Coast, West Africa. There was a situation, and we took in a ‘rival’ tribesman for his protection. Lots of ‘town/tribe’ politics I won’t delve in at the moment, but needless to say: This guy was from an enemy tribe and he was on dangerous grounds. {And this was the early 1990’s!}

But, I knew my parents would always do what was right. This guy loved the Lord, but was from a tribe not from the folks of this little ‘town’, and they wanted him dead. Literally. And…us, as the harboring missionaries–if it came to that. They didn’t care who/what/where/when. They wanted this dude dead. I was about our oldest daughter’s age now (she is almost 10 years old), and I remember it like it was a couple of minutes ago. (Makes me really stop and ponder: Our kids are remembering our ‘now‘. Are we making it something memorable? Substantial? God-Hearty? Faith-filled? Transparent? Here’s a good one: Duplicatable?)

{If you want more details, or the full story, you MUST get the books called In This Place and In Every Place by Kim L. Abernethy. Yep–none other than my mom! She kept GREAT journals and details of the ‘play-by-plays’, and you simply must read them. There’s also an e-book option from Amazon. Look ’em up!}

So finally, my dad and the other dad of our co-worker family decided they’d take this man out of town in our car. It was a very old LADA. French made, I believe? Russian, maybe? Haha! Can’t remember. But, I do remember it was our only mode of transportation at that moment. They went to our car, turned the key in the ignition ready to speed off and get this man to safety! {Que the action movie music!} Dun-dah-dun dun…

Nothing.

Turns the key again…nothing.

{Engine sluggishly attempting to try to sound like it’s trying to try to turn over…}

Defeat. Unbelief. Doubt. Fear.

I remember my dad and our co-worker’s dad coming in with this man they were trying to protect. I don’t think I’ve ever seen defeat like that on my dad’s face or countenance since. He was droopy-shouldered and tight-browed. I can only imagine his thoughts at that moment: “GOD. GOD!!!!!!! Why?!! We had a chance, a small chance to escape and get this man to safety. WHY, GOD? WHY???!!! Why now?

Not long after that, I honestly don’t remember how much time lapsed, but we had some faithful fellow Christian townsfolks who worked with us there BUST in our house.

TEACHA!! TEACHA TEACHA! I SAY…you mah not go on the road!!!!! I say, they have a tree down across the way and they will kill this man and everyone else in the car. I say, you mah NOT GO tonight on the road.

WELL.THEN. And then there was that. To think that if they did go like they planned to get this man out of town, they would have come to this ambush. They would have all died. My dad would have been killed that night on that road in that car…that wouldn’t start.

This vivid memory has stuck with me like Gorilla Glue. All through my life: I remember this. When something deters or delays, I don’t doubt (or if I do start to get that whiny/complaining spirit, I get whiplashed back to the truth). It may be God saving me and my family, and I always want to be found faithful and THANKFUL in all of it. Some may say the enemy stops God’s work and delays good things. While partially true in the fact that the enemy does like to distract and to try to dismantle our efforts, it’s impossible for him to do so. What God wills and says will be done–WILL BE DONE. No matter what in all of the hellish forces there are. God’s will and His plans will always be carried out, and sometimes…it’s in a car that won’t start.

The one true God that I love and serve and know is a God of immaculate details. He’s so perfect. Every last detail from the beginning of this planet to it’s end was and is planned out to the most minute detail. The most amazing thing happens when love meets plans. The power of God’s love for His creation {us} and the power of His flawless planning meets when we go about our lives. AND, may I add, when we walk with Him humbly and in obedience to Him, our lives are able to line up as it was intended with timing and details.

Let Him have it.

A Cardigan Vs. An Afghan

“Good morning! I LOVE your afghan!” I have said at least 6 or 7 times to different folks before regarding their CLOTHING. {I was admiring their cardigan, but for some reason my silly brain always says afghan. LoL!} Mostly, this has happened in our church on a Sunday morning as folks come through the front doors. I am part of the greeting team, and love speaking to people as they come in the door to our church. There are some stylish ladies who walk through those doors, and I mean to tell them so! However…using the correct TERM for the clothing accessory is always a plus, I tell you. Lord, have mercy.

So, by definition an afghan is: a woolen blanket or shawl, usually knitted or crocheted. It is sometimes also called a “throw” of indeterminate size. Afghans are often used as bedspreads, or as a decoration on the back of couches or chairs.

And, by definition a cardigan is: a knitted sweater fastening down the front, typically with long sleeves.

…Just in case anyone was wondering about the difference…

Those are completely different things! Haha! I am probably the only person who has ever gotten them confused, but you know what? The compliment was sincere. I truly did love it if I said I did. (If I could have put it on and rocked it right then–I totally would have.) Who cares if I am by my lonesome on this. I am not competing for God’s spot of perfection in my life–just walking in the “footprints” He already made. I’ll miss the “perfect fit of feet” sometimes. But there will be times I actually fit it just right. Sometimes yes and sometimes no. Same for you.

Be sincere when complimenting someone on something. Be real with that! It’s powerful.

Goodness, ya’ll. A compliment can put planets into orbit in someone’s life. I only know because it’s happened to me. Proverbs 25:11 says this: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” The contrast between silver and gold is pretty substantial! And a word that is sincerely spoken will carry the message and purpose it was intended for. Trying to fill in the gaps with our own words of “filler” {or flattery} will only dull the spaces that was intended for good {or GOLD}. Choose words wisely!

But, also, laugh at yourself–will you? I can’t believe I have said afghan vs. cardigan a whopping 6 or 7 times. Thank God {most} of the people have laughed it off with me, but there have been a couple of folks who were like: “Heh.heh.Yeeaaah. Okie. Not quite what I call it, but…ok, yeah.”

And I totally do not blame them. What in the world? They may have {for a split second} thought: “OMGgoodness. Did I seriously wear my couch’s blanket today?!” Haha!! I love that I have laughed with people I have never met before in my life, though. “Yeah, that’s funny, eh? AFGHAN. Ha-ha-ha! Nope. No ‘afghans’ here! THANK YOU, though!”

I think now that I have written a blog post about this: CARDIGAN has bought permanent real estate in my brain. If you ever hear me say “afghan”, please question it!! *wink*

But also, taste your words before they proceed from your lips. Taste ’em before you say ’em. {Compliment or not…}.

THE Two Best Days

Mark Twain said it best: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

Holy smokes! Let that soak in for a hot minute. I know that there are other incredible days in one’s life, and maybe some beg to differ on Twain’s quote. If you’re a believer in Christ, you may even say that the day you became a Christian was your best day ever. And maybe, it was. But maybe, it wasn’t. I kinda want to go beyond those walls right now–like, I want to go beyond the expected and comfortable.

Before you were created, whether you believe this or not, God had a master design for your life. It’s like your soul was bottled up on heavenly shelves and before you came to earth in your mother’s womb, you were already you. Your soul was already created, and ready for action. You were woven into your human/Earthly body when God saw fit. You could have been born at any point in history or the future. But you weren’t! You were born and lived on this tick mark on the timeline. Why though?

I always get amused thinking of things like: God, did you not think I could go without modern creature comforts? B.C. Old Testament times would’ve looked good on me! {Or…maybe not. Haha! Maybe that’s a HUGE NO?} Only in the last hundred years from where we are now, 2018, have times really ramped up to what we know as “modern”. But all that aside: Why you & I, why now?

Well, that’s a great question. We all know that the birth of a new baby is a beautiful thing: it’s a new little slimy human catching their first breath of this earthly atmosphere. Even for preemies in the NICU. What’s fed through those tubes/vents is still earthly air. Even for life that wasn’t desired and given straight into the arms of an adoptive family. Or, for the life that would be taken from something like SIDS {ALL too soon}. Or the new life that would be neglected and ‘forgotten’. All life that takes it’s first breath is ordained by it’s Giver–and it’s beautiful. And it’s for a reason. Make no mistake. (In it’s ugliest and prettiest forms.}

So, we covered: “the day you & I were born” from the quote. But, what about the why we were born? WHY? Well, what if it’s a bunch of different WHY’s and made into a beautiful mosaic of a life? Each act of kindness or each loving word. All that’s going to your “WHY-mosaic”. In other words: Because you existed, this piece of the mosaic is complete and in place.

The ultimate reason you and I exist is for relationship though. Beyond any other function or reason. Whether you believe in God or not–He wants relationship with you.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Twain may have been talking about our life’s accomplishments here, or goals or even talents. Like, the Babe Ruth’s of the game of baseball. It would seem he was born for baseball. (But seriously, he was INCREDIBLE. And still holds a WR in 40+ home runs!) One would think: “Eh! For sure his life’s purpose was baseball.”

Well, let me act and sound like a ‘pastor’ real quick and ask you to turn to your Bibles to Ecclesiastes. Pretty much the entire book. (I’d recommend reading it all. Right now.) It’ll bring things to perspective real quick if you have the eyes to see and ears to hear! Kicks me in the pants every.time.

Let me paraphrase especially Ecclesiastes Chapter 1:7– “ALL is vanity. All the streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again.” Daaaaaang.

Do not make the mistake of misinterpreting what I am saying here. What you are doing does matter: You are making that beautiful mosaic picture of your life and your purpose here on earth.

HOWEVER! What is all of it without true relationship with God? Why are you doing what you’re doing? Some “feel” better when they’re nice and in the “handing an apple to a cardboard-carrying homeless person” stage or they are helping someone with a bill or buying them clothes. No doubt this is important and meaningful stuff. And doing this with God’s guidance of the who’s/where’s/when’s is imperative. It means you are true relationship and you are listening to that “still small voice”. {Why would such a big God make His voice ‘still small’?} That is a whole ‘nother, ‘nother. He just does. Wheeewww.

If there ever was a boat, a learning boat, I am on it. A boarding pass-carrying member. The boat of relation-over-function. The boat of heart-over-action.

I just want to learn how to put all my life’s actions/ministries UNDER my relationship. Why we were born: Relationship.

Going back to our roots in the Garden of Eden, we see this. Humanity was created just below the angels. Humanity was created for relationship. Relationship that we would choose the one TRUE God over everything else. 

And there’s our answer: WHY were you born? Well, according to the Word in Ecclesiastes, all else is vanity besides one thing: Relationship with our Creator.