Monday, July 11, 2016

Refreshment - Words of Kindness

I stand at the pharmacy counter, curl my toes, breathe deep, and explain again that my son is on our insurance policy. There’s a mix-up with numbers and this happens every time. There’s a line behind me and a son beside me with eyes streaked purple-red.

“The eye drops are three hundred dollars. I don’t see that they’re covered,” the clerk says.

And I snap.

I’m frazzled and frayed and my tone goes sharp. I know it is not the clerk’s fault, but I’ve found the end of my rope.

In this moment, I don’t care.

It’s been a long morning. Waiting on the phone. At the doctor’s office. Now here. I could’ve predicted this problem, too. In the end, I decide it’s best to go home while the pharmacy contacts the insurance company. It means another trip into town, but we leave the store – my scarlet-eyed son and me.

It takes about a quarter of a mile for the conviction to come. I’d been rude. Short-tempered. Sharp. I try to justify my attitude, but it doesn’t settle on my soul. And later in the afternoon, it all makes perfect sense.

My youngest sons and I sit on the back patio. The afternoon sun scorches and my boys have popsicles we’ve made from raspberry lemonade. The popsicles melt fast – quick rivers down their forearms and watercolor drops that hit the red bricks under our feet.

Sweet refreshment.

And as we sit together, the pharmacy scene comes to heart. As we sit, it moves through my mind. Even though my boy still looks like the tough end of a fight, I know I’ve been wrong.

My reaction was sandpaper on the soul.

Far, far from refreshment.

A printed piece by Chuck Swindoll hangs by a magnet on our fridge, and I think of it now. The pink copy paper has faded to pastel. The edges are torn. A preschooler added art work – an army of stick-figure men. But the words are still powerful. The last two lines of “Attitude” flow with my pulse:

“The only thing we can do is play the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” – Chuck Swindoll

Truth. Sweet truth.

 Every tough circumstance offers an opportunity to respond in a way that brings refreshment.

When I go to pick up my son’s meds, I look for the clerk. It’s late and she’s left for the day. But another trip into town brings another opportunity, and one afternoon I see her standing behind the counter. I know what I need to do. The apology brings tears, for her and for me. But she unlatches the gate, moves to the other side of the counter, and wraps her arms around me. We stay for a moment, holding on tight. We’re suddenly stranger-sisters brought together in a moment of real-life, heart-and-soul grace.

When I leave, I know I’ve left behind a trace of Jesus. Today my attitude has bought refreshment to another’s soul.

And because God’s mercy cup simply overflows, her reaction brought refreshment to mine.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Livin' Verbs

I have a friend who is facing a tough time. She's known the circumstance could occur. The possibility of struggle has been hanging in the shadows. But now there's no more shadow-lurking. She'll need to press through.

And the enemy whispers lies.

She and I stand in church, talking fast, voices low, opening the tender places of our hearts.

"I'm scared," she says, and then she shares the fear - the whispers that come from the one who wants to steal, kill and destroy.

"I'm praying verbs for you," I say. "When the Lord tells us how to deal with the enemy, He gives us verbs. Submit to Him. Then stand. Resist. And flee. When we submit, stand, and resist, the next verb belongs to the enemy. He has to flee."

My friend smiles. She know what I'm saying. Maybe she hasn't thought of it this way, but she's been praying verbs for me, too.

I think it's something we all can relate to. We have struggles. God doesn't tell us that we won't. And often in the struggle, we have an enemy.

He speaks lies and I've heard the whispers.

Things aren't going to get better. A good mother wouldn't have your kind of issues with her kids. You work so hard and look - your kids are surly, your house is a mess, sometimes there's more smack talk  under your roof than you can shake a stick at. May as well throw up your hands and let it all be.


And the best thing I can do is to pull out the verbs.

Submit. Stand. Resist.

And because I stand on the resurrection side of the cross, the enemy has to flee.

My friend and I are separated for a  moment by a wave of children and mothers. We start a few new strands of conversations. Give a few hugs. Speak fragmented sentences. And when the wave recedes, we find one another again.

"I'm praying for you," I say.

She looks at me, and I know her next words will be true.

"I'm praying for you, too. Verbs."

And we're both going to be okay.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you. James 4:7

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. I Peter 5:8