7 Attitude Adjustments From the Beattitudes

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Jesus taught his disciples about the priorities of his Father’s kingdom by teaching them the beatitudes. Sometimes they described priorities opposite of what we might expect, and they always showed that blessings come from assuming a Christ-like attitude. Here are some beatitudes that can change your attitude to be more like Jesus:

My dear readers, will you join me at Family Fire?

…and I chronicle His grace

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Conflict: Setting the Scene to Reorient Hearts

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It’s been a long day and tempers flare at home. It seems like everyone needs an attitude adjustment, including you. How do you lead your family toward Christ-centered behavior in the midst of a brewing storm? Noticing how Jesus taught his disciples can help with keeping those temperaments in check. In Matthew 5, for example, as Jesus prepares to teach the Beatitudes, he begins by setting the tone to reorient our hearts.

Here are some tips we can see from the life of Jesus as he taught his disciples.

Friends, I am over at Family Fire with the rest of this article….join me there?

Being found Knowwhere

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How do I know? he asks, that it is God and not positive words and energy bringing my stormy life peace?

The world can be so ugly that I can’t blame him for asking. His own life stained by the pain of a chronically ill parent and girlfriend. The news filled with grown up gangs who slice off someone’s head just because they hate someone else.

The whole, if God is a loving, powerful, miraculous God, then why would He…

I remember 1000 tiny reasons why, and I’m grateful to have counted, but that’s not how I really know. I remember hearing about the wonders of the universe, the amazement of creation, but the knowing is not found there…at least not for me. I can be talked into science and accidental beauty and perfection as unlikely as they may seem. I ponder if it is community and His Body, but although a thing of beauty, it is not them that brings certainty to my faith question. I think about my well worn, weathered security blanket and question whether it is His Words that bring the knowing? I am getting closer to the Truth, I can tell, but still not quite at my destination of Determined Purpose.

Then I remember dark nights when I wake on my own to a terror more tangible than pain, I remember sorrow so deep that I am certain I am no longer whole but broken in two and memories of circumstances far beyond my control that trap me into a claustrophobic corner. Yes this is how I know.

I know when my cross gets too heavy, when I have failed miserably, when the phone rings and the words I least want to hear are uttered.

I know when the valley seems too deep and the surrounding mountains too steep to scale even on my most athletic and healthy day.

Yes, ironically, these are the things that cause me to know.

Because what am I fighting if I’m not fighting real evil? Who am I struggling against if that evil isn’t personified? And if evil is personified as a Devil then who made him? Sometimes it’s easier to believe in the Devil than it is in God.

And why does the war continue to get more intense? If it’s just the ugliness of human nature, how do we know, really know deep inside,that things can be better, that we can be better?

And most importantly, how am I aware that I am not alone when that terror wakes me, when the television flickers real life horror, when the telephone rings with the worst news ever?

I know because out of knowwhere, He is here. In this room. Right now. In me and around me. He is here when He is knowwhere to be found in the shell shocked world. He comforts, coaches and soothes my battle scars.

I know because I know Him. I don’t just know of or about Him. I know Him. In the ancient writings a husband and wife knew each other and it was the most intimate of knowing, the closest two human beings can get and the fruit of that is a little bundle of perfect innocence. There is a knowing of spirits too and the fruit of it is that of transformation from the deepest parts. A changing from death to life.

I know One who has brought me to a place called Knowwhere, and in the place no thing is as reals as the One who carried me there. Yes there is a place called Knowwhere and here is the knowing. It is entered by grace and kept safe by faith.

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I pray that the young man who asked the question has a Grace Day soon. The day he has the grace to believe that he can know. In the meantime, I am grateful for the question because it’s always good to remember why we know…Succinctly, precisely How. We. Know.

I know because He reveals. He reveals because He loves. He loves because that is Who He is. Now I live knowwhere, and it’s just where I want to be found.

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The Dishes – A Formal Event

kd sullivan:

I pulled out an old post today. Find a place to dance with Him today.

Originally posted on Journey Towards Epiphany:

I had an epiphany doing what is ordinary, even mundane, tonight. We had Easter Dinner 2.0, fine china and all::Ham, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole and strawberry poppy seed salad. When conversation landed and plates were scraped clean, it was time to do dishes. They offered, but for some reason I declined the help. Instead, I started with the glasses and a sink full of almost scalding water capped with Ann’s bubbles, and it came to me. Why not make an event out of doing the dishes? So I blasted Mozart, and lit a candle, and enjoyed the method of it all; the music and it’s repetition, the order of washing: glasses, then plates, then serving dishes, then pans, and finally silverware after changing the water once. And then, I realize that what is usually a chore had become an event worthy of printed invitations and gowns. And…

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When Numbers Become Stories

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There is a dilapidated stove on the back porch along with some broken furniture and a bag of tattered clothing. A volunteer and I knock on the paint peeled door, unsure of what to expect. Lock jiggling, we see a brown eye through the crack. “We are here from Love INC,” I hear myself say. The door opens quickly to the rest of the face and a smile erupts as our hostess graciously invites us in.

I try not to draw my breath in surprise. An immaculate flat with gleaming golden oak floors beams in front of us. Our friend introduces herself and her children. They also smile big and thank us for coming. They are sitting on the floor eating homemade breakfast biscuits balanced on a napkin. There is no furniture in this home, no plates for the food. Just a single plastic stacking chair in the kitchen which they reserve for mama. Teenage girls grin cross legged on linoleum.

My volunteer and I are here on a home visit. Recently our Love INC affiliate began a Beds and Blessings ministry providing bunk beds, mattresses and bedding for families in need. This is our first client and I like to observe the process at the start so that I can help write the procedures for these volunteer opportunities. Typically these visits are to verify need and check the space to ensure that there is room for our gift. The need was apparent and the empty rooms ensured plenty of space.

The solitary chair is surrounded by mounds of neatly folded bedding used to make pallets for this mom and her six children. They’ve been living like this for the past two months. After recently fleeing domestic abuse, this brave family spent time in a shelter and was now venturing out on their own. They were clearly happy to be together.

Much time is spent at our board meetings discussing people just like this as a number. “Forty three families were served by Love INC this month,” we might say. Or, “50 volunteers gave 412 hours this quarter,” I might boast. But this family? They are not just a number that nameless volunteers visit to fulfill community service hours. No, they are royalty. The children are princes and princesses who treat their brave warrior mama like the queen that she is. They have made a home out of the shambles of their lives. Grateful for napkins and a plastic chair.

What a pleasure it will be to deliver not only two bunk beds, but two single beds, a couch, a dining room table and chairs as well as several small pieces of furniture to this family. At the close of our visit we asked to pray for them. Prayers are welcome and the family gathered in a circle clad with hands of various shades of brown. When my companion and I finish our petitions, our hostess prays for us. She thanks God for sending generous Christians to help and asks Him to bless our homes and families. A familiar lump in my throat and stinging in my eyes threatens to reveal swelling emotions. Because sometimes experiencing the story of a life makes cold hard numbers a beautiful thing.

linking with the amazing people at The High Calling.

…and I chronicle His grace

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Advice From an Experienced Parent: Five Things Empty-Nesters Never Say

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Many of my children’s friends are now married and having babies. Lately, as I held a newborn, one new mother asked for some advise from an experienced parent. Of course there is all the practical advice about diaper brands, nursing vs. bottles, and which baby monitor works well, but I wanted to concentrate on the more important matters of raising a child in a way that gives them every chance to become a godly person. In so doing, I reflected on conversations I’ve had with my empty-nester friends…wanna hear the rest? Go here to find out what empty nesters never say.

When Tragedy Strikes Too Close To Home

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Our girlish chatter stopped mid sentence as the car turned the corner revealing two blocks of emergency vehicles blocking our turn onto my street. I muttered something unintelligible to my friend as I hopped out of the car still rolling to a stop. “Excuse me ma’am, who are you?” A police officer stopped me before I could step foot on my block, “I live on that block,” I didn’t wait for a response and pushed past the police office and into the street.

My son had been home while I was at a women’s ministry dinner, and the iPhone he keeps telling me is ancient had batteries long ago dead. My heart pounded in my ears…was it my house causing all of that smoke? Had my son been calling desperate for comfort or even worse help? Turning the corner I saw ghostly grey plumes of smoke rolling in my direction. I sighed with relief. It was not my home. My son was in the front yard, camera in hand, waiting for my return.

On the way to my house, I must have still looked ashen as a neighbor grabbed me and held me saying, “No, it’s not your house, thank God.” And my son greeted me with the irritation that only comes when worry builds and communication fails, “When are you going to get a new phone Mom? I’ve been trying to call you for an hour!” His arm wrapped around my shoulders.

Two of my old Home Bible study members ran onto the block with admonishments similar to my son’s as they had tried to reach me to see if I was alright but to no avail. Arms all tangled in tearful hugs of relief, our eyes could not peel from the glowing embers of what was once home to a single mom and her two young adult children.

It was difficult to sleep that night as blue and red flickered on my ceiling past four a.m. There were sounds of hammering and staple guns as they boarded up what was left of the house. And then I remembered, in the midst of my relief, that it is still my neighbor’s house destroyed. The one I had invited repeatedly to my ladies’ Bible study on Wednesday mornings, but who had never come. My relief meant that someone else was suffering.

It was real to them. It was their two dogs killed by inhaling that ghostly vapor. It was their baby pictures and favorite sweaters and grandma’s afghans that had been roasted and then soaked. It was their life that had gone up in smoke. I went to sleep relieved but I woke up ashamed. I was relieved to be untouched while my neighbors had been devastated.

Sometimes, when tragedy hits closest to home, in our gratitude we forget to be sympathetic. Sometimes it’s easier to sympathize with the Christians on the other side of the world than it is with our next door neighbors. I wonder why?

Could it be that in our love for what belongs to us we grasp too tightly unable to see anything beyond ourselves? Could it be that our own neighborhood sees when our lawn needs to be mowed and hears our teenager shout angry things through the summer open windows? Could it be that placing ourselves in our neighbors shoes demands hand to hand interaction in a social media world, and we just don’t want to get involved? Could it be that we don’t know how to answer the awkward questions of why, and so we avoid putting ourselves in the position of being asked to begin with?

It is true. I am grateful for angels protecting my home. But in publicly acknowledging their presence in my home am I telling my neighbor that they were absent from hers?

Human nature hates the messiness of these questions. We default to what is easy, and sometimes what is easy is to turn away. But this is when I want His nature to overcome mine. His nature stands with us in the middle of crisis, never leaving us. His nature doesn’t run from unhappy endings and headlines, but runs to the rescue, sits beside those who have lost. Prays for those who are hurting.

The house is boarded up now. An empty container of what once was a home. And though I’ve since reached out to them, they have not responded. I can only pray that they have found the Source of all comfort. And yes, I pray for the persecuted on the other sie of the world because what they are experiencing is unthinkable. But sometimes my neighbor’s tragedies are forced on my realities and I would rather shove the pain of it aside than make it thinkable. Maybe the truth is that I am afraid to feel their pain.

It’s easier to send a nice check to the starving and hurting than to sit quietly with my neighbor as she sorts through charred memories. Maybe when tragedy hits too close to home it hits too close to home.

…and I chronicle His grace here

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