Tag Archives: attitudes

Sandpaper People

Think about the people in your life. Anyone you regularly see, know, and interact with.

 

Now I’m going to ask you something crazy – which of those people gets on your (last) nerve? Who drives you completely crazy without really trying? Who makes your life more difficult or unpleasant with very little effort?

 

Get comfortable having this person in your life, for he/she has been placed there by God. On purpose. For many good reasons.

 

Yes, ouch!

 

I think this is the “thorn” Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 12:7. The person or problem put in Paul’s life to draw him continually back to God. To remind him perpetually of his need for a Savior. To keep him humble as God exalted him publicly. To keep him rooted and grounded in the right places as he preached.

 

And that difficult person you are thinking about is in your life for the same reasons. This person who I lovingly refer to as your sandpaper person.

Sandpaper People.jpg

Why sandpaper?

 

Because God strategically placed him/her in your life to help smooth out the rough edges of your attitudes. Because God is sanding off the hard places in your heart. Because God is refining your character by making you deal with the pressure and friction. Because God is polishing your unhealthy reactions so the grace and glory of God shines through you.

 

Because you won’t develop godly character in calm waters – you know and grow your faith in the turbulent relationships and windy places. You learn to lean on God when the storm overtakes and overwhelms you.

 

And that’s the “gift” of your sandpaper person. He/she is the mirror to the rocky, unsettled, and hard placed in your heart. He/she is the light shining on your dark and dreary attitudes. He/she is the beacon directing you to a closer and better relationship with God in specific areas.

 

Because it is easy to love the lovable person and to be nice to the nice person. But Jesus says in Matthew 5:46 that even unsaved people do this. He calls us as His followers to love people at all times. When they are angry or happy, aggressive or pleasant, wrong or right, difficult or easy going. He says we are to make the effort to see beyond the aggravation to the creation of His love. He says we are to stand still and allow Him to work in us and flow through us to love them – in spite of their behavior, attitude, and reasoning. We are to go the extra mile (Matthew 5:41) and love them despite themselves (Matthew 5:39).

 

But it is hard!

 

Because your sandpaper person brings truth to your life. Your flaws become obvious. Your weaknesses start to glow. Your hurts become unburied. As He shines His love through us to heal us and grow us.

 

Because He wants to work on us so He can work through us. It is part of our journey as Christ followers. It is God’s way of teaching us – to pray, to react differently, to keep calm, to be quiet, to trust Him, to be patient, and to love.

 

So with your sandpaper person, can you do some simple things? Can you say a kind word and compliment? Can you smile and mean it? Can you laugh and be friendly?

 

It is hard, but you are clay in His artist’s hands (Jeremiah 18:6). God is molding you. God is shaping you. God is defining you.

 

And you need to flow with His plans and purposes instead of against them. And if you trust Him completely, He will change you. He will grow you. He will refine you.

 

And as you flow in His grace, you will find yourself loving more readily. Reacting more graciously. Forgiving more readily.

 

And one day you will wake up and realize you don’t need as much sanding anymore. Because you have let righteousness work on your behalf (Matthew 5:6 – Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled). Because you have let God produce compassion and understanding in you (James 1:3-5knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him). Because you have learned to be self-controlled and God guided (James 1:19-2019 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God). Because you have learned there is a different way to hear, think, act, and react (1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it).

 

So allow God to sand you and mold you. It’s painful, but the reward is eternal!

 

Prayer: Loving Father, help me to love the toxic people and live peaceably with the unhappy people in my life. Help me to shine Your glory instead of radiating back their misery. Help me to be better at loving them at all times. Help me to be a beacon of Your love, radiating grace and shining Your life to them. Help me to stay my tongue from causing destruction and pain, and help me to speak out of Your love instead of my will and my flesh. Help me to not hold onto any hurt, any offense, any shame, and any pain. Help me choose instead to forgive and be free to love them fully. Help my heart, the holding pen for my life, be free and open instead of closed off because I choose to harbor bad feelings and hold onto negative emotions. Create in me a clean heart and open spirit seeks Your ways and Your purposes above all else. AMEN!

 

Marie Fremin, 3/13-3/15/16

Great Expectations

Expectation. To state of looking forward or anticipating.

Great Expectations.jpg

We have them for everyone and everything. For others. For ourselves. Even for God. We expect people to behave certain ways based on our experiences with them. We also expect God to behave in certain ways, based on our expectations of our goals.

 

We should always expect God to move on our behalf. He won’t always do it the way we want, in the timing we want, or with the answer we want. But He does always work for us – for our good and His glory.

 

David realized this when he wrote Psalm 62. In Psalm 62:5-7, David proclaims “My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God.”

 

David realized he could always expect God to care about him. To take care of him. To make him the victor, despite the people coming against him. To forgive him, no matter how many mistakes he made. To be with him, no matter which (selfish) way he went.

 

The lame man in Acts 3 also realized it. When he encountered Peter and John going into the temple, he was begging. He didn’t expect anything but a coin or two from them. He definitely didn’t expect what did happen. Peter and John were able to see the lame man as Jesus would, as an opportunity to heal him and set him free of his impairment. So in Acts 3:4, Peter tells him “Look at us”. He’s telling him to connect with them, to stop looking at his shame and disgrace and to look at a new possibility. And the lame man gets it. In Acts 3:5, “he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.” He expected, and God showed up. The man runs and jumps his way into the temple, the man who since birth had been unable to walk.

 

Hannah also realized it. She is a married woman who has borne no children, a shame in her time. Her fellow wife, Peninnah, “provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb” (1 Samuel 1:6), reminding her constantly who the better woman was. But Hannah loved God, and Hannah expected God to love her. Through her tears in the temple, she begged God to give her a son, which she vowed to then return to His service. She expected, and she poured out those expectations in prayer. And God met her at her expectations and gave her Samuel, a great prophet of Israel.

 

God always meets us at our expectations.

 

So what are you really expecting from God?

Do you expect Him to disappoint you?

Do you expect Him to answer every prayer with a “yes”?

Do you expect Him to move immediately on your behalf?

 

Or do you expect Him to give you His best?

Do you expect Him to answer your prayers to guide you to His best?

Do you expect him to take the time needed to prepare you for His best?

 

So ask yourself – what am I expecting from God? Then ask yourself – is it realistic?

 

God can adjust your expectations to His purposes. God can touch your heart to fill it with Him. You can be in the midst of a trial and expect God to bring good for you (Romans 8:28). You can be in the middle of a storm and expect God to be walking on water toward you (Matthew 14:25). You can have few physical resources and expect God to abundantly provide (Matthew 14:19, 1 Kings 17:16).

 

Matthew 5:6 says “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.” Happy and peaceful are those who expect God to love them and come through for them, for He shall not disappoint.

 

What are you expecting? God will meet you there.

 

Marie Fremin, 1/5-6/16

Philippians 4: A New You

Philippians 4:4-13Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. 10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all things through him who gives me strength.

 

I was thinking about this well-referenced passage, and God showed me it is like a set of stairs.

Philippians 4

One (baby) step leads to the next, until you are truly the new faithful man He has promised in 2 Corinthians 5:17.

 

So what are the steps?

 

A new attitude. Verses 4-5a. An attitude of rejoicing and gentleness.

A new perspective. Verse 5b-6a. Knowing God is with you, so you are never anxious.

A new lifestyle. Verse 6b. Being prayerful and thankful about all things.

A new hope. Verse 7, 9b. Being filled with God’s peace.

A new thought process. Verse 8.   Focusing your thoughts on good, God-filled things.

A new habit. Verse 9a. Doing what you know is right and have been taught.

A new focus. Verse 10. Caring about people and wanting to help (give).

A solid foundation. Verses 11-12. Being content with the blessings (supply) God has given you.

A new life. Verse 13. Being fully confident in God.

Philippians 42

From a new attitude to a new life. It sounds easy, right? If only we could jump from start to finish with one leap or one confession. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to jump from “Hi, God. Nice to meet You” immediately to “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength”?

 

But it’s a adventure of many steps, many lessons, many mistakes, and many retries – as Paul points to in verse 11 (“for I have learned”). It won’t always come easily or quickly. It won’t always go the way we want. It won’t always be a pleasant choice.

 

Because it’s a process. 2 Corinthians 3:18 reminds us that we are “transformed into the same image [of Christ] from glory to glory”. Not from glory to perfection (maturity, completion), but from glory to glory. From lesson to lesson. From revelation to revelation. From truth to truth. From change to change. From freedom to freedom. From habit to habit. Because it is a process that is never instantaneous.

 

That’s why they call it a faith journey. We walk, we detour, we turn around, we backtrack, we get lost, we stumble, we go the wrong way, and we eventually find our way. But along the way God walks with us, guiding us in the right direction and hoping we’ll stick with Him.

 

Each change we make is progress. Each step we take toward God is a step toward something bigger and better than we are. Each step is another step forward in loving how He loves, forgiving as He forgives, and seeing how He sees. Each step is another step away from our fleshly, self-centered desires (Galatians 5:19-21) to replace them with His godly fruit of generosity and compassion (Galatians 5:22-23). Each step grows our faith to the place of utmost confidence in Him, no matter what is happening to, in, and around us.

 

So are you willing to take the first (or next) step? Are you willing to trust Him more than you currently do?

 

It starts with you reaching out to Him right where you are and giving Him all you are – your fears, your faith, your doubts, your belief, your skepticism, your confidence, your shame, your joy, your past, your future, your laughter, your tears, your hesitation, your assurance, your hopelessness, your hope.

 

In exchange, He gives you the ability to walk confidently with Him with hope because you realize He is all about new. Each step of new helps you become a person of great faith. You boldly declare that God is taking care of you and you are choosing His peace. You are thankful for what you have and trust Him to provide what you need (19). You become a person who looks out to help others instead of being focused on self. And your faith in Him cannot be shaken (1).

 

So be bold and take a step. Start – or continue – your journey to a new you.

 

Marie Fremin.  4/6/15, 5/20/15, 12/20/15

Goodbye Letter to my CoWorker

S—–,

I wanted to take this opportunity to share sincerely and with heartfelt honesty the things that are on my heart.

 

I wish you well. Wherever you go, whatever you do, no matter what happens, I hope and pray you will be happy and successful. That you will have a positive and lasting impact on those around you. That you will have joy in all your family moments.

 

I know our relationship has been rocky and difficult. It has been hard to find peace and acceptance. For my part, I apologize for not being a better ambassador for Christ. I feel I failed much more often than I succeeded in showing you the love of Christ. And that is entirely my fault. I chose to let myself be guided by my emotions instead of God’s love. In doing so, I reacted and overreacted in ways that hindered God’s love and peace from shining through. I allowed myself to respond inappropriately to choices you made. I chose anger instead of acceptance and being right over reconciliation. It didn’t matter if I was right or got frustrated at a lack of communication. The right thing is always love, and I failed to show you God’s love – a lot. For this, I am truly sorry.

 

Life is full of junk. We all face it, and it always sucks. One thing I know is this: the junk will either make us better or destroy us. Either way, it defines us and determines our outcome. I know that 2015 has been very challenging for you, and I pray that you may be able to see God’s love and grace through the junk.

 

Because here’s the simple truth: God loves you. He created and designed you to be uniquely you. He has a great plan for your life. He has big plans and big blessings for you. Yes, for you. He loves you more than you can imagine or comprehend.

 

And His love is bigger and so much better than any of your junk. He wants to take your junk – and all the pain, heartache, anger, frustration, and shame associated with it – and give you peace, joy, and grace instead. He wants to love all your hurting and broken places into wholeness, health, and happiness.

 

And again I apologize for not being a better steward of this message to you. I should have chosen grace instead of grudges and surrender instead of stubbornness when thinking about and responding to things. I should have chosen humility instead of hard feelings. No matter if I agreed or not and no matter if I was right or not. Because God says His followers should always do the right thing – and when we do, our fickle feelings will fall into the right place (the place called grace).

 

So as you go into your next adventure, I pray you go with expectations of great things. I pray you do and accomplish big and impossible things. I pray you have success beyond your biggest fantasy.

 

And most importantly, I pray you find and have peace. Peace to accept people where they are yet lovingly encourage them to grow. Peace to let little things and differences go. Peace to praise as often as possible. In other words, peace to draw people to you and want to learn what you have to teach.

 

I also pray you will be able to see and appreciate all of God’s blessings in your life. For you are blessed, and God will continue to bless you. Learn to see each blessing – big and small – and know He loves you.

 

He loves you unconditionally, without limits. And His love wants to take all the junk and replace it with His goodness. Isaiah 61:1-3 – “… [God] has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness …”

 

And may you be blessed beyond your wildest imagination. I pray that the prayer of Aaron in Numbers 6:24-26 be woven into the fabric of your life:

24 “The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you;
26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”’

Goodbye Letter to Shannon 11-15

Marie Fremin, 11/8/15 and 11/22/15

 

Walls Don’t Work

I feel like God is speaking to me and trying to break my hard heart. If I am being honest, there is a wall around at least part of my heart, and in my truest faith moments, it bothers me greatly.

Don’t we all have at least part of a wall somewhere in our heart? A wall gives us the illusion of security and safety for our hurt feelings, mangled words, and misunderstood intentions. It makes us feel protected from accusations untrue and words misspoken.

Walls Don't Work

But our walls don’t always serve the purpose we erected them for. They trap us in our bad attitudes, our wrong ideologies, our anger, our judgments, and our unhappiness.

Walls don’t work. Because walls don’t promote life.

Walls are our attempt to keep people away from us because they may hurt us, judge us, or call us out. Walls give us the appearance of being safe and secure from all the evils of the world, but they really only serve one purpose – to serve our purposes. To prove we are tough enough, strong enough, and smart enough to figure it out. To handle it on our own. To be our own champion.

But walls don’t work. Because walls deceive us into believing we are enough, that we don’t need people and even God to help us get through each day.

Boundaries are beautiful – and necessary. They set limits on our time, energy, focus, vision, and emotions. They keep us walking in the right direction while reaching out to people. They allow people in. They allow you to go outside yourself. All the while setting a “safety zone” to stay within God-ordained parameters.

But walls do the opposite. Walls keep us trapped in our own world, our own thoughts, and our own judgments. Walls keep us from seeing the truth, dealing with people, and making necessary changes. Walls don’t allow for healthy relationships, joyful living, or a thriving and abundant love walk. Walls block out love and joy and peace from entering our lives and penetrating our hearts. Walls deflect grace from coming in and going out.

So walls don’t work.

And then I have to get really honest and admit I several thick walls up right now. And I think God has been knocking on my walls, asking me to see them and start to knock them down. And I have been reluctant. I have been stubborn. I have been self-righteous.

I actually spent a few minutes today writing out my declaration of wrongs against a coworker. I started the letter to document the injustices and hurt feelings, hoping for a little relief from the thoughts that bombard me and a big change for the tension that envelops my office. I rehearsed what I was going to write and edited it as I went. So when I had a few minutes before the movie today, I started to write. And then “War Room” started, and what I was going to say doesn’t need to be said anymore.

God bless Ms. Clara and her prayers. God bless her faithfulness. God bless her tenacious outspokenness for sharing truth.

She reminded me that it’s not my job to change people. It’s not my responsibility to keep a list of wrongs. It’s not a good thing to argue and be argumentative.

It’s my job to fight the right way – to pray – and let God fight the battle for me. It’s my job to pray for the change I want to see. It’s my job to trust God to right the wrongs and deal with people.

And after crying through most of the movie, I admit that God succeeded in breaking my heart. I feel a big crack in my walls. And I am hopeful that tomorrow I can go in and face the day – and the difficulties – with a new perspective.

Walls Don't Work 2

It has long been my prayer and my heart’s desire to see people as God sees them. As beautifully and wonderfully created people with His purpose on their lives. As His poetry, written in fleshly form for the world to glorify Him. As His precious child, loved so deeply and perfectly by Him.

But it’s hard. And the walls stop such truth from fully penetrating – and being expressed. For how can we love the world without exception when we can’t go beyond our walls? How can we be the hands and feet of Jesus, readily available to His calling, when we can’t see beyond our hurts? How can we bless people beyond measure when we can’t live beyond our anger?

OUCH!

Thank God for another day – which is another opportunity to get it right and to be better. To live bolder. To act faster. To serve wholeheartedly. To give more. To love unconditionally. To respond slower. To pray quicker.

So after seeing Ms. Clara and taking a lesson from her, I need to start praying for the change I want to see. I need to give all my issues, attitudes, and problems to God – and to let God be my champion. I need to step out of God’s way and let Him show me my walls – which don’t work – so we can deal with them together.

And as I do, since His promises are true, I will see change. And God will get the glory.

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for allowing me to part of Your family. Thank You for the opportunity to walk with You and know You. Please show me the areas where I have walls that don’t work and help me to be bold enough to see them and surrender them to You. Help me to pray first and pray steadfastly for any problems in my life. Help me to live sold out and submitted wholeheartedly to You. In Jesus’ mighty and all powerful name. AMEN!

Marie Fremin, 10/4/15