Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Looking Through the Lens of Grace

I was washing dishes this week and looking through my kitchen window at the pretty flowers and herbs.  They had recently been moved to the deck fence to receive more sunshine, which put them in the line of sight for one looking out that particular window.

They are beautiful this year even with the decision to purchase less flowers and grow more herbs in the containers.  Perhaps that is why the scene is so peaceful.  I love lots of greenery around my "space".  The bouquet I carried at my wedding contained yellow roses and a lot of greenery, as I had requested when ordering it from the florist.

Creating this beauty didn't cost much as I have collected various kinds of flower pots from garage sales and thrift stores over the year.  So come Spring, a couple bags of potting soil and some flower/herb starts are all that is needed. 

But all of this reminded me of a comment left a few years ago.  The comment that almost stopped Coffee Tea Books & Me.  As with all bloggers, I had received snarky comments before but this one was different.  This person was not questioning the content of the blog but my character.

She had accused me of lying and manipulating readers.  She said I obviously had a lot of money for she couldn't afford to live in such a nice house and with such beautiful surroundings.  She went on to attack me but that was the basis of it.  Her biting words almost worked... I came within a whisper of closing down the blog.  Did others believe that about me?

As I spent time alone with the Lord, He provided much needed wisdom.  For this woman was looking at me through warped lenses.   She had formed her own version of what was true and I'm not sure why.  Perhaps she had a deep root of bitterness?  Maybe she was filled with jealousy of others?  I don't know.  But He showed me what others saw as sharing from my heart about creating Beauty with less... she didn't believe could happen.  So I had to be lying.

For one thing, she obviously could not have read my blog for long.  We are fortunate to reside in a part of the country where housing is quite affordable, especially in rural areas like we live.  But over and over I had written that the two primary messages I wanted to share in this blog are 1) we can live beautiful lives given all kinds of health & financial challenges, and 2) how to deepen the pantry on a small income.

Obviously I returned to blogging but made a few changes.  The most important being that it was then I began moderating comments.  For if "hit and run accusers" have no audience, they usually don't comment.  I haven't had a problem since then. 

The other change was that I was no longer as transparent as I had been.  Even all these years later, I still filter carefully what I share.  I will stare at the screen for long periods of time to find the right words.  Those which share a message but without a hint of self pity.  For I truly believe I'm right where God wants me and He is the Provider.  I want others to know that, too.  For their own lives.  So there is now... balance.  I hope.

I do have a gift from God, I have an eye for Beauty.  I can look at one man's junk and turn it into a treasure.  Personally I think my daughter is even better at it than I am.  But God gives me these amazing ideas and even I am astounded sometimes at how they turn out.  Knowing that He is the Master Creator and the True Artist.

So what is this blog title all about?  What do I mean about "lens of grace?".  It is this way, we need to be careful how we allow what others think of us to form our self worth.  For there are a whole lot of people more than happy to put us down.   The enemy sends people with forked tongues into every life and unfortunately... many can be Christians!

I have people in my life, those thorns in the flesh that I long ago stopped even trying to please.  For they look at me through their own varnished lens.  What I find surprising about my worst critics... those who love spewing their slander from one person to another... is that they really don't know me very well.  Those who are the most critical have never spent much time with me, their own idea of who I am has been formed and focused from long distances.

I also have learned... and this time through my own mistakes... to look at others through the lens of God's Grace.  You will never hear me criticizing another person, blogger, or ministry here.  Sometimes people have e-mailed me and privately asked me my opinion on a person in ministry and I'll give an honest opinion.  My theology will come through from time to time but hopefully never in attacking a person.

I do pray for those whose teaching I find lacks integrity of Scripture.  I pray that God sends people they will respect to listen to their correction.   Pastors and teachers who are skating on the thin ice of doctrine need our prayers as do all of us that we know God's Truth.

Do I look through the lens of Grace perfectly?  Not at all!  Recently I stopped following a favorite author on Facebook because she was just too liberal in her theology for my thinking.  But I missed her.  I missed her writing.  And her words that make me think.  I realized God had her in my life for a purpose... even if we didn't "Do Church" exactly the same.  So I liked her again.  I'm sure she didn't miss me among the 40,000+ Followers but I was glad to be back.

Whose lens should we care about?  Whose opinions should we choose to reflect?  Well, obviously the first is God's opinion of us as reflected in His Word.  If you have received His Salvation then we are told He sees us as if we have never sinned.  He sees us through the blood of His Son, who came to His own Creation as a baby... who lived a perfect life... who took our sins upon Him as the ultimate sacrificial Lamb... and returned to the Father having made a way for us to follow!

The Father sees us through the lens of Jesus life, death, and resurrection!  Hallelujah!

We need to pay attention to the opinion of our spouse, our children, our parents, and those who love us most.  To those who live with us day in and day out. They will not have perfect words for some of them are looking through warped lenses. 

But I have learned Truth through them.  Especially my children when they were younger and before they learned to be more... shall we say... diplomatic.  ;)

As for now, all these years later, I continue writing and showing and telling and waxing poetic about things of Beauty and Grace.  Being careful about the words I receive and that I give.  In this battle between Good and Evil... words are often the chosen arrows of the enemy.  No wonder the Bible has so many teachings about the tongue (and by default the pen and the mouse and the keyboard).

I often remember that the Bible says we will give account of our words.  All of them.  Hmmm... perhaps it is time to stop writing.  And talking.  Becoming a Joe Friday "just the facts, maam" kind of person.  I will  have to ponder that.  I'll get back with you.  Next week.  Same Time.  Same Place.


Lee Ann said...

wow this post is making me think. I too have a favorite female Christian author who I feel is more liberal than I am but whose books make me think. Maybe I will follow her again too.

BTW-I sent you a friend request on FB!

Anonymous said...

Reading your weekend posts always is a balm for my soul Brenda. I'm glad you didn't stop blogging. I am always amazed at how I receive the spiritual messages I need to receive if I pause and listen. Have a blessed week.

Marie said...

Amen! Well put, Brenda.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

This is another area where we are alike. I nearly stopped blogging years ago too, due to long distance family members who were critical of what I shared. They, though they are believers, had a different focus than we did, and they felt free to comment about it. They never spoke to us privately only on my blog. Sigh. I found myself second guessing everything I said for a while until the Lord asked me who I was blogging for them or Him.

Grateful to have meet you through blogging!


Anonymous said...

At the risk of repeating myself-you have such a gift from God with words that inspire and teach. What a privilege to be able to do that. Keep up the good work/words. So glad you are still with in "Blogland". I would miss you so much if you left us. Blessings, Sharon D.

Anonymous said...

I don't comment normally, but wanted to say I am glad you continue to blog. Your blog is one I check for a post daily. I enjoy reading your posts and would miss it if you stopped.


Thistle Cove Farm said...

Please don't let meanness stop you for anything; perhaps you're blogging "for such a time as this"...? I've been blogging for ten years and the rats and roaches, while few, have been strong in their nastiness. After Dave, my husband, died, a blogger commented, "It's been six months; don't you think it's about time you got over it?" On her blog, she's a self proclaimed witch but not sure why she didn't think I picked that up from her comments...wry smile... Anyway, she's made shirty little comments before and since that tell me she's a very unhappy, mean, small, petty person. Her problem, not mine. I'm reminded of that famous GWTW line..."Frankly, my dear..." and no, I didn't actually use it.
Life isn't about them or us, it's about Him and doing what we do...blogging, dishes, gardening, work...for His glory. Life isn't about the here and now; it's about the here after.

Anonymous said...

Oh, scary thought! We also would never have "met" if you hadn't been blogging. My life would not have been the same without your input and friendship, my friend! I'm richer because we met! So glad you decided to keep on. Always enjoy what you have to say, and often, we are thinking along the same lines. (Now is that scary or what? Smile) Praying God blesses you! Pam (SD)

Jonell w Harrison said...

Yaayy for the option of COMMENT MODERATION. I even go a step further and will not post any comment left as ANONYMOUS.

When I see a several with that same ANONYMOUS I delete them all
My thoughts personally when I read of your strangely unkind commenter was: "That dear sad person was hurting and struggling with some difficult things that day" That was no day to be clicking the "send"/ post.

You are on my BLOG HONOR ROLL and as I check recent posts regularly it always makes me feel GOOD coming to your site..even simply viewing your header/banner.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm So glad you didn't stop blogging! I never would have found you! So Sorry you received such negative comments. None of us needs any more negativity in our lives. There's enough of that in the daily news! I appreciate all that your share with us! Your ponderings, tips and and advice are always Much appreciated! I wish I had your decorating flare! My daughter learned to decorate on a very tight budget and has made every place she's lived in homey and attractive! It's defintely a talent! Besides, re-purposing is Hot these days! As is Flea-market gardening! Thanks for sharing!
Hugs and Blessings,
Laura C. (WA)

Morning's Minion said...

I was talking with a new Christian friend recently and we touched on the subject of criticism--how we react when it is directed at us. It is hard to restrain from an instant retaliation, especially when it seems that the offender makes a habit of hurtful words.
Oh, that I could remember, "Search me, O God--and see if there be any wicked way in me!"
I think there are times when we must put distance between ourselves and the person who is habitually unkind--easier if it is not someone of our immediate circle.
It is always amazing to me to discover that someone might be 'jealous' or resentful of who I am and the lifestyle that my husband and I have worked hard to [frugally] establish.

Vee said...

Always interesting even when I am not in total agreement for I also believe that we will be held accountable for those words we were meant to say, but did not. I am in more of a push-back place — pushing back against the false teachings in the church, which are legion, corrupt politics and politicians, and anything else that smacks of less and false. The challenge will be to do it firmly and kindly in a way that can be heard.

Oh I remember that old comment. Some people's kids! So glad that you did not allow it to derail you nor this blog. God has a big plan for you and this place.