unconditional. part 2

have you ever had a conversation with someone that quickly escalates and you find yourself responding in their same elevated tone?

i recently had a phone conversation like this… and after hanging up i was like what happened there. i didn’t like it.

but in it i realized that something had happened to me over the past few years and i had let a muscle i once valued and cultivated grow weak.

i used to work at a maternity home.  now with this let me give you some context.  have you ever tried to reason with a 15 year old girl?  (i can say this because i once was one).

okay so if you have then just imagine that she is also pregnant and all those irrational hormones are also flowing through her small body.  then on top of that add that she is facing some life-altering decisions…

 will i parent this child for the rest of my life?  

or will i place this child for adoption and face the pain of letting go of all i know and choosing what i believe to be the best option for my baby?

now that you have the picture i think you will understand that interactions with these girls where NOT always calm, rational, and in a controlled tone.  and while i lived and worked in that house God taught me some amazing lessons and tools.

He taught me that we don’t honor people because of what they’ve done or not done.  we honor because that person is made in HIS image.  they are valuable.  they are worth it. even before they know it, and we as a staff got the incredible privilege of demonstrating that day in and day out, and sometimes night in and night out too!

at first i was lousy at it, but over the years i learned… girl BLOWS up in the kitchen… okay pull her into the office and simply ask in a sweet tone, “hey sweetie, what’s going on”.  that was usually followed by tears and her explaining how scared she was about the decisions before her, which was a precious and vulnerable moment to love her WITHOUT conditions.

i had this pretty well down, there was one time that i told a girl to “shut up” on our way to church… but that’s a story for another time. tag for that one.. #hownottodoit

since those days my ministry has changed and for the most part my interactions with people are incredible and honoring and all that feel good stuff.

but this phone call reminded me of something so important.  i honor people because they are valuable. 

period.

it’s not because of how they treat me or how amazing they think i am.  

it’s not their sweet tone.  

it’s not their behavior.  

it’s simply because they are made in His image .

here’s the gorgeous part of it… this makes me powerful and not a victim to other peoples behavior!  initially with my girls at the maternity home, i was so afraid of them.  i was afraid of blow ups and intimidation.

but honor has a way of diffusing that, and that is beautiful and glorious.

let’s all do a little experiment and label it “unconditional”.  

we get to be powerful.  we get to be in control of our emotions even when others might not be.

 

 

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unconditional.

my birthday was wednesday.  and thus commences the last year of my 20s.

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every year i like to take a little time with a cup of coffee and reflect on the previous year and then start to dream about the next…

in the midst of this i am once again processing the love and grace of God.  i recently wrote about grace and today i want to write a little about love.

i have been drawn to ephesians lately, and i want to cling to the promise that He can “do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us” for this next year.

i administrated a conference this week and with that i got to hear some amazing men of God share from their hearts.  one of them said, “there are none of the promises He has made to me that are dependent on my behavior”.

wow, that pricks the strategic achiever in me and in the same instant forces me to take a deep breath and let go.

today i was struck by paul’s prayers for those in ephesus to “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”.

selah. 

that’s beautiful. filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  

it’s not about my pushing. it’s not about my striving. it’s not about my efforts.

it’s about my yielding.

it’s about me clearing the space in my busy schedule.  it’s about me making time and space to be filled.  

that’s what i want this year… to know his love more.

to be filled to the measure.

to trust that He has the power to do what He has promised, even more than i’ve asked or could imagine!

to rest in His love and power.

to allow His love and power to simply flow through me and onto those who encounter me.

to embrace the basics and leave the complex.

to accept His love without conditions and to allow Him to teach me how to love in the same way.

so happy birthday to me and here’s to my best year YET!

our little kitchen makeover

We’ve had a busy few weeks here at the Maher house.

I added up that we traveled 20 days in the month of March.   That did include a week in Hawaii, so don’t worry it’s not all work and no play. 🙂

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And for 12 days, we had Chuck’s mom and sister come out for a California visit.  While they were here we decided to tackle a long anticipated project, our kitchen cabinets.  His mom has done it a few times, and it felt a bit more manageable with her help.  It was a much bigger project than I anticipated, and thank God for that, or I may have backed out.  

I thought you might enjoy a photo journal of the project…

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We are pretty tired now, and head out on Friday night for 10 days in the Great Lakes Area.  Prayers are appreciated for this time that it will be filled with grace and His presence!  We are making some adjustments and learning to find a rhythm with our travel and home time.

 

grace.

IMG_3799“But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8

I tripped on this verse a bit this morning.  You know how you can be reading along and then it’s like you hit a snag in the carpet and you can’t seem to get to the next verse.

“While we were still sinners…”  Wow. That’s convicting and humbling in the same instant.  Somehow years of religion and familiarity can lead me so far from the basics of faith.

I don’t know about you, but how often I need the reminder that salvation is a GIFT.  I haven’t earned a sliver of it through my good behavior.  Salvation is also free to the crack addict on the corner.  Jesus doesn’t discriminate.  He freely gives, dispute our behavior.

The second part to this is that reminder that I am to freely give, just as it’s been freely given to me.  And the conviction is not in the giving of material possessions for me, not the giving is done in deeper places that you may not be able to see.

I have to ask myself some hard questions.

First, am I freely giving my husband forgiveness when he asks?  Candidly, too often it takes me way longer than it should.

Am I freely giving the man on the corner holding that sign something as simple as eye contact and a smile?

Am I freely giving people in my life the benefit of the doubt?

Religion is about meeting requirements.

How often to I function in this as I interact with others?

Grace is about giving based on who we are not on what others have done.

Jesus was able to give the gift of salvation and abundant life because of what He possesses. It wasn’t and isn’t about our performance.  As hard as it is to wrap our minds around, it wasn’t about what we deserve.  (THANK GOD!)

Recently, we watched Les Misérables and I was struck by a scene.  After being released from years in prison for stealing bread for his young niece, a kind priest allows ex-con Jean Valjean to sleep in the convent.  In the middle of the night, Jean steals all their silver and makes a run for it.  The police catch him and return him to the priest asking what he would like done to the man.  The priest gathers the silver candlesticks from the table, and says you forget the best part.  He tells the police that he GAVE him all the silver.  From this moment on, Jean is a different man.  This is grace. This is what’s been done for us.

Today I pray that we would be vastly aware of what we have to give, and extravagantly generous to those around us.  For we never know when a simple act of grace will change the course of someones life.