Week 46: Gentleness

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He came into my life at the beginning of the most tumultuous moment I’ve ever experienced.  Baby Girl was off to college, albeit not far away.   Boomerang Child had moved out, yet again.  Husband was spending more and more time at work, in Houston.  I was by myself. And then The Boyfriend brought THEM!  (Baby Girl’s boyfriend—not mine)  Three tiny, wormy boy puppies that he thought were dachshunds—because he knew I have a soft heart for weenie dogs. Baby Girl named the chunky one with a Mohawk—Brody.  It fit, so it stuck.

A few months later we had to sell the house and move.  I was down to three dogs—Ancient Dachshund, Charley, and Brody–and prayed for wisdom for what to do about it.  Without going into details that still leave me in tears, let me just say, all that’s left of all those particular animals is Brody—who in my boredom I named “Brody the Magnificent.”

Brody is not only an old soul; he is a gentle one.  Husband says that’s why I love him so.  Brody, not Husband.  Maybe he’s right. But seriously, the only time you even know Brody is in the house is when he wants to go out of the house.  He sits as close to me all day every day as Babs, Boomerang Child’s doxie we are caring for because she chews Jimmy Choos, will allow.  Babs is very demanding and wants all my attention.  When Brody wants to be pet, he gently pats my “paw” with his.  Over and over.  And over.  When he wants to play, he softly snaps at my nose as if he will gently tear it from my face.  He never barked until Babs moved in, so now he barks at the school bus, the mail man, the FedEx man, the yard sprayer, geese flying over, and Husband home from work.  As I’m writing this, though, Babs is under the covers on my bed, giving it her distinctive doxie Frito smell, and Brody is lying on a chair in front of our pretend fireplace.  He thinks it’s getting him warm.

Why do I belabor the wonderfulness of Brody the Magnificent?  Because, to me, he embodies this week’s Fruit of the Spirit—Gentleness.  He never bothers you unless he wants to sit by you or there’s no food or water in his bowls.  He just is.  He’s not slow.  He’s not a coward.  He is gentle!  And yes, that’ probably why I love him so.

I don’t think I’ve ever known an actual person who is as gentle as Brody the Magnificent, and if I did, he or she was very old, or maybe comatose.  What can we, as seekers of FOS (Fruits of the Spirit), learn from this?  Maybe to just be. Always be there when someone is homesick. Be compassionate when you think someone is crazy. Be quiet when the mailman comes to your door.  To be Gentle might mean to just be.

Week 45: Faithfulness

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This week’s Fruit of the Spirit is Faithfulness–devotion, loyalty, worthiness of trust. This is a huge deal girls! We are talking faithfulness to family and spouses, at work, and especially to God. God is faithful to us, and we owe Him no less!

Families and spouses can really test our faithfulness, can’t they? Children sometimes do their best to divide our loyalty between them and our spouse. And sometimes, you just have a hard time deciding if the children are actually wrong or your spouse is! On one hand, you want to support your spouse in his dealings with your children, but on the other, sometimes he gets way too angry way too quickly! The struggle is real people!

We challenge each other’s faithfulness because we are human. We have feet of clay. To whom is it hardest for you to be faithful to? Your spouse? Your children? God? Or all of the above?

Week 44: Goodness

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The definition of Goodness is a bit cloudy to me, so when I looked it up in the concordance of my Bible, the definition was “kind, profitable, excellent, fitting or appropriate, morally right”. Hmm! Goodness covers a whole multitude of things, doesn’t it? For the purposes of this discussion, I’m choosing the last definition: morally right.

What I know is that when I’m gone, people WON’T think that about me! Some of them may say I was a good teacher or a good cookie baker. But they won’t be able to say that I was just GOOD! I wish, but no! Another think I do know is that every day is a new day to try and BE GOOD!

Another day to not break the law–even the driving laws. Another day to not steal–even a Coke from an unguarded refrigerator. Another day not to cheat–even looking at someone other than your significant other. Another day not to repeat a tasteless joke–even if it is really funny!

Many people have very busy, hurried lives and don’t take time to listen to their Goodness Meter. They just bust up and do something they shouldn’t and pay for it later. Are you one of those people? Do you need to work on being excellent and morally right? I know I do!

Week 43: Kindness

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{Be kind to one another, tenderhearted and forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you. –Ephesians 4:32}

I learned this verse in Mrs. Mary Grace Scott’s Sunday School class: be ye kind one to another…

We must have said it a thousand times because it’s stuck with me for 51 years!

This world is so far away from the one in which I grew up! The nightly news is full of the world’s evil while acts of kindness are told about in the “Special Interest” segments.

As Christians, shouldn’t we just be kind? Should kindness be something people equate to Christians? I mean, Galatians 5:22-25 lists kindness as one of the Fruits of the Spirit–something the Holy Spirit will give us freely if we ask.

I think I’ll ask myself how I can be kind today. Maybe if I really think about kindness–every single day–it will become more like a second nature to me. Random acts of kindness? Sweet, loving, sincerely kind words? Gentle touches or hugs (that aren’t too creepy)? A genuine smile to a stranger on the street?

Being fruitful–in a spiritual way–begins with KINDESS! Find your kindness and give it all day long! KINDNESS–it’s not just for little kids in Sunday school!!

Week 42: Patience

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It’s a quality almost everyone would love to have, but not every finds: Patience. Patience with your family, coworkers, other drivers or shoppers–our patience is challenged nearly every minute of the day.

Patience was not my long suit when I first began teaching thirty years ago, nor when I first became a parent over twenty-five years ago. I really never even noticed that I wasn’t patient, but Someone must have, because over the years, it was a quality I finally achieved–but not alone.

I believe patience is something we have to ask God for every day. The last few years I spent in the classroom, I found that I almost had to ask for it hour by hour. But towards the end, I found that a morning prayer walk asking God for patience, kindness and love helped me more than anything I ever did. Did I get angry? Yes. Were my feelings ever hurt? More than once. But it was definitely something directly from God that got me through MOST days without entering into a screaming match with a 7th or 8th grader.

The thing is, patience is not something I can do on my own; it’s not something I naturally have. For me, it’s got to come from God.

Week 41: Peace

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When I was newlywed, the town where my husband and I lived had a horrific tornado. It started a few miles west of town and ended a few more miles east of town. As the crow flies, it was about a mile behind my house when it blew through. That, my loved ones, was too close for comfort! That was as afraid as I had ever been at that point in my life.

Little did I know that one day I’d live smack dab in the middle of Tornado Alley. Some way or other, I was going to have to find my big girl panties, and put them on! In other words, I was going to have find peace somewhere because one just can’t go around being afraid of the weather all the time!

These days, the Lord has given me a measure of peace that I’ve never had before concerning the weather. (Of course, it doesn’t hurt that in the few years we’ve lived in Oklahoma, I’ve never had to use my storm cellar. My husband did once, but I wasn’t home at the time.) The point is, I trust the guys on Channel 9 to keep me informed and me safe. (On the 8th Day, God created weather men!)

As a child, I was afraid of many things. (The dark, the town fire siren, thunder, the house burning down with me in it, the space heater in the hall of my house, and the Wizard of Oz were just a few). I’ve fortunately outgrown most of those fears, although I still sort of freeze when I hear the Saturday tornado siren or a fire truck headed my way. Anyways, it feels good to feel peace about those fears at last!

Week 40: Joy

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{If you obey my commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.–John 15:10-11}

Why does Joy have to be so elusive? From Black Friday until December 24, we run, run, run trying to find it! Or, more accurately, BUY it! but if that’s where we find Joy, then why on December 26, are we always so let down? And it’s even worse in January when we receive those lovely Visa bills in the mail! This is something I’ve personally struggled with–especially in the last few years, and not just around Christmas. I’d let the enemy rob me of my Joy because I’m not where I’ve always been and where I thought I’d still want to be.

So where do we find our Joy now? Now that we are grown up and don’t find it so munch in telling the devil he can sit on a tack. Maybe we’re looking for counterfeit Joy. Maybe Joy isn’t all about that giggly, silly, giddy feeling that we think it is. Maybe that silliness is something else. In John 15:10-11, Jesus found His Joy in obeying His Father. I’ve been reminded several times lately that Jesus was fully God and fully man. This means He felt all our emotions – He just didn’t sin. He laughed, He cried, He hurt, He obeyed. And obeying meant dying. He left His seat beside His Daddy and came down to the world we’d ruined. He left everything to obey! And despite the earthly sorrows He felt, He said He found Joy in doing for others what His Father sent Him to do. Wow! God never asks us to that much! Our obedience, which Jesus says will lead us to Joy, is not nearly as hard as what Jesus had to do for us.

We won’t find Joy in a box; we’ll find it in loving one another, even people we don’t want to love-so maybe it is kind of hard to do. Jesus found it in dying for us because He loved us. Us. Me.