with Lynne and Leslie
Tag Archives: grace

Grace. Amazing.

by SweetMidlife

Happy New Year! It’s Lynne. There’s something that I wanted to share that’s been rattling around my head.

 

My son has a tablet that he plays games on, and watches videos on, and has fun and learns things, and all of that. And there are times when he gets caught up in it, and doesn’t respond to us calling him because he’s mesmerized by the screen. And this drives us a bit crazy, and we shake our heads at”these kids today”, and screen time, and the like. So one day, my son was walking down the steps with his tablet in hand, eyes focused on the video he was watching, and I said, “Look up at where you are going and put the tablet down”, and as I said that, I had a scene in my head of me walking down those very steps with my eyes on my phone. And I got convicted that I do the same thing. My son has even called me out on it, because we have that drilled into him now, and also because it’s a little kindergarten righteous indignation. Well played, Young Sir.

So I knew that I wanted to write about this, and at first it was going to be about being present in what we do, and being aware of our surroundings and the people in our lives, and that’s a good topic that I have written on before and will again, because it’s an issue for me. But what keeps coming to me in this is how to have grace when you see people doing things that you don’t like that you realize you do yourself. And when that happens, you have several choices.

You can say, “Wow! This is something we both do that’s bad that we need to stop it right now. No excuses”. This is valid. It’s good to recognize when you are doing things that are detrimental, and might cause you to fall down the steps and breaks stuff, and to just cut it out.

Or you can say, “Wow! We both do this thing, and now I understand how easy it is to do it, so now I think it’s not a big deal anymore”. This makes sense in some scenarios, because maybe the thing that you and the other person are doing isn’t going to hurt anyone, even in small doses.

But sometimes the thing is a big deal, or something that could be. And it needs to stop. But stopping it isn’t easy. And you are stuck between cold turkey/no mercy/no excuses and just letting the whole thing go and going back to where you are. But there is something in between, and that is what I think is grace.

But grace looks differently to some people. Some people think that the best way to extend grace is to just let people be, and not say anything, even when they know that the person is in the wrong, or is hurting themselves and other people. They equate grace with speaking nothing negative ever. And I can imagine if their act is something that YOU do yourself, it’s even harder to admit that the thing is wrong.

But here is the in-between. Recognizing that the behavior needs to change. For you both. Even if it requires you to admit fault, or adjust things, or to briefly look bad, or look like a hypocrite. Or say something negative about someone else because you don’t want to hurt their feelings.

I think grace looks like this: “We have made choices that can hurt us. We can and should do better. I know it might be hard. But I love you, and I love me, and we know where we need to be. We can get there.” Kind change.

So I have been telling my kid to look where he’s going when he has is tablet in his hand, and I have been putting my phone down when I do the same. We both have places to go. And we’ll get there quicker without the falling. Graciously.


Grief and Grace and Gravy

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here, and this rambles a bit.

Palm Beach

It’s been said somewhere that there are lessons in everything if you look for them, and I have been finding that this is true as we grieve Scott, Leslie’s husband and my brother in law. I would rather have learned this lesson some other way and not have had us, especially Leslie,  go through this loss, but I have found something out.

There are people who ask inappropriate questions, and loved ones don’t always see eye to eye about everything. And we are all hurting. And that is what I feel God has whispered in my ear.

That everybody hurts. Everybody grieves. They just do it differently.

Some of them do it by needing to be around people. Some do it by wanting to be alone and not talk to anyone. Some want to help by doing things, like bringing you food, or making you gravy, like our friend Melanie did for Leslie (and it was really good gravy, y’all), or organizing your refrigerator, or taking you to get your nails done. Other people want to watch sad things on television, and others need to watch “Last Comic Standing” on repeat. Some do all of these all in the same day. And that’s the thing. There is no right way to do it. There are probably many wrong ways to do it if they involve making other people feel crappy so that you can feel better. Because that doesn’t really help, and involves more hurt, and as my toddler says, “Dat’s not good. Dat’s not good AT ALL.”

Which leads me back to what God is showing me. He is showing me that even if we are all grieving the same person, we don’t arrive at it from the same place. Maybe you’ve had a lot of loss lately, or maybe you’ve never lost someone close before. Your job might suck, and you had a fight with your boyfriend last night. But here we are all together with a loss, and we might react differently to it.

And there should be grace for that. People have shown us so much grace and kindness and love this past week that I can’t even sum it up. And it’s made me see through to people’s hearts and to stop making their stuff about me, and to really see THEM. It’s made me want to focus on the good things and wonderful people in my life. It’s made me want more than ever to be present in my life and to put my phone down and turn the TV off. I am still not for people who are deliberately out to hurt people. But we all hurt. It’s part of life. And if that hurt makes the good things shine brighter because they contrast so loudly with the pain, then I am going to see the good. It doesn’t make the bad go away. But it makes you remember why you risked opening your heart in a way that lets pain in. Because the happy is worth it.

I told you that it rambled. But that’s where I am. Sadness will come. It sucks. I hate it. But the happy is worth it.


Making Room For the Good Stuff

by SweetMidlife

Hi!
Lynne here!!

So, my husband, son and I started going to this really, really cool church in the town where we live, and we are getting involved. One cool thing they are doing is offering a group for people who want to lead Bible studies, and it has been really eye-opening. I feel led to do a Bible study for parents who are at home during the day, and I am getting a lot from this leadership group. A few weeks ago, our assistant pastor taught a session on being like Christ, and that our lives as leaders should really reflect that we know Him. Awesome, right? So I went home and prayed, earnestly, that God would work in my life to make me more like Him, and that I would follow Him wherever He took me.

So.

A few days later, I started feeling some not good feelings. Like, I looked at someone’s Facebook posts and got really annoyed at them because I was jealous of their vacation. “Eww”, I thought. “I don’t like feeling like that. They are entitled to what they have.” Okay.

Then maybe the same day, I saw some young ladies walking down the street in short-shorts, and in my head, I almost went full- Church Lady on them. And it felt like I was being stabbed when I realized how judgmental I was being. I was wrong. Eww.

A couple of days later, my husband and I didn’t communicate clearly about who was going to actually be watching our son one weekend day while I had to go out. I said bye to my son, and my husband said, “Wait, he’s staying here?” And because my husband was actually remodeling and tearing down cabinets in the basement, the boy couldn’t stay here, so I took him with me. And I felt really annoyed, and I wanted the husband to apologize more than he did (and really, he did enough), and then I knew that I had to let it go.

And then it hit me. God was showing me that if I am going to be like Jesus (or as much like Him as we can, since we are still, well, people), I need to recognize all of the things in me that are very un-Jesus-y. And I then need to stop doing those things. But if I never face how petty and jealous and judgmental I can be, how can I deal with those things and make room for the forgiveness, and grace and humility? Huh? I can’t. Because Jesus knows our crap. All of it. He wants us to see it, but then not beat ourselves up over it and stay there, because who does that help? No, he wants us to see it, admit it, fix it, and roll the heck on doing the right thing. So, if you have been seeking to be a better people to people, and you find yourself realizing that you have work to do, be happy for the lesson. And don’t waste it. There is hope for us all.


Grace On Your Journey

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here! Today we have a guest post from my dear friend Robin, who I have known since Freshman year of college. Leslie and I have both written before about our own journeys with food and such, and today, Robin writes about her own relationship with food and spending, and how her faith is getting her through. Enjoy. 

Where Sin is Found, Grace Abounds

by Robin Peace

“Life is a journey.  When we stop, things don’t go right.” Pope Francis

I can’t remember when I stopped living and just existing, or rather sub-existing.  Each meal was a battle between “good” food, “bad” food.  Every store was my enemy.  I was either purchasing things I could not afford or food I shouldn’t be eating.   In December, I finally hit rock bottom financially.  I was confronted with my poor spending habits by the realization I could not renew my lease on my apartment and still stay afloat on my bills.  In shame, I am moving back home after three years of living like a “real” adult.  The Bible said it best, “For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains” (1 Timothy 6:10).  My sin wasn’t the love of money, per se, but the love of possessions and food.

So I went on the offensive.  I found some friends willing to be my money accountability support group.   I managed to control the possession spending after realizing every dollar I spent, I would have to confess it.  But the buying of “bad” food continued, even though I was on an expensive diet program.  The Bible also says, “Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial” (1 Corinthians 10:23).  I had to come to terms with the fact that I have been living like I had an endless supply of permissible and not thinking of what was actually beneficial.  I had to come to terms with my two addictions and the fact that they were inseparable form one another.  If I fought one, I had to battle the other as well.

Someone then advised me to think of my addiction in this way – whenever you have the desire to spend money on food or things, think, “Jesus loves me so much, that I want to be just like him.”  Looking at things that way forced me to have interior conversations with myself about the pros and cons to spending money on food and on things.  They were some intense debates, which ended in me learning to say, “NO!”  It’s not easy, but my faith is managing to save me.  God is managing to save me.  I had grace all around me, I just had to reach out to Him.  Call His name.

This summer, at Mass, there was a reading from Hebrews that spoke to me then but I didn’t appreciate until now.  “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).  I had always hoped to be in control of my spending and eating.  But now I am in charge, which is better, because the buck stops with me.  I’m in charge of where my life goes from here.  I am no longer sub-existing.  As for evidence not seen, I haven’t seen a dramatic weight loss or oodles of money increase in my bank accounts.  But I have seen my confidence increase and my ability to say, “NO” grows easier each day.  I am so blessed with good friends and wise advisers.

“I was made for more than being stuck in a vicious cycle of defeat.  I am not made to be a victim of my poor choices.  I was made to be a victorious child of God.” Lysa TerKeurst from Made to Crave


Praying for Bieber

by SweetMidlife

 

 

Lynne here!

So, if you’ve read the news, you’ve seen that Pop Star Justin Bieber was arrested last night in Miami for drag racing a rented sports car through the streets, and for being drunk while doing it. Justin has been on a downward spiral as of late, doing everything from not taking care of his pet monkey to having drugs in his home. It’s been nuts. So of course, when this latest news came out, there were loud choruses of people shaking their heads, or openly criticizing, or asking for his deportation. And I was somewhere in there, too.

But then I read a status update on Facebook from my wise friend Tracey, who asked what would happen if all of those talking about Justin Bieber today would use that energy praying for him? And I felt really convicted. Because although he is a huge, huge star with lots and lots of money, he is somebody’s child. Now, even though he is only 19, he is still responsible for the things that he does, and shouldn’t be given different treatment than any other underage kid caught driving while intoxicated. Which means that he should also be given the same grace you would want if he was your child, who got caught doing what he shouldn’t in your Ford in Baltimore instead of in a Lambogrhini in South Florida. You would want prayer. You would ask for support. You would hopefully also be trying to counsel him, and give him advice, and warn him that no good can come out of what he’s doing or out of the way he seems to be headed. That he should take responsibility for his mistakes, pay whatever restitution he needs to (jail time, money, penance, whatever). But that there is hope for him if he does. And that you want the best for him. Even before he started acting this way, Justin Bieber attracted lots of haters, who seemed to be jealous of him simply because he was successful. That’s wrong. And with the latest turn of events, as his behavior as gotten more and more horrid, people have condemned him for things he HAS actually done. And I think that it is important that people, especially young ones, see even famous people be held responsible for their mess-ups, because it shows that no one is above civility or obeying the either the laws of decency or of the land.

But no one is above grace, either. No one is above hope. We want to write people off, say “I told you so”, and head off to adore/lift-up/wait for the downfall of the next big thing. Yes, Justin Bieber is experiencing a very, very public meltdown. But I am pulling for him. Not in a way that excuses his behavior. Not in a way that condones it. But in a way that hopes for and prays for this young man, and all young/old people who have headed in the wrong direction to start listening to wiser people, to get their heads out of their own nether-regions, and to start living up to what they can be. It’s not too late, Justin. Own up to your junk and turn it around. You can do it.

We are praying for you.


Five Minute Friday: Grace

by SweetMidlife

Go:

Lynne here.

Someone sent me a link to this video where moms are asked to describe themselves as a mom, and everyone was pretty quick to bring up their own shortcomings, like they needed to be more patient, or that they were sometimes a little hard on their kids, and things like that. Then they watched video of their own kids describing them, and what stuck with the kids was that their moms were pretty, and that they love to play with them and spend time with them, and that they loved them. And of course, I sobbed. In the past 3 years I have become a wife, homeowner, and mostly stay at home mom but juggles working part time. And, in the duh statement of the year, it is freaking hard. And I don’t do it all correctly. And that doesn’t feel good. But what does feel great is that when I share these feelings, and when I stood up at a mom’s group meeting of what I thought were women who probably had it all together, people came up and said “Oh my gosh me too!” And the grace that I don’t always have for myself, came pouring out of other people, and that allowed me to soak in it, then pour it back on them. There is grace in honesty, in sharing those moments where we need grace the most. And I look back on those moments and use them as like grace reserves when I am hard on myself. I realize that I am not doing a bad job, and my house won’t fall down if I don’t sweep the floor tonight (or tomorrow), and my husband appreciates me, and my loudwonderfulhilariousopinionated kid loves me. I am doing okay.


Grace and Love (Courtney)

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here!!

My husband and I have a Season Pass on our DVR for “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson”. We think that he is hilarious and smart and a fantastic interviewer because he has actual conversations with his guests, and not fake set-up questions like, “So I hear you just bought a house?”, and the guest launches into a story they already planned. We like him a lot. When I am folding laundry or whatever,  I scroll through to see if anybody interesting has been on. So this morning, I looked on the list, and I saw that Courtney Love had been a guest. For those of you who missed the 90’s, or that part of them, Ms. Love was the lead singer of the band Hole, and is the widow of Kurt Cobain, the late, brilliant lead singer of Nirvana. They had a tumultuous marriage full of drugs and anger, so much, in fact, that there are a number of people who think that she had her husband killed. I don’t know anything about that, but I do know that she has been known as much for her drama and tirades and feuds and hot-messness as much as she has for her music and acting (and she is a great actress). She is even feuding publicly with her adult daughter, who comes off as quite sane, while Courtney comes off as nutty and irrational. So, when I saw that she was on Craig’s show, I almost didn’t watch it. And this is why.

I had no interest in Courtney Love being human.

When you mention her to a lot of people, they roll their eyes and say that she’s crazy. With most of her public fights with people, it is assumed that she is the one in the wrong, because, she is, well, crazy. But you know what? Comedian Dave Chappelle, whom I love, once said that crazy is the worst thing that you can call someone, because once you are labeled as crazy, people feel like they don’t need to try to understand you. You are just written off based on someone else’s say-so. And that is not fair. And that is what I wanted to do with Courtney. Because if I listened to her, there was a possibility that I would actually have to alter my opinion of her.

So I watched the interview. And I liked it. And I liked her. She owns up to a lot of her previous nuttiness. And it was an honest interview. Now, has she done a bunch of crazy stuff? YES. But everyone should get a chance to explain. To redeem themselves. But we are so willing to condemn, to categorize, to take at face value, to judge, without letting people tell or show us who they are. We are hasty to judge, and lacking in grace.

And it sucks.

Did the world change because I watched Courtney Love on a late night show? No. But how many people in my own life have I filed in the “crazy” category without giving them a chance to explain, without seeing for myself? More than I probably want to know. But I owe it to them, to me, to the God that has extended me grace over and over and over to extend the same. In person, and through the TV. It is the right thing to do.

 


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