A Lesson in Foot Washing

My husband was having a rough day, a really rough day.  And he wasn’t pleasant to be around.  I was considering whether I should tell him how difficult he was, go away, or tough it out when I clearly heard God’s voice say “wash his feet”.  As is customary, I proceeded to argue with the voice in my head.  After all, his feet aren’t my favorite thing about him, and they really weren’t dirty.  But the voice persisted.  “Wash his feet.”

I was standing in the kitchen looking for an answer, and I couldn’t just stand there without saying something I would regret, so I started washing the dishes,  It was his turn to do them, and both of us really dislike the chore.  I didn’t say a word, I just washed the dishes.

Something magical happened in that moment.  The corners of his eyes softened.  His shoulders relaxed a little bit.  He started to breathe more deeply.  When I was finished, he hugged me and thanked me.  Just like that, we were back to being “us”.  He felt better.  What he needed most in his grumpiness was kindness.

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has also forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

Don’t we all need kindness when we are at our worst?  I know when I’m having a rough day, the thing I need most is a hug.  It’s not easy to hug me when I’m grumpy, but my husband does that for me.  He hugs me even when I don’t want to be hugged because he knows I need it.

The Bible is full of examples of kindness, and many words about it.  One of my favorite stories recently is in the book of Micah, and chapter 6 verse 8 jumped out at me:

Do justice.  Love kindness.  Walk humbly with God.

It really is that simple, and yet it takes discipline to stop and ask how I can show kindness in this moment.  I don’t always manage to do that, but, when I do, it’s beautiful to see how God can use my kindness to show His presence to those around me.

About the Writer:
Wendy is a wife and mother who works full time in Risk Management.  Here at First Dallas she serves in Sunday school, helps coordinate Angel tree, and teaches at Discipleship University.  Her greatest joy comes from discovering how following Jesus can greatly impact her daily life and the lives of those she cares about in innumerable, practical ways.

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How to Tame a Tiger: Parenting Tips and Tidbits from my Grandmother

She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26

Because my family and I lived with my grandparents for the first six years of my life, I have very many precious memories of living in a multigenerational home.  My grandfather owned and milked cows on a dairy.  My grandmother was a homemaker, and lived in a time when there were no dishwashers, no microwave ovens, no fancy kitchen gadgets, and with only a wringer type clothes washing machine.  Most of her wonderful home cooked meals came from the garden she had planted and vegetables that were either fresh or canned.  Out of her home came the best pies, made-from-scratch cakes, homemade candies, fried chicken and steaks, and lots of joy and fun.  During my first few years of school, all of my clothes were made by hand by her and my mom. I can remember being so excited about having five new dresses – one for every day of the week at the beginning of each school year.

Grandmother demonstrated to us all the lovingkindness which God shows to us. There were no extracurricular activities, except an occasional baseball game in a nearby field with my cousins. Some of my best memories are just being with my grandmother learning to sew, crochet, and cook; working by her side, or just spending quality time with her fishing off a dock. She led by example and worked tirelessly to see that all our needs were met.  All of us grandkids knew where she stood when it came to doing what we were supposed to do and respected her high behavioral expectations. I never remember her even having to raise her voice with any of us.  Even though she died when I was only eighteen, I am so thankful to have had her example of how to parent and lead a family with respect, love, and kindness. She was truly the Proverbs 31 woman.

As a grandmother now, I hope to pass along some of those parenting tips and tidbits I learned from her, as well as a few of my own.  Here are some of the things those include.

  • Read scripture daily – schedule a quiet time for yourself to reap the benefits of God’s wisdom. (Colossians 3:16) And pray, pray, pray. (I Thessalonians 5:17)
  • Read scripture aloud daily with your children, talking about it in daily activities, and memorizing with them. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9)
  • Keep high expectations for behavior, teaching (Proverbs 31:26) and explaining to them your expectations, and train them as you go. (Proverbs 22:6)
  • Don’t be afraid to discipline (train) age- appropriately with consequences related to the action. (Proverbs 13:24)
  • Set clear rules and boundaries always with their own safety in mind.
  • Be clear to the children when disciplining that you love them, but are not happy with their choice of wrong behavior, or actions. (Proverbs 3:12) And never let your own emotions get out of control.
  • Spend quality time with your children, stay connected, and know what is going on in their lives, always!
  • Finally, do all things with love and kindness, demonstrating the love of Christ, as He has done for us. (Ephesians 2:7) Don’t give up! It takes time to tame a tiger!

Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 3:3

 

About the Writer:
Beverly has been a long time teacher and administrator who alongside with her husband have taught numerous Sunday school classes. As a grandparent today, she loves to share with others God’s Word and make it applicable to daily living.

 

Beyond Being Nice

As my son approached his second birthday, I held my breath and waited for the rebellion to begin. I gathered several books about discipline theories and how a toddler’s brain works and stacked them on my bedside table.

I felt so ill-equipped, as each day brought new challenges, but the more closely I looked into my son’s eyes the more I saw a child who wanted desperately to be taught. I saw a child who learned by watching and needed an example, a child who craved personal connection and needed to see, hear and feel how loved he was. This child was learning his place in the world and had a heart that was ready to be molded.

Our children are growing up in a world that is new and exciting to them, but it’s growing more perilous every single day (2 Timothy 3:1-3). We sing the song ‘This Little Light’ and tell them to go out and shine in our dark world.

My husband and I continually pray for a long list of traits that we want our children to develop. But at the top of that list is kindness because of the powerful effect it can have in winning hearts for Christ. Romans 2:4 says ‘Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?’ It sounds simple but here’s the catch . . . kindness requires us to be vulnerable.

Kindness requires an inner security that runs so deep that we are not shaken when the other person rejects or mistreats us in return. We must put aside our pride and show a gentle and genuine compassion. Our opportunity to respond is not based on the other person’s deserving of our forgiveness, but on mercy alone.

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Luke 6:35

By teaching our children the principles of kindness, we are teaching them a multitude of other qualities like compassion, empathy, patience, and forgiveness. But all of these qualities are hollow without understanding the lovingkindess of God. This understanding can only be gained by experiencing it first hand in our lives, by having a personal relationship with Christ.

So, as parents teaching our kids about the meaning of kindness, let’s not confuse its definition with that of “niceness”. Let’s instead impress on them the grace and mercy that is at the core of kind actions. Let us point them to Christ.

About the Writer:
Audra has a passion for encouraging women in their roles at home in both marriage and motherhood. She enjoys sharing her journey of refinement and learning through these important transitions on her blog called The Homegrown Project.

He Ain’t Heavy

The road is long 
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows when
But I’m strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
So on we go
His welfare is my concern
No burden is he to bear
We’ll get there

For I know
He would not encumber me
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
If I’m laden at all
I’m laden with sadness
That everyone’s heart
Isn’t filled with the gladness
Of love for one another
It’s a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we’re on the way to there
Why not share

And the load
Doesn’t weigh me down at all
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

Those are the lyrics to Clay Crosse’s rendition of He Ain’t Heavy. This song was released in 1997 — the year and even the month of my very first short-term missions trip. I must have listened to that song a thousand times as I remembered the faces of my Russian fellow believers, the abandoned children and youth from the orphanages, and the countless people with whom we had shared the Gospel with doing door-to-door evangelism — the people who are etched into my memory with a recollection fiercer than any before or since. It was listening to that song, no doubt, that led me (also a thousand times) to beg God for a way to live amongst and serve those same people. Everything about the impressions of that song was my ideal — to live for the good of others, to carry their burdens no matter what the cost and, in doing so to be a reflection of Christ, Who loved us to the point of dying on the cross for our sins. This was, to me, the definition of kindness, benevolence, and graciousness — everything I begged God for the opportunity to be.

God granted me my request and paved the way for me to do just what I had asked of Him; and my joy truly was complete. However, in the process I came to understand that there are some burdens too great for my shoulders. Oppression, darkness, sadness, evil, deception, selfishness, hate — all are among the burdens far too heavy for me to carry for myself, not to mention for another. Perhaps this is the struggle of every follower of Christ, to desire desperately to reflect the One we love so much, while daily experiencing the truth that we are not strong enough to fight even our own struggle with sin lodged deep in our own hearts (Romans 7).

And then enters Kindness:

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

The word easy in “For My yoke is easy…” is the same word in Greek as the word used for kindness in Galatians 5 when referring to the fruit of the Spirit. How appropriate that Christ would define kindness as carrying the burden of sin on His shoulders so that we could be free to follow His example. Rest assured, He WILL call us to tasks too cumbersome for our own feeble selves, but it is His kindness that allows us to take the role of watching Him shine strong and victorious in the lead.

About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ in response to His gracious work in her life. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to loving her amazing husband and raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.