Learning–the Hard Way–to Be a Blessing

grace quote with flowers in the backgroundI don’t like failing–at anything. But I especially hate when my failure hurts someone else. Unfortunately, there’ve been numerous times when I’ve sensed God asking me to do something–to say something or reach out to someone–but didn’t. There have been even more times when I’ve felt a prick in my heart cautioning me not to act, but my pride propelled me forward anyway.

Praise God for His grace that can turn every failure into a growth opportunity and ultimately, a win. Today my guest, Kass Fogle, shares a time when she found this to be true and what God taught her through that situation.

Learning–the Hard Way–How to Love Others Well

By Kass Fogle

The most self-absorbed person I know is writing this blog. Though I pray against my selfishness regularly, most of my plans revolve around me.

And every day, God’s love and mercy convicts me and reminds me to follow the example of Jesus. Christ surrendered His place with God and, fully obedient, he humbled himself to put the needs of others first.

Though I’ve learned to stop and pay attention to this lesson, it wasn’t always this way.

I missed a friendship opportunity with a friend from high school who was hurting deeply. She lost two daughters in a tragic car accident and reached out to me via social media. While we communicated back and forth a few times, we never connected in person. Though she was only three hours away, I didn’t get an address so I could visit. I didn’t grab a phone number for a quick call of encouragement.

Instead, I listened to the lies filling my head: “You can’t explain this. You can’t help. She has other friends who live closer.”

And I also heard another other voice whisper, “You don’t have to explain. You have to love. She needs you.”

If my heart ached in disappointment for listening to the louder voice, it shattered over my disobedience to God.

Because I’m accountable for which voice I listen to and believe. And instead of swimming in the vortex of shame, I’m choosing to obey my Father.quote pulled from post with image of two friends together

Though I take responsibility for my failures, I believe God will use them for the glory of His kingdom. With the example above, He chose to use my poor decisions as a friend to teach me how to better care for others. And not just in a ‘coffeehouse-pay-it-forward” way, but in a Holy Spirit inspired “I can’t wait to share it” way.

Through this, I learned how to better care for others:

  1. Loyalty First – “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Prov. 17:17, ESV). I have a group of unquestionably faithful girlfriends. But sometimes we’re called to show loyalty to those outside our “inner circle”. We can show the same type of care to those we’re closest to and those we aren’t. In those situations, it’s all about obedience.

Not good with words? Come bearing gifts – a coffee cup, a pretty pen, a bracelet, or a snuggly pillow – anything you think will bring comfort.

Not good with words in times of suffering? Try: “You matter.” “Would you like for me to pray with you now or in private at home?” “I’d like to come over and sit with you for a while.”

  1. Transform Your Mind – Sometimes we don’t help others because we think their values, traditions, or social networks are too different from ours. But I suggest we pay close attention to people who pop into our lives repeatedly. Most likely, they’re there for a reason. We can call them by name and ask God how he wants us to engage with them. Who knows? Maybe they’re there to bless or grow us.

While we need to recognize if someone is not meant to be in our life, we can also pray that God removes our judgmental tendencies so we can become open to the gift of friendship God has in store for us.

Remember friends, we don’t bless others so we’ll be blessed, we bless because He first loved us.

We’ve been saved by the power of the holy spirit, through the blood of the Son, and the grace and mercy of our Father, so our hearts are prepared to best share the blessing with others.

Just for reading today, you can get a free journal page by clicking on Friendship With a Purpose –While you’re there, check out the other freebies!

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Let’s talk about this! When has a past failure taught you how to better show grace? Do you have anything else you’d add to how we can love our friends well? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

Get to know Kass!

 

Kass Fogle's author photoKass Fogle is a Contemporary Christian Author, Speaker and Blogger who lives with her husband and two children in South-Central Illinois. Her first novel, Ruth’s Garden placed third for Contemporary Christian Fiction at the Write to Publish Conference in 2018.

Her new website, THE INTROVERTED BELIEVER will launch in late 2018 and will focus on encouraging fellow introverts in their work, marriage and friendships. Be sure and subscribe to her website kassfogle.com to stay up to date on the launch progress.

When she is not working the day job you can find her at the local coffee house writing, at home baking, hanging out with family or causing trouble with her tight-knit group of girlfriends. Kass is also a raging Football Mom.

Follow her on Twitter @kassfogle, find her on Pinterest, and connect with her on Facebook .

She invites you to email her a prayer or other request at kassfogle(at)gmail(dot)com.

Before you go! I encourage you to read my thoughts on finding the courage to obey when others deem our actions foolish. You can read that HERE. And mommas of little ones, you may find my post on MOPS International encouraging. You can read that HERE.

 

If You Make it Through This Post, You’re in the Top One Percent

ID-100264082They say, actually, I’ve said, blog titles matter. A lot. Most of you–like 89.7% of you, decided whether or not to read this post by my title alone.  I have a feeling this is doubly true for my subscribers. Fail. (Actually, I’m wondering if any of y’all are receiving my posts in your inbox because my hubby’s signed up but hasn’t.) Another 5% of you, well, of them because clearly if you’re still reading, you’re in the top 5.3%. … Or is that the bottom? Regardless, unlike that other 5%, you have not checked out after this long and rambling paragraph. And for that I applaud you. (Or pity you.)

But it’s the holidays, and my brain is saturated by a bit too much junk and random storylines (only one of them being my own.) Plus, I just learned from two sweet blogging friends, Renee Blare and Eileen Rife, that I’ve been nominated for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers award.

How fun is that? I’m normally pretty bad about those types of things because well… I can be technologically lazy. But this one intrigued me, and like I said, I’m in a jing-jingaly (AKA goofy, adventurous mood), and I thought some of you might be interested in a pre-2015 update. (Is that a thing?)

Oh, but first, fun news! Book reviewer Julie Arduini chose my debut, Beyond I Do as her favorite fiction read for 2014. 🙂 You can read her review here. Here’s hoping she WhenDawnBreakspreliminary(and all of you) likes When Dawn Breaks even more! And if you’re up and looking for an encouraging message to motivate you toward spiritual greatness this New Year’s, visit Cynthia Simmons Heart of the Matter online show to listen to our discussion of surrendering our giftedness into God’s hands, enduring the often painful growth process, and allowing Him to use you and your uniqueness to minister to others and build His kingdom. You can listen live at 9:30 EST here, and I should have a link to the archive soon.

Now for the blog award. Having accepted, here are the rules I now must follow:

The Rules:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Put the award logo on your blog.
3. Answer the 10 questions they’ve sent you.
4. Make up 10 new questions for your nominees to answer.

So, here’s the questions Renee posed. I’ll post and answer Eileen’s after. (For those of you really up for massive amounts of Jennifer-randomness. ha!) Come back Saturday or Monday (I’m not sure when I’ll post yet) for a regularly scheduled yet rescheduled blog post. 🙂

1. How is your blog different today versus the day it began?

You know, I think it’s pretty much the same–Christian living based, mainly testimonial in style. I do have a lot more guests now than I did initially, and I love that. I feel that makes it more well-rounded. After all, we need each other. We all have unique insights into spiritual matters, unique experiences and unique yet universal challenges. 🙂 (Come back… uh… next time (maybe Saturday?) to read a great post from Stephanie Prichard on forgiveness. (Perfect timing post the holidays, maybe?)

2. If you could do anything in the world, what would it be?

Easy! Spur every Christian to live out what they believe. Can you imagine what our world would be like–how many hungry would be filled and hurting would be healed if we all got off the church pew and started BigLivetangibly showing the love of Christ? I’m seeing this happen more and more at my church, and it’s awesome. Truly beautiful. Life changing, like truly. We see life change every day.

3. Who or what would be your ultimate post?

Oh, this is hard, but if I could somehow write one succinct, clear, and powerful post on surrender that stuck with my readers, truly stuck with them, I think my answer to question 2 would happen naturally. Now, if I could find and maintain a position of surrender myself…

4. In 2015, what are your plans?

Oh, my, I have a lot! Were you wanting a novel answer, Renee? 😉 First, I’m working on an exciting fundraising project for Takin it to the Streets, an Omaha Metro ministry I serve with. I also have two books releasing this year (one that has already released, When Dawn Breaks, and the other that is scheduled to release in October). So, I’ll have edits and such to complete. I’m also working on a new story, one I recently realized I need to majorly gut and start over on, but that’s a good thing. A great thing, because I know the changes will be awesome. Necessary. I’m going to the Mt. Hermon conference in Northern California this year and hope to meet my editor in person. Yay! Then my loves will meet me in San Jose and we’ll head south to San Diego. Then in September my hubby and I will celebrate our 20th in Seattle, where my 4th novel (scheduled to release in winter of 2016) is set. Busy but exciting year. 🙂

5. Do you have a favorite day of the year?

ID-100298323The one I’m in? haha. You know, when we first moved to the midwest, I hated winter. But a few years in, I’ve found I love every season. Though I probably love fall most. The colors, scents, flavors, activities. Valas Pumpkin Patch, Nebraska City with its beautiful, vibrant foliage.

Oh! Do you mean day-day? That’s Easter, hands down. My life would be devastatingly different if not for Christ’s death and resurrection.

6. Why and how did you start blogging?

I’m not entirely sure. I’ve often wondered if it’s just part of the writer’s brain, as if we need to someone include the ENTIRE WORLD in everything we think and do. It’s like I’ll be reading a Bible passage and God will speak to me through it, and I’ll think, “Oh! I need to write about this!” Or I’ll be having a fun day with friends and will absolutely have to chase down a random stranger to cajole into taking our picture so I can post it here. Or on Facebook. Most likely both. As to how, I just started. This blog is hosted by WordPress, and they make it pretty easy.

7. What do you like about blogging?

It gives me an outlet to share the 5,000 conversations zipping through my brain every day. 🙂 It also makes me feel more connected to my readers, well, when they converse back. 🙂

8. What have you discovered through blogging?

That God is amazing. Faithful. Loving. Gentle. Attentive.

9. Who or what is the one thing that means the most to you?

One thing? I’d have to say Christ, but can I add two more? My hubby and princess. Love them both to pieces. 2012-06-23 22.29.50

10. What do you want the readers of your blog to know about you?

That I have been dramatically changed by grace, and that that same grace is available to them. 🙂 Really, I hope they know less about me and more about Christ in me. Because truly, I’m a let down. But knowing Christ on an intimate level? Now that’s life abundant!

Now, for the 1.5% of you who have made it this far, you really deserve a cookie or something. Well, now, isn’t that a great idea! If you’ve made it this far, let me know in the comments what one thing you’d like me or perhaps others to know about you, and you’ll get entered to win a copy of my latest release, When Dawn Breaks. 🙂 Considering everyone else has long since closed out this window, you stand a great chance of winning. 🙂

Now for Eileen’s questions. 

1. What is your foremost prayer in this new year?
I’m not sure if it will remain my top prayer, but this morning I wrote down Psalm 105:1-4 as my first memory passage and have determined to make it a prayer. (I love personalizing and praying Scripture!) The verse is: Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
    Let the whole world know what he has done.
Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.
    Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
Exult in his holy name;
    rejoice, you who worship the Lord.
ID-10075996Search for the Lord and for his strength;
    continually seek him.
I could expand on and camp out on each line indefinitely, but I really love verse four–search for the Lord and for His strength; continually seek Him. Each day, I long to do just that, asking the Holy Spirit to help me.
2. Name three goals that you’d like to shoot for.
To consistently memorize Scripture, to draw near to God at regular intervals throughout the day, and to follow a prayerfully planned schedule each day.
3. What is your current writing project?
I’m working on a sequel to Beyond I Do. Here’s the blurb:Sixty-one year old Angela Meadows is ready for a clean slate, to launch a career, and to embrace her new life in Christ. But self-loathing and remorse for a life forever lost hold her back. When she encounters a single mom married to an incarcerated felon and her children, Angela’s shame becomes swallowed by something greater—compassion. Her past draws her to them, but will it drive away the only man she’s truly loved?

4. What do you enjoy doing for fun?
Spending time with my hubby, daughter, or amazing friends. And if I can get them all in the same room, it’s even better!
5. Other than the Bible, name the book that’s had the most impact on your life and why.
thProbably Living Proof: Sharing the Gospel Naturally. It’s really helped me understand nonbelievers more, has greatly shaped my evangelism efforts, and has had a tremendous impact on how I do ministry. It’s a phenomenal book!
6. What will you do in this new year to reach out to someone else other than your family?
Oh, my, this could be a long list. 🙂 I serve in numerous ministries, so I have plenty of opportunities to share the love of Christ. Our church does a great job of facilitating events designed to get our church family off their pews and out into the community. Our next one will be an epic Easter celebration. 🙂 In addition, I’m part of a women’s connection leadership team that plans monthly events designed to facilitate closer friendships, spiritual growth, and to help each of us reach out to nonattenders. (You can read more about some of our events here.)
7. Explain why you like to write.
Writing is and has always been how I process my thoughts and feelings and dig deeper into learned truths. That God could use something He’s used to grow me for years to grow others is simply amazing.
8. What legacy do you hope to leave behind when you die?
The hope of Christ.
9. Do you consider the local church important? Why or why not?
Oh, my, yes! God has placed us in a local body for a reason, and that is to be interdependent. Our gifts can build others up, and theirs can do the same for us. The local church is also God’s action plan for bringing the world to Christ. So yeah, the local body is a big deal.
10. How can women who feel alone overcome isolation?
Hm… I know the pat answer–draw near to Christ, but even so, we all need human connection. It’s how we were created. Sometimes God places us in a period of isolation for our growth, but most times, I believe He longs to see us in deep and authentic community. I think getting connected with a local body, focusing on the needs of others, and finding ways to get plugged in (most often through serving) are great ways to form authentic, healthy connections.
So now for my questions…
1. What is the best thing that happened to you in 2014?
2. What is one thing you’d like to do differently in 2015?
3. What is one thing you learned in 2014?
4. In what ways do you grow your most important relationships?
5. What one verse has stood out to you most in the past year?
6. In what ways did you see Christ this past year?
7. In what ways did you try to reveal Christ this past year?
8. Has God given you a word to focus on for 2015?
9. How has your view of grace changed this past year and why?
10. If you could be known for one thing, what would that be?
I nominate my Writing Buddies: Carole Towriss, Marji Lane Clubine, Joanne Sher, Mary Watson Hamilton, Ginger Murphey Solomon, and Lillian Kohler.

Taking Hold of My Marbles!

Do you remember those nights when you bolted awake at every sniffle, whimper, or rustling sound your baby made?

The days when you wished naptimes were just a wee bit longer?naptime

When you wondered if you’d ever be able to spend five minutes alone, eat a meal uninterrupted, or get out of the house without five to ten potty breaks taken between the time you say, “Let’s go!” to the zip of a coat?

I do. And once the chaos calmed, I remeber wishing someone had told me those sleepless nights wouldn’t last forever. That there would be days when our house would be insanely, hauntingly quiet.

That our baby would grow up, grow independent, and the tables would flip.

No longer would she be following me around with arms raised, “Momma, hold me!”

Now I’m the one following her around, “Want to talk? How was your day? Can we…?”

My husband and I have less than two years before our princess launches into adulthood, moves away, and our relationship is relegated to phone calls, random texts, and the occasional family vacation.

In essence, we’re losing our marbles. This morning a dear friend and longtime mentor, SandyT, forwarded me the following: “Savor the Season

The words she sent reiterated a message God continues to pour into my heart, reminding me to make the most of the time I’ve been given, because it won’t last.

A couple of Sundays ago, our church played a video illustrating this truth. You can watch it here:

Playing For Keeps from Orange on Vimeo.

So, what will Steve and I do, to make the most of the marbles we have left?

We’ve decided to engage. To take the time and energy to schedule fun and silliness into our week. Yes, I said schedule, because if we don’t get intentional about how we use our time, it’ll get away from us.

girlscookingThis past Tuesday, I spent a few marbles for a girls night in. My house wasn’t spotless, the recipes weren’t perfect, and I didn’t have all those fancy cooking gadgets.

I had proposals and articles to write, ministry stuff to take care of, and laundry piling on the bed.

But I also had a kitchen, some random ingredients, and some special people to enjoy.

I suppose I could’ve allowed all those “didn’t/wasn’ts” to hinder my plans. But I chose not to.

Because I’ve only got so many marbles, and once they’re gone, well…

So I carved out a few hours and set aside my to-do list (as did my guests).

We made truffles and mini-cheesecakes, following recipes some, improvising girlssmooshingmore.

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There were lots of giggles and story-sharing.

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And a small chocolate battle. (Which I won!)Ashchoco

It took some planning, some preparing, and carving out a few hours of our evenings. But the pay-off was well worth it!

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! Don’t lose your marbles, my friend! You’ve only got so many! And each one is a gift from God. How will you use the marbles you’ve been given? What are two things you plan to do this holiday season to make a memory? (Please note, if you do not have family nearby, you can still create a fun memory! Invite someone over for a baking or hot cocoa sipping day, or pop by a friend’s house with a Tim Hawkins’ video. 😉 )

Join the conversation here, in the comments below, or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

You’re Not Alone by William Ramirez

I’m a loner by nature. Give me a task and leave me alone, and I’m good to go. I am learning, slowly, of my need to rely on others, to work in community. I loved William’s devo because it spoke to the Lone Ranger in me, and reminded me that I was never meant to go it alone. As you read today’s devo, ask God to reveal your “Lone Ranger” tendencies. Then, ask Him to show you who He’s already prepared to walk beside you. Chances are, that brother or sister in Christ is already on their way to meet you. I am reminded of what God said to Moses in Exodus 4:14 “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you.”

Aaron was already on his way. Love that! William’s devo first appeared on Rejoice Evermore on December 1, 2010.

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Sometimes God calls us to stand alone, but even then we are not alone. Elijah thought he was the only one taking a stand for the Lord and he found out later on there were 700 others who were faithfully following the Lord.

In my Bible reading right now, I’m in Numbers. In Chapter 2 and 3 of Numbers, the Lord outlines the places where each tribe was to march and camp, as well as the various duties of the Levites in assisting Aaron. It’s not exactly an exciting read, but one thing stood out to me as I went through it the last few days. Each tribe or family had distinct tasks God gave them to do, yet no one did those tasks alone. While Judah’s standard led the march and was the symbol which stood high in the east side of Israel’s camp, it was not Judah alone that did so. They were joined by Issachar and Zebulun. Even though Aaron and his sons led in the ministry of the Tabernacle, each of the three families of Levi were responsible for making the ministry work properly.

In our walk with the Lord and however we might be called to serve Him, the Lord didn’t design us to be alone. I am so grateful for the friends that God has placed into my life who love me, challenge me, rebuke me, cry with me, and comfort me. And ultimately, I am thankful for my Jesus, the friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).

Have you thanked the Lord lately for the friends God has brought into your life and for the friendship of His own dear Son?

William Ramirez lives in Central Florida with his beautiful bride Beverly and four wonderful children. He’s been the senior pastor at Calvary Chapel Lighthouse in Longwood, FL for the last 14 years. He also enjoys writing, both fiction and non-fiction, that encourages believers in their walk with Jesus.

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As always, if you loved, loved, loved today’s devo, “like” it, fb share it, tweet it, or leave a comment and at the end of the month, I’ll tally everything up and post the top three devos of 2010!