When Push Comes to Shove

“This is MY swing!” yelled the boy, pushing the little girl into the gravel. As she began to cry over her bleeding skinned knee, the boy took his seat on the swing, pumping higher and higher into the air. “Wheeeee! I’m the king of the wooooorrrrrrrrrrrlllllllllllD!!!” he declared.

The boy’s mom sat oblivious on the bench nearby blabbering away on her cell phone. The girl’s daddy came quickly to scoop her up, holding her close to his chest. In between hysteric whimpers, she poured out her pain to him: “He (gasp) pushed (sniff) me (snort) Daddy (full out bawl).”
He tenderly replied, “I know, sweetheart, I saw the whole thing. It’s okay now, you’re safe.”

All of a sudden, the dad did something that surprised all those watching. He lifted his daughter up onto his shoulders. At first, she whined, “No, daddy, I’m scared.” He assured her that she was secure, so she tried to sit up straight, leaning forward and holding on to his chin at first. The man turned into a boy that moment, changing from a walk in the park to a giddy-up, jig-jagged gallop around the park with her, to which the little one began to giggle. As he grasped her legs firmly around his neck, she sat up completely straight, shoulders back and chest out. “I’m the luckiest girl in the WoooorrrrrlllllD,” she shrieked with delight, throwing her arms completely outstretched in the air. She was safe and free at last.
*****

This is the picture of the Christian life, friends. Sometimes, we’re feeling blessed along the way, kind of like a trip to the park–from tire swing, to slide, to see saw, to sand. And it’s invigorating. Then someone comes along who pushes us down, causing us not only a skinned knee, but a wounded heart in the process. But our Father is so loving and so compassionate that He scoops us up and lifts us high above the pain to experience His safety and the pleasure that stems from it (although it is not always as immediate as in the story).

Even Job understood this in the middle of his horrific pain (5:11): “The lowly He sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.” What a beautiful reminder for the times when we are hurt or persecuted, even if we’re not sure why we’re experiencing it.

Did you notice that we don’t know how the story above got its start? Was the little girl racing for the swing excitedly after finding it in her view? Perhaps she was just standing in the way of the swing. OR, did she push the boy first as she tried to get the swing for herself? We have no idea if she was innocent or just as selfish as the boy, do we? This matters to us, because in our minds, if it were her fault, then surely the same response from her dad would not be warranted.

That’s the thing about God….His ways are SO not our ways, are they?

“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. ..As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.”
Psalm 103:8-10, 13-14, NIV

God wants us to see that from His perspective is a whole other view of our circumstances. We were formed by His hands.He knows we are not perfect as He is–that we are going to mess up in our human filth. But because of His merciful, abounding love, His comfort and security are available to us no matter what we’ve done. It is the forgiveness that comes from the trust we placed in Jesus Christ to make the sacrifice for our sins, as well as the sins of others, along with the security & identity He gives us from that day forward. Praise the Lord! Now that encourages me!

Which person in the park are you right now? The pusher? The pushed down? The one on the cell phone? The one scooping up the hurting? The specatator? The one enjoying the slide on the other side?

From that grid, let’s take a moment to picture the characteristics of God from the verses above and apply them to our hearts. We could be any of them from one day to the other, and God has something in it for us no matter—so let’s allow Him, our King of the wooorrrrrrrrld, to minister to us and others through our own walk in the park today. Amen.

By His grace, LauraLee

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Mom Came In Like A Wrecking Ball

imageSometimes I recall it in slow motion: Those moments when my kids are laughing, bantering back and forth about this and that, volume rising. A friendly debate ensues, and this mom sees it’s fixin’ to get nowhere fast, maybe even ugly.
Then BAM, something inside me snaps, and I just want it to end. I don’t want the conflict, the arguing, the drama. There goes the wrecking ball, aka my tongue lashing, swooshing in to destroy the pettiness and pride.

But whose going to destroy mine?

Please join me for the rest of the article at The M.O.M. initiative. I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories.

By His grace, LauraLee

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Stale Devotion

I was sorting through my pantry last night & then through my freezer & fridge. It was embarrassing to see how much waste existed in the bottom of packages or in unsealed bags. Stuff that none of my family members will eat, because it’s not fresh enough. It’s stale.

Later in bed, I was thinking about how easy it is for me to let my heart grow stale, in my devotion to God, my relationships and to mankind in general. Compassion is still there, empathy is still there…but the tender-heartedness is another story. I think it’s because entitlement, ego & expectations go left unchecked and then settle in and make themselves comfy in my heart.

The only way I know to change that is to ask God to change that. He, through the working of the Holy Spirit and the cleansing of His Word, can renew and tenderize my heart for Him and for others.

How about you? Has your devotion to the Lord or to others grown stale? Do you long to abide in Christ more fully? Let’s not waste a single ounce of the gracious love we’ve been given. Pray, alongside me, that He would renew our hearts to love in Spirit and in Truth, fully & genuinely, by His grace and for His glory.

Luke 10:27
“‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Philippians 2:1
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from His love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate?

Colossians 3:12
Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

1 John 4:19
We love each other because He loved us first.

1 Peter 3:8
Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.

By His grace, LauraLee

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An “Alternative” Perspective for Moms

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-individual-fish-image23326197

My social media news feeds have been buzzing about Olympian freestyle skier & medalist David Wise and his devout Christian faith…otherwise known as an “alternative lifestyle.”

I agree the news reporter’s description is a bit alarming at first read, but I’d like to offer a different perspective on the subject. I’ve written about it today at http://www.themominitiative.com/2014/02/26/a-wise-alternative/. Come by for a visit!

By His grace, LauraLee

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Posted in christian living article, identity, LauraLee Shaw, motherhood, obedience, parenting, prayer, priorities, raising teens, set apart life, surrender | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unmaintained.

image (1)
Half of our front yard has been a mess for quite awhile. Besides having dead grass, our Live Oak has kind of taken on a life of its own. Last week marked the third time its roots had invaded our home sewer system, making for quite a stink in our guest bathroom. The first two times, we had a plumber come and dig out the roots, but both times they warned us this would continue to happen without a permanent fix, which had it’s brochure full of provided solutions.

We let it go. But this third time was quite the charm. Not only had the roots grown back into the sewer system, they had also grown into a broken plumbing pipe 4 feet underneath the tree.

image

So three days and nearly three thousand dollars later, we have our backed up sewer and our broken pipes repaired, but that Live Oak tree still stands. We’re having it removed this week, and replaced with a tree that is more conducive to our needs.

We have projects just like this all over the yard, and in the house. Areas, unmaintained, begging for attention. It’s eye-opening really. It’s beyond procrastination…more like if we ignore it, it will go away. Or maybe nothing will go wrong with it.

The thought that kept coming to my mind over and over last week as they drilled & hammered & dug…”There are so many areas in my life that are suffering from neglect.” My prayer life, my study time. The two areas I’ve always had the biggest emphasis on have been horribly hit and miss for the past while. And when those go by the wayside, so do the disciplines that flow as a result, like my eating, working out, getting enough sleep, etc. And when those go by the wayside…I’m sure you get the point.

My heart’s desire is to consistently abide in Christ, to stay deeply rooted in Spirit & in Truth. I don’t want to look spiritually all together on the outside, yet be a tangled mess on the inside. I don’t want unmaintained roots that take on a stinky life of their own and become destructive to my relationship with God and others. That’s exactly what happens, though, when I become complacent and take my relationship with Christ for granted.

Lord, Jesus, be my maintainer, my enabler, my strength & discipline so that I can steadfastly abide in You. Thank You for being constant and ever near, even when I am not. It is all by Your grace and for Your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

colossians 2_6 7

By His grace, LauraLee

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Taming “Those” Behaviors

dreamstime_xs_7649981Actor & Comedian Ray Romano is quoted as saying, “The more I go through parenting, the more I say I owe my mother an apology.” Too funny and TOO true! I remember about eight years back when I was a mother of a post toddler, a soon-to-be-tween & a pre-teenager, I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing a majority of the time. Some days, the goin’ was pretty smooth. However, when “those” times came—the ones where behavior problems, entitlement issues and disrespect rose up—then I would lean on the wisdom of the great parents I knew who had gone before me.

One of the best nuggets of advice I ever received on taming “those” behaviors was from a mother of five. She suggested starting with three things before trying any kind of punishment: 1. Get eye contact (have them stop what they’re doing and look me in the eye), 2. Cut back verbal freedom (no interrupting…stay still & listen) & 3. Require a verbal and physical response (“Yes, mom.”).

Read the rest at The M.O.M. Initiative where this post is published today. Would appreciate your coming by there and adding your thoughts to the mix.

By His grace, LauraLee

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Continue…

In keeping with my personal tradition to choose a passage of Scripture each year instead of making a resolution, I’m thankful the Lord finally landed me on one.

I don’t completely understand why I get stuck in spiritually dry desert seasons, but I’ve been in one for many months now. I do know the Bible says they will come and that God can accomplish much through it for His glory. I’ve been asking the Lord to help me grow as long as I’m here or to lead me out into the land of the living and thriving soon. I trust Him to know what I need.

He’s reminding me to continue in the faith no matter my season, remembering that staying rooted in Him is His desire for my life. It’s simple. But it’s not easy. I’m prone to looking away, wandering to comfort and empty pleasures, only to wonder how I got there without noticing. Stuns me every time.

The Lord has seen fit to put many demands on me emotionally and spiritually, even while I thirst. He’s not leaving me to do it on my own, however, and these verses will provide direction and strength as they’re put before me to meditate on, pray over and delve into.

colossians 2_6 7

So as I continue, He’s given me great hope and encouragement for today and for 2014. I pray no matter where you are on your spiritual journey, that His Truth will continue to strengthen and sanctify you through and through, by His grace and for His glory.

*Image purchased from dreamstime.com, edited on picmonkey

By His grace, LauraLee

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Drawin’ A Blank…at the Internet Cafe

When I go before the Lord with an empty heart, He pens a personal message on it, a unique one just for me. While He is powerful and full of splendor and majesty, He is also personal. He longs to give me His special encouragement and leading for my life…

Read the rest here: http://internetcafedevotions.com/2013/11/drawin-a-blank/

By His grace, LauraLee

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When Mercy Meets Mean

Early this am I had such a meaningful time in the Word & was brought low and overjoyed at the same time. Then in a New York minute, two short and ugly confrontations happened back to back that made me feel as though I’d been punched in the gut.

After a few minutes of tears, I asked the Lord to enable me to put into practice what I’d read earlier.

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also…Give to everyone who asks of you, & whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” Lk 6:27-32

This needs to be taken in context. The beatitudes are all about the state of our hearts, the object of our focus, the attitude of our minds. So of course this won’t be lived out the same when you’re abused by a spouse or relative. And it doesn’t mean we’re to enable others to be consistently irresponsible or lazy or mean. Those are other topics that need deeper digging and wise counsel.

When I’m brought low by others in the everyday…demeaned, disrespected & dishonored, will I depend on the Lord for everything I need? Maybe I’ll need strength to forgive. Maybe I need to examine my own attitudes of entitlement or ease. Perhaps I’ll need courage to confront or set a boundary that will cause conflict. In my case this morning, I needed to allow the Lord to put into practice what I’d received comfort from an hour earlier. I’d had the right motives and spoken with grace, only to be accused and sneered at, not once but twice! Man, that hurt my feelings! The angry name calling that began under my breath needed to be replaced by God’s mercy & met with immediate prayers instead.

I share this because I needed to pen it. And I know this Truth is relevant for all of us in our everydays. May we all be strengthened in our inner being today, by His grace and for His glory.

By His grace, LauraLee

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Posted in burdens, Christian walk, difficult people, everyday moments, faith-filled living, forgiveness, God-strength, God's Word, humility, personal, prayer, relationships, spiritual maturity, stress, testimony, weaknesses | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dueling Duo

This is rare for me, but I was cleaning up some old files and came across some short fiction stories I wrote some years back for Faithwriters.com. Thought I would publish one here since it has a practical faith-filled message. And seeing as I have some writer’s block right now, why not? I hope you enjoy, that it prickles and tickles, and that you’ll pass it on to those inspirational story lovers out there.

 Dueling Duo by LauraLee Shaw

Jan jerked the slippery strap of her purse back onto her shoulder for the umpteenth time. She could feel her frustration rising with each strained step.

“I SO do not need this today,” she grumbled. “Stupid school. This’d better be important.”

She whiffed her overgrown bangs from her face as she approached her son’s fifth grade classroom. Opening the door, her purse slid down to her wrist yet again. She grumbled and then looked up to see that Mrs. Kern was not alone.

“Helen?” Jan grimaced at the sight of her mother-in-law sitting in front of Mrs. Kern’s desk. Just add to my nightmare.

Helen smirked, looking at her watch. “Yes, Jan, at least one of us was here on time.”

“Well, some of us have a full-time-job,” Jan snipped.

“I had a job, too, remember? It was called Full-Time Mom.”

Mrs. Kern cleared her throat. “Hello, Mrs. Jacobs. The other Mrs. Jacobs and I have already become acquainted.”

Reaching out to shake Mrs. Kern’s hand, Jan was suddenly aware of the pitiful scene her son’s teacher had just witnessed. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Kern. I’m sorry, Helen. I’ve just had a tough day.”

“And I’m sorry, too. That was disrespectful of us to carry on in front of you, Lois.”

Did she just call Mrs. Kern “Lois”? Talk about disrespectful.

“It’s okay.” Mrs. Kern forced a semi-smile on her face and continued. “The reason I called you both in here today is to discuss Justin with you.”

Helen gasped. “Justin’s not in trouble, is he?”

“No,” Mrs. Kern reassured her. “He’s a good kid. But—um—he’s been rather—sad lately.”

“Sad? What on earth makes you think he’s sad?” Helen squawked.

“Helen, just let her talk, for goodness’ sake.”

Mrs. Kern squirmed in her chair. “Well, he hasn’t been participating much, and he’s been doodling and daydreaming during the time that he’s supposed to be learning.”

“You called us here about some doodling and daydreaming?” Jan complained.

“Well,” Helen chastised, “some people would call that a problem.”

Jan deliberately ignored Helen’s remarks. “So, Mrs. Kern, if you don’t mind my asking, why did you choose to involve Justin’s grandmother with this?”

“She obviously doesn’t think his mother will take care of it on her own,” Helen mumbled, tucking her chin in her neck.

Clearing her throat a second time, Mrs. Kern brought out some papers from her top desk drawer. “I want you to see the poem Justin wrote for an English assignment. Since both of you are subjects of the content, I thought it wise to invite both of you to come in and read it. But before I show it to you, I’d like to tell you one more thing: After class on the same day he turned in the poem, Justin asked if he could have it back. Now I had already read it, but he didn’t know that. I thought maybe he was embarrassed and wanted to re-write it. However, when he returned it to me, he had added the last stanza. That last stanza is the reason I asked you here today. Please take your time reading it and discussing what Justin felt compelled to share. Thank you for coming.”

At that, Mrs. Kern handed them a copy of the poem and made a deliberate exit, shutting the door behind her.

Unsettling silence saturated the room as they both read the sheet of paper laid out between them.

Dueling Voices
by Justin H. Jacobs

Mom tucks me in and reads me a story.
Grandma gives me hugs and tells me not to worry.
Mom sings me songs and helps me with my math.
Grandma tells me jokes and always makes me laugh.

But I’m sick of them both just acting like kids!
Don’t they know what it’s like when they blow their lids?
I wonder why they can’t just try to get along.
The Bible says that their attitudes are wrong.

As my teacher, can you please give them both a detention?
Then—maybe then—it will get their attention.
“Gramma, love my mom. She’s your son’s loving wife.”
“Mom, respect Gramma. She’s lived a long, wise life.”

They looked up at each other, stunned.

Helen’s face was as white as a blank sheet of paper. Jan shifted awkwardly in her seat, pinching the temple of her throbbing forehead.

The sound of the school bell shattered their silence.

“Well, well, well,” Helen declared, “I do believe that Mrs. Kern has given us an after-school detention.”

“Yes, Helen—And Justin’s definitely managed to get our attention.”

By His grace, LauraLee

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