What to do When the Gossip is about You.

mean girls

We’ve all been there. Maybe you walk up to a group and the conversation comes to a halt, and you can’t help but wonder if you were the topic. Maybe a friend accidentally tweeted a complaint about you that was supposed to be a private text to another! (This really happened to a friend of mine!) Or maybe it was more subtle, and you learned through a mutual friend that your name had come up in conversation more than once, and it wasn’t flattering.

It hurts. It seems unfair. You wonder who else they have had these conversations with. You wish you had been there to defend yourself. But the truth is that you can’t always be there, and you won’t always find out. I guarantee that there are more people talking about you then you realize, and it can be hurtful.

It makes me feel uncomfortable to think about people spreading ill conceived ideas of me to any willing listener. I want their audience to know me for me. I hate to be misunderstood. And then I realize why it’s really bothering me.

It’s all true.

Whatever you have heard about me…. it’s probably true. Have you heard that I am selfish? I am. Have you heard that I am thoughtless? Guilty. Have you heard that I am lazy? Bingo. I can be and have been all of these things at different parts of my life, and I am not talking about my days before Christ. I am talking about this morning. Why am I so afraid that people will think badly of me? And more importantly, why do I think it’s inaccurate if they do? Maybe I should be more concerned when people think well of me, because that is the real inaccuracy! There is no goodness in me, apart from Christ. And yet in Him is all the righteousness I need. We can spend so much energy wanting to make sure no one misunderstands us.

But was that the example Jesus left? Jesus was constantly misunderstood. Non-stop. Even by those that knew Him best on the Earth.

Can you imagine if He addressed every single person that spoke ill of Him? And He could, because He, unlike me, was sinless. Yet He just kept obeying His Father and loving people. Sure He spoke the truth and called people out, but his typical reaction was just to forgive.

So that is my choice today too.

Relinquishing control of people’s opinions is completely freeing. I will take seriously the verse in Exodus 14:14 that says He will fight for me, and let it be.

But before I let it go entirely, there is one thing I definitely want to do.

Whenever a situation rubs me the wrong way, I strive to look inward. This pain that I am feeling, have I inflicted this on someone else? Is this act that I find so wholly offensive, one of which I am guilty? More often than not, the Lord allows pain into my life so that I can take a look in the mirror and evaluate. Do I talk negatively about people? Even if it’s true, even if I am “venting”? Am I using my hurt feelings as an excuse to talk poorly of someone else? What is the result? There are no victim-less venting sessions. Does this mean we are supposed to bottle things up and never discuss our pain with another? No, of course not. But we need to be wise with whom we share and what we share.
Here are some ideas to think about:
1. If you need counsel on a situation, you can leave out the name of the person about whom you are talking.
2. Talk to a trusted friend who is totally unconnected, someone who doesn’t know and will never know that person.
3. Or on the contrary, talk to someone who does know the situation can actually help you remedy the issue.
4. Be fair. Just trashing the character of someone else to whomever will listen is not profitable for anyone, even if it makes you feel better in the moment. Admit your part in a conflict. Is there any truth to what was said?
5. And most importantly, before you do any of those things, take it to the Lord in prayer. Like really. For a while. Work it out with the Lord. You can say whatever you want to Him! He actually knows the truth about all parties involved!

And if you are the one listening to someone “vent” about another, take it with a grain of salt. Every time. For the same way that you judge, you will be judged.

Ultimately, I pray that we would take our offenses to the Lord first, let Him care for our hearts and grant us true perspective so that in our weakness He would show Himself strong. Can you imagine if we did that in the church? All of us? Every single person?
Let us take some time with Jesus before reacting in the flesh. What a beautiful picture of unity we could display so that the world would know we are Christians by our love for one another. And remember, His mercies are new every morning….and it’s morning somewhere! Amen.

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What Was Really True – Across the Ocean Blue.

columbus ship
Every homeschooling mom will agree that she gets as much of an education as her child. Never was this more true than last year when my daughter had to do a presentation on Queen Isabella of Spain. What I discovered truly shocked me to my core.

As a 17 year old princess, Isabella was destined to be married off to a fat, old, murderous, drunken ruler. Crying out to God, she prayed all night, and the poor old chap died en route to the wedding! After some time passed, she began corresponding with handsome, young, Prince Ferdinand, and eventually stole away in the middle of the night to marry him without any approval. So this was Queen Isabella: a bit of a renegade that didn’t always follow protocol.

Enter Columbus.
After being denied many times by other countries, he approached Isabella to fund his global endeavors, but alas, she had no money to share. Do you know why? Yeah, I didn’t either. But apparently they were fighting off Muslims (imagine that) who were trying to wipe out the “infidels” in all of Europe. Same story. Different day.

Finally Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand captured the Moorish stronghold freeing up some much needed cash to send Columbus on his mission. And what was the result? Far across the ocean, a nation was birthed, a nation that would be founded on the Christian principles that were quickly being forgotten and forsaken across the pond.

I am not a historian. This is true. I am just a mom studying history and making observations. And this is what I have observed. Since it’s inception, the Muslims have been violently trying to rid the world of “Infidels.”
Without stopping once.
From the beginning.
And still today.
There is absolutely no comparison to the brief period of the crusades, which were actually a desperate attempt to fight off the Muslims, despite what the President says.(Google is your friend) But I digress.
In the midst of multiple countries that were leaving their Judeo-Christian roots behind, not to mention being overtaken by Islam, God picked a flawed man, (Kind of what He always does) to pave a road across the ocean to a new land, to start over.

Currently, most of Europe is post Christian. They have already embraced the secular direction toward which we are headed. It’s almost like God was buying more time by starting a new Christian nation, far across the ocean, where we couldn’t be easily influenced by the fast forming anti-Christian propaganda, and where we would be safer from the constantly conquering Muslims.

It would appear that one of Queen Isabella’s advisers, Louis D Santagel, was somewhat prophetic in his proclamation when he declared that Columbus’ journey “could prove so great a service to God and the exaltation of His church.”

I have the distinct advantage of being forced to study history with my children. And to be honest, if it weren’t for that, I probably wouldn’t be. But as Christians, we truly do not have that option. We cannot just float along with the cultural tide as they re-write history, demonizing our faith, and changing the story line.

As Americans, with greater access to information, we have the amazing opportunity to look across the ocean and see the mess they have made by long ago forsaking a Biblical world view. With that knowledge we must make different choices. While there are debates and differing accounts of what happened with Columbus, this is not why I am writing. I am not even writing to persuade someone of a different belief or philosophy. I am writing to persuade those who actually do agree with me to speak up, to speak with your vote, and to speak with your actions. I am asking you to ask God what you can do that would “prove so great a service to God and the exaltation of His church.” Because every small choice, every bold move, every distinct decision, has eternal effects.

Friday Friend-Day: Introducing My Fighter Friend – Donna

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I will never forget the first time I met Donna.  By the time I got to the park, she and a mutual friend were already serving lunch to their children. Conversation was in full swing and the topic was nice and light- ya know, vaccinations.

Oh brother.  Nothing like a little vaccination conversation to ease your way into a relationship.

Of course I added my two cents, but mostly stayed out of the debate because Donna was nothing if not passionate about her beliefs. As I started to get out my family’s lunch, a park ranger came over to inform us that we were sitting in an area reserved for their day camp.

Whoops, I thought. I guess we will move.

But no, no, no, Donna was not having this.  She quickly pointed out that there was no sign posted stating this area was for camp children only. We were already eating, she continued. Those camp kids would have to eat somewhere else, she passionately explained. Donna had no plans to move, and that was it. I, on the other hand, had already packed up and was ready to find a new table. What’s the big deal? Confront much? No thank you! A little embarrassed, I sat back down and tried to process what had just happened.

That’s when she mentioned she was joining our homeschool group.  Mmm-Kay. This should be interesting.

My next interaction with Donna took place in the classroom. What began as a review game somehow spiraled into another showdown, this time between Donna and the teacher.

The game wasn’t fair.

Her son actually had his hand up first,

He *does* know the answer. He just needs more time.

Whatever the case was, I just kept thinking,

Who is this woman?

Then one day I got my answer. We were at a different park, with a different mutual friend, and a different conversation emerged. As the children played, we moms began to let our hair down, breathe a little, and talk.

Donna expressed feelings of exhaustion from sleep deprivation.

“Are you having trouble sleeping?” I asked innocently.

“Yes,” she answered, “for the last 8 years,” she revealed. She then explained that she had not had a full night of sleep since her 11 year old son developed type one diabetes when he was three. Every few hours throughout the night she has to check Nick’s blood glucose level by pricking his finger, or else he could slip into a coma, never to awaken.

Every night.

Sometimes all night.

She has administered 10’s of thousands of shots to her boy.

With no break from this reality.

And all of a sudden I saw Donna for who she really is. She is a fighter alright. And God made her that way. In His sovereignty, the Creator knew that this child was going to need a mom who would fight for his life every single day. And not only does she fight for his life, but for every child that has type one diabetes. She hikes up to Washington DC every year to fight for millions of dollars towards research for a cure. She conjures up crowds to walk for her son’s life at yearly fundraisers, and she has raised a fighter of a son too! Nick has taken his story, which involves countless needles, constant monitoring of his blood sugar, and a lot of highs and lows, to Washington as one of the Florida representatives to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Children’s Congress to speak with legislators about their experiences with the disease.

Donna is not only a killer homeschool mom,Type 1 diabetes advocate, and philanthropist; she is also an incredibly successful financial planner and loving wife. And she does all of this on about zero sleep. She is incredibly generous and gives incessantly, whether it be her time, her resources, or her talents.

That’s who this woman is.

You see if you are lucky enough to gain Donna as a friend, you will have the most loyal forever friend that you could ever want to have, and she will fight for you, and for your children, and for your children’s children! And I almost missed that chance! Yes, she is intense but not just for intensity’s sake. She was divinely created with a mission in mind. She fights against injustice and longs to be a voice for those that cannot speak for themselves. My friend Donna is not perfect. But that’s actually our greatest commonality. Not only does she accept me with all my weaknesses, she is strong in so many areas I am weak. And I love her for that. I feel like I hit the jackpot, and shudder at the thought of how close I came to writing her off.

Sometimes in life we see only behaviors that can annoy us rather than the reasons behind them. All too often those behaviors can push us to the extent that we say good-bye to the person behind the behavior. The miracle of friendship is being able to see past an idiosyncrasy right into the imago Dei, the image of God in that person. Of course I am not talking about abusive behavior, but rather those little quirks that people are working through and learning how to manage.

There are endless examples in the Bible of Jesus standing up and fighting for those who could not fight for themselves.  He stood up for the adulterous woman who was going to be stoned and the time He fought against the moneychangers in the temple. We remember also that in the Old Testament, the Lord fought for the Israelite people time and time again.

We are given this beautiful reminder in Exodus.

The Lord will fight for you- Exodus 14:14

And ultimately Jesus fought against death, conquering the grave through His resurrection power that those who believe might have eternal life!

I am so glad that God gave me Donna to show me His image in such a powerful way. He is El-Gibhor, the Mighty God. And He will fight for you!