Souvenirs for the Soul: Dangerous or Stunning?

Call me unorthodox, but they didn’t look beautiful to me. Oh, they took my breath away, but they looked…

Dangerous

… like gaping jaws, ready to suck me in, crush me to pieces, and finish me off. I felt threatened by their enormous, jagged wildness. My initial response was to beg the Lord to keep me far away—at a safe altitude as I flew high above them toward my destination in Alaska.

Last week I shared about my experience flying over the Yukon Mountains . I related how I had to quelch the fear that those mountains could destroy me, and choose to marvel at their grandeur instead. I shared how at first they terrified me, until I decided to let them inspire me. Because once I got past my fear, I could see they were …

Stunning

… an endless, pristine display of God’s magnificence.

But you know what? Those mountains were inanimate. They were just sitting there. Somehow despite their lifelessness they had stirred powerful emotions. How is that? Because in reality, a piece of rock of any size can’t wield that kind of power. It has no control over my reactions. My fears were actually prompted by something deeper—more than likely a lack of understanding or experience with those mountains.

Souvenir for the Soul:

The same is true with people’s opinions. We have no control over how people view us. We aren’t capable, nor are we responsible, to dictate what people think. We can seek to better inform others, but in the end …

Whether they think we’re dangerous or stunning is their choice.

A couple of things to consider here.

One, we need to do all we can to be at peace with those around us, and then leave the results with the Lord.* It was the Creator, after all, that caused me to change my feelings about the Yukon Mountains. He is fully capable to change what people think—as long as they’re willing (something we can’t do a thing about either).

June 12 We have no control over how people see us

Two, the opinion we do have control over is our own. How do we view those around us, especially the ones that look dangerous? I’m not talking about an unsafe person who can physically or emotionally harm us. I’m talking about our mother-in-law, or neighbor, or coworker that we tend to avoid because we seem to frequently irritate each other. And, of course, our unattached children might very well fit into the dangerous category, too.

I wonder what would happen if we started viewing the “dangerous” people in our lives as “stunning”.**

Wondrous creations of God. What kind of difference might it make?

If I imagine what it might be like to have my feet on the ground—up close and personal—in the middle of the Yukon Mountains, I have a pretty good idea, my opinion of them would change dramatically. Maybe, the people we fear are like that, too. Maybe we need to take the time to draw closer: feel their soil beneath our feet, meander through their wildness, smell the fragrance of the flowers that grow in their crevices, drink from the waters that spring from their depths. I have a feeling we’d be amazed at their beauty.

June 12 Maybe its time we meander

A word of caution: We can’t crash land in their midst. We have to study guide books, pack water and energy bars, wear appropriate shoes, and examine the landscape to find the safest trails. We have to tread respectfully.

And maybe it would help if they got a closer look at us. Maybe this week might be a good time to extend an invitation. A smile. A compliment. A note in the mail. A cup of coffee at a nearby venue.

They may never change their view of us, but I have a feeling the Creator would like us to seek out our own fresh perspective of them. He’d like us to quelch our idea that someone is dangerous, and deliberately look for what’s stunning.

Without naming anyone, share in the comments three words that describe the stunning beauty of a person you used to think was dangerous.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
*If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written:
“It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:17-21, NIV

**In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:12, NASB

 

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Would You Like a Refill?

 

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Sometimes when you sip a cup of warmth, the contents can turn a bit tepid. So how about a top-off of this week’s cups? It’s Thursday, the day I re-serve the warmth shared throughout the previous six days of the Write 31 Days challenge. That way if you missed anything, or simply want a refill, the offerings are here for your enjoyment.

And for those who drink til the last drop, you’ll find a link to a generous offer from DaySpring. (DaySpring, the Christian branch of Hallmark, is an official sponsor of Write31Days. They have something very special for the faithful readers of our posts. They are saying thank you for me in a way I can’t.) But you only have one day left to respond—deadline is Oct 28.

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Feel free to take your time soaking in the warmth of God’s graciousness, served in my little nook of the world. There’s nothing better than enjoying a cup with a friend, so feel free to take a seat and share your heart. My cup is warm but my heart is warmer—eager to hear your thoughts.


Friday, Oct 21, defined the flavor of true humility.

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Humility for a Heart Enslaved by Pride


Saturday, Oct 22, served the reminder of where to place legitimate expectations.

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Reality for a Heart with Faulty Expectations


Sunday, Oct 23, offered hope for the recognition we desire.

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Recognition for a Heart Overlooked


Monday, Oct 24, placed unforgiveness on the table so we could examine what it really means.

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Freedom from a Heart of Unforgiveness


Tuesday, Oct 25, offered an assurance that sometimes walls are necessary (and I’m not talking about geographical walls).

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Assurance for a Heart Protected


And, Wednesday, Oct 26, served a reminder of who’s really in charge

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A Pry Bar for a Heart Clutching


Now for that offer. DaySpring is an official supporter of Write31Days and they are offering our readers a chance for a $100 gift certificate. $100! That’s awesome! So click the link and it will take you to the special signup page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to use the Rafflecopter giveaway widget before October 28th. If you’re the winner DaySpring will contact you directly.


I can’t believe there are only four days left of this challenge! Thank you for being a dear friend and reading the messages God has burned into my soul during the years I had kids at home. I pray that you are encouraged and that those spots of your own heart that have grown cold, have been warmed by God’s grace and faithfulness.

I will resume my weekly blog again on Monday, November 7th. November! Oh my how this year has flown by. But, I’ve more material to share and a few surprises in store. So stay tuned.

Reality for a Heart with Faulty Expectations

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“I keep waiting for the honeymoon to end!” I could feel her glow over the phone as I concluded my interview with the reference our adoption agency had given me.

Six months later I wondered, what honeymoon? Never for a single moment did it show its face.

Frankly, I expected things to be tough—that is for the first several months. But I figured it would eventually get better. Our kids would learn to trust; our love would heal their wounds; and other than typical childhood issues, we’d emerge as a warm and cozy family.

What was I thinking?

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What does it tell you when a family can’t hold onto their offspring? What does it mean when a county is willing to sell her children? What does it do to the heart of a child, not to mention the brain, when everything that felt secure is ripped from their hands? Do we really think they’re going to trust us so easily, if ever? Do we truly believe they can grasp our love? Is it realistic to expect they know how to integrate into a family?

Is it right to expect ourselves to have the power to melt all and mend all? No! I can tell you right here and now, that power is completely out of our hands. It doesn’t matter what we’ve studied (though I recommend study all you can), how selflessly we give, how firmly we stand, or how sweetly we love. We will never be enough.

So am I saying, lower our expectations? Yes, I am. Let go of expecting our SAFE children to look like us. It isn’t going to happen. Equally, we need to relax the demands we place on ourselves.

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So what about the promise: Train up a child in the way which he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6, NKJV)? First of all, many times people misinterpret this verse. But, I can also say that once my kids hit their mid to late twenties, I started seeing this promise fulfilled. The evidence of our work and love in their lives is starting to show up all over the place.

Guess what? We’re finally getting our honeymoon and it is sweeeeet! Bitter moments still pop up and I have to revisit the lessons I’ve learned over the years—especially about backing up and letting God do the needed work. But those moments pass and the sweetness returns.

So here are a few promises that held me steady over the years.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33, NKJV)

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4, NKJV)

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12, NIV)

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:9, NKJV)

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. (Psalm 36:5, NIV)

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22-23, NKJV)

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:7-9, NKJV)

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalm 34:18, NIV)