Archive for the ‘relationships’ Category

More about Grace

Despite my last post about being overwhelmed by grace, I don’t think I really get it yet.  I’ve been thinking about how many times I DON”T give grace.  If I truly understood AND lived in the reality of God’s grace, then I would offer it much more freely and much more frequently.

I know this is going to shock, but there are some people in my life that are NOT perfect.  I KNOW!  Crazy, huh?   Kidding aside, nobody is perfect (including me, I remind myself), and the closer you are to someone and the more time you spend with them, the more likely you are to see their flaws.   Sometimes it’s easy to give grace.  Sometimes it’s not.  The concept of grace has been perfected with Christ’s death.  We can’t offer what we don’t have.  We have recieved grace and, therefore, the ability to give it comes from God–and not of ourselves.

I’m thankful for grace.

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Lest you think I’m perfect…

’cause I KNOW that’s what yall are thinkin’…ha.

My sister made a comment on one of my posts about me and my blog being spiritual, and it got me thinking.  Am I?  What does that mean?  I feel like there is a certain level of expectation that goes along with that.  Maybe rightly so, I’m not sure.  What I do know is that it makes me nervous.  Because I:

  • am not perfect–not even close
  • have not arrived…in fact, I keep tripping myself up on my journey
  • don’t have it all together
  • am very selfish and have to work really hard to remember that life is not all about me and want I want
  • struggle with relationships-being a friend, being a wife…you know, thinking of others needs and feelings before my own
  • am critical and judgmental of others  (thinking they should be perfect even though I’m not)

Granted, I’m spending a lot of time in God’s word right now and I guess that’s coming out in my blog posts.    But that’s a choice.   And only because I was at the end of my rope, did I grab the hem of His garment. (I really hate that word picture–it’s from an email fwd that I see alot!)  But seriously,  I was tired, so tired, of trying to live life on the fence…and that’s where I was, trying to live in the world and conform, and trying to work and live for Jesus—at the same time.  My butt still hurts from squirming on those pickets! (how’s that for a word picture.)

I began to ask myself questions like, “Am I really all in?” “If I stopped believing in Christ today, would my life change?”  “Do I really love God?”   If I’m being honest, the answer to those questions was no.  And I’m talking recently, within the last 12 months or so.  That might surprise people that know me, or it might not.  I might have looked the part of the “Christian”, but deep down, I was bordering on practical Atheist.

I want the answers to those questions to be a whole-hearted YES!  The truth is, it’s not a switch that you can throw and it just happens.  It’s a daily choice to pursue Him, choose Him, love Him, give up stuff, put Him first.   So, why bother?  Because I need His forgiveness, His grace, His salvation, His guidance–I’m absolutely certain I would self destruct with out Him.   Christ gave His life for me–my only logical response is to give mine back to Him.

Just because I talk of spiritual things, does not mean I have it all figured out.  Don’t use me as an example of how to live life…  I’ll do my best, but I’ll fail…guaranteed.  I hope that as I spend more time with Jesus, that I will look more like him and less like me.  My greatest fear is that I’ll show too much Cari when people think they are looking at a “Christian”…that people would be confused about who Christ is, because I did not represent Him well. Only Christ is worthy of mirroring.

Love is…

I’m reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan(as is everyone in my circle right now) mostly in an effort to redefine love in my mind.  I highly recommend it, btw.

My desire is to love God again.  To feel love for Him, to fall in love with Him, to just be able to say “I’m crazy about Jesus!”  Somehow, I’ve lost that lovin’ feeling.  My relationship with Him has been ok, but I’m trying to figure out if I love Him, really love Him.  I don’t want to just say it b/c I’m supposed to.

Since I know that the most important command in the bible is to Love God w/ all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and the second most important is to love people, I need to know….do I?  Does this seem like an easy question?  You would think someone would know if she loved someone or not.  But what is love?  Is it a feeling?  Is it a choice?  An action?  An emotion?

I’ll go to the source of love to find out what love is.  The bible says in I Cor that:

Love is patient. Love is kind.  Love is not jealous, boastful, or proud, or rude.  It does not demand its own way, it is not irritable and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice, but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

So…that’s it.  That’s what love is.  Not a feeling or an emotion.  It’s a choice to put someone else first.   If I love God, I’ll put him first.  If I love my husband, I’ll put him before myself.  If I love others, I’ll put their needs before my own.  To love my kids comes easy and natural, but beyond that…not so easy–I find that selfishness and pride get in the way of real, genuine love.

Is love obvious to everyone else?  Is it easy?

I love my mom

I talk to my mom every day and see her several times a week.  She lives close and I know I’m lucky.  Believe me, I know.  I lived 1000 miles away from her for a year.  But now I live 1 mile away from her.  I’m lucky.  I know my sister would love to live closer to her.  I do not take it for granted.

My mom is an incredible women.  Brave, strong, funny, beautiful, generous.  We laugh together, A LOT.  Mostly b/c I think I’m way funny…and she humors me….ask her about her witch doctor…he he.

She encourages me.  She’s a great listener.  She’s a giver. She’s wise.

She listens to me. Sometimes I drone on and on and talk about random stuff that doesn’t even matter…and she listens.  She listens because she cares.  or b/c she’s polite.  She’s made her share of mistakes in life, like we all have, and she encourages me to make the right choices.  She’s not afraid to hurt my feelings and tell me like it is.   I like that.  I need that.

For some reason, she likes to clean out her pantry every time I’m at her house.  I’ll be headed out the door and she’s standing in the pantry, pulling things out to give to me. “Here, will you guys eat these?” Here, take this box of crackers, the kids will eat these.”  or she’s in her room, “Here, take this shirt, it doesn’t fit me right.” She’s a giver.

She loves my kids and loves to spend time with them.  And they KNOW she loves them and they feel the same about her.  She’s the best grandma I know.   She’s great with advice on what to do with them too.  You know, b/c she’s been there, done that.   She’s wise.

Words could never be enough to tell her how much I love her, like her, appreciate her, need her.

Thanks, mom.  I love you!

My last post…

No, not my last one!  I was just referencing the last thing I posted to my blog!  I know, whew! Actually, the thing before last since I was thinking about food all day yesterday….Although, I seriously considered ending this bloggity thing–it’s really hard to be transparent!  There’s a fine line between sharing when it might be beneficial for someone else, and over-sharing…I’m going to tread real close to that line, I just know it.  But, I know I’m not the only one who is affected by visual media in this way.  No way.

So, I wonder how many non-girls read my last post?  How many people now know that I struggle with being discontent in my relationships b/c of messages planted in my head by Hollywood?  I wish I were better with words so that I could say everything about this that I want to say.  God has been revealing truth to me about this issue for YEARS.  YEARS.  I’m so slow to learn.

I’ve thought before that romantic scenes in movies are my emotional porn.  If a scene in a movie has some dude really loving a girl–I’m mean really emotionally engaged with her, then I want to watch that scene over and over.  I can play it over in my head in a longing sort of way.   Yeah, I know it’s not healthy.  and I know it’s not reality.

You might (or might not) be thinking, but, Cari, aren’t you married?  Yes, I am.  But, I think that my expectations for emotional connection are way out of touch with reality.  My poor husband could never measure up.  This is not (by any stretch of the imagination) my only relationship issue, but it’s where God is working most intently right now in my life.

Am I the only one?

For girls only…

Unless you just want to delve into the inner workings of the female mind, I suggest you click here instead of reading on. 🙂  You’ve been warned.  You’re welcome, Justin. 🙂

I read a post this morning over at Virtuous Reality that made my heart stop.  I wanted to just copy and paste the whole thing over here, but I’ll link to it instead at the bottom and just touch on a couple of points.  I love this blog, b/c it’s about girls and combating the messages that the world sends to them.  (It’s actually a blog for teen girls) But, it’s everything God is teaching me about who I am,  who I am not, and why I struggle with the sin that I struggle with.

“Our world has built up human relationships as the ultimate goal for girls, but Biblically the ultimate relationship is always always Jesus. He’s the original White Knight riding in on His horse to save us (Revelation 19:11) and He is the only Faithful and True love who will satisfy.”

Ok, this sounds lovely, but really?  Can Jesus really satisfy the longing in my soul to be loved, cherished, desired?

“if you find that you are obsessed with the stories and dream of being swept off your feet by someone like Edward (from the Twilight books), you probably need to step back from the books and spend some time pursuing the Lover of your soul who died so that you could truly live. We settle much too easily for what the world has to offer and miss out on the one thrilling relationship that we were made for.”

The world has trained girls/women, ME, to think that the fantasy of stories from books, movies and TV is somehow linked to the reality of real world relationships.  Why is it that girls LOVE chick flicks and TV shows with romance?? Why??  Because we are relational.  That’s the way God designed us.  and because girls need to know that somebody thinks we are beautiful.  That somebody loves us, accepts us, completes us, takes care of us, protects us, stands up for us.  We’re empty, scared, and vulnerable without that somebody.

Well, correct me if I’m wrong and you do have this perfect man, but I’m thinkin’ that my Jesus is the ONLY one who could ever fill these shoes.  So for now, for me, ALL other influences must be silenced so that I can hear my  Jesus saying, “Cari, you’re beautiful.  Cari, you are completely loved and accepted. Cari, I will defend you, protect you, and never leave you.”  Cari, you are special to me and I’m so proud of you.”  “Cari, nobody will ever separate me from you. I will always be there for you and always, always be EVERYTHING you need.”

Nothing else will satisfy my desire to be loved, cherished, and desired.

http://www.virtuousreality.com/blog/2008/11/vampires_take_2.html

Communicatin’ with a teenager

So, I’ve been praying EVERY day for both of my kids.  On Friday, it was after noon when I remembered to pray for them for the day and I almost panicked!   The idea of the absence of prayer has been getting to me–if I believe in the power of prayer, then what is the power of the absence of it?  Not that I think that if I don’t pray for them, that God won’t watch over them, or work in their lives…because he still will…so why pray?  Oh yeah, relationship.  oh, this God thing is so complicated for my brain…

Anyway, when I pray for them, especially for Cory, I always think of things that I should have told him…stuff like, “remember to be humble, even though you get to wear your football jersey to school today”, or “be sweet to the girls-be a gentleman”.  you know, stuff like that.

Cindy Beall posted about the importance of communication…just talking.  Keeping the lines open.  I am happy to say that in the last 3 days, I’ve made an intentional effort to do this with Cory.  Saturday night, I was tired and Cory was still up (working on nothing less than a duct tape wallet!).  I went to bed, but only laid there for about 90 seconds before I realized that I couldn’t miss a chance to “help” him with the wallet and just sit with him to talk.  I brought up the subject of girlfriends–something we had touched on a couple of weeks before.  This is something he’s uncomfortable talking about with me–I think he was afraid that I would tease him.  So, I laid it all out for him.  Told him not to hide it, that his dad and I wanted to be involved, answer questions, that we cared about him, accepted him, and expected that he would like a girl or two because it was normal and the way God created him to think and feel.

It was a good connection, I think.  Definitely worth missing 1/2 hour of sleep for.  and the wallet turned out awesome–card pockets and everything!