Re-Gifting the Fragrance of Forgiveness

The fragrance of forgiveness

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” -Mark Twain

Fragrances during the Christmas season can evoke a mix of emotions, even unexpected ones. One whiff of vintage vinyl and I become ten years old all over again, upstairs in my grandmother’s house where we played Johnny Mathis and Bing Crosby. Or the scent of firewood freshly split for the woodburning fireplace transporting me back to a house filled with love, laughter, and impromptu family concerts in the den.

The sense of smell is a powerful sensory. In fact, it’s the most sensitive of the whole bunch. Perhaps this is why Mark Twain’s quote catches my heart every time. Sometimes it’s my heel that tramples on another. And then there are times when I must be the one to release the fragrance of forgiveness because of the bruised and imprinted heel marks left on my own life. Just as the violet doesn’t decide as to whether or not it should forgive the heel that stepped upon it, neither do I.

For how could I, a forgiven soul through the fragrance of Christ, even consider withholding it from another?

Christmas cookiesThere seems to be a spot divinely embedded in the heart that softens at Christmas, offering unique opportunities to forgive even the smallest of offenses. People attend a Christmas Eve services, send cards, bake cookies, visit neighbors and nursing homes, etc. The list goes on!

Below are a few ideas on ways we can practice the art of re-gifting the fragrance of forgiveness this year:
  • Re-gifting the fragrance of forgiveness happens when we first forgive ourselves. Much like the gift of grace, we cannot give to others what we ourselves do not possess. If we are in Christ, we do possess forgiveness⎯but embracing it for ourselves often proves to be more difficult than offering it to others. {Or at least that’s what I’ve found to be true in my own life.} Poor choices I made years ago still quicken tears in my eyes more often that most know, but at the core of my sadness, I know that God, through Christ, has forgiven me for those past sins. It’s only because of my confidence in Christ that I can move forward in joy. And you can, too. Need a little reminder today of God’s gift of forgiveness toward you? Savor His words found in 1 John 1:9, Isaiah 43:25,26, Acts 3:19, Isaiah 1:18, etc.
  • Re-gifting the fragrance of forgiveness happens through simple, thoughtful gifts. If you know that you’ve offended or hurt someone in your circle of life, take a few moments to write a note and attach it to a plate of cookies. Leave it on their doorstep and let your written words open the door to future conversations.
  • Re-gifting the fragrance of forgiveness happens when you forgive someone else before they even ask for it. This goes beyond the realm of what’s expected but isn’t that what Jesus did at every turn? You can forgive them quietly in your heart or by extending your forgiveness through a card or letter. Not sure where to begin? Dayspring offers biblical greeting cards that will help get you started. Sometimes that’s all we need, right? If the person in need of forgiveness has passed, write a letter to him/her. Then throw it away or burn it, symbolizing the release that’s taken place within.

This Christmas, and every day, may we be the fragrance of Christ through the way we love, serve, and forgive others. When others see, hear, and rub shoulders with us, may they catch a whiff of the costliest, most extravagant fragrance of all.

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us triumphantly in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.” 2 Corinthians 2:14

Who needs Chanel Coco Noir Eau de Parfum under the tree when the sweetest fragrance of all lies within us?

Is there a particular scent that evokes a past memory for you at Christmastime? Please share!

 

Week 1: Re-gifting the Gift of Grace

Re-Gifting the Gift of Grace this Christmas

Re-gifting Grace

Who can forget the episode of Seinfeld when Dr. Tim Whately is accused of re-gifting a label maker to Jerry?

It’s true that re-gifting is often frowned upon but some gifts are just meant to be given more than once. Over the next few weeks, I hope you’ll join me as we explore what it means to re-gift these types of gifts⎯those purchased in the eternal and wrapped by the love a Savior. Today, let’s unwrap and re-gift the gift of grace.

RainbowMoments ago, I stepped outside and saw a full rainbow stretched out above the mountain range. I took a quick picture but it began to rain. I ran inside to see if my speedy shot had captured this promise written across the sky in brilliant colors. As you can see, I barely caught the edge. By the time I returned outside for a better shot, the clouds had crept in, obscuring my view.

Some promises are like that, wouldn’t you agree? We’re told (or we say) just the right words at the right time but then desires shift, taking our well-meaning promises with them.

But God {the most powerful word duo ever written} — He is the keeper of promises.

Ephesians 2:8,9In verse 4 of Ephesians 2, it says that because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions.There is nothing in us or about us that motivates the Lord’s favor. We deserve wrath, but through Christ, we instead received grace, which many define as “unmerited favor from God”. And this undeniable, powerful, life-changing favor changes everything. It alters the choices we make, our desire to serve, our priorities, and the way we love others. God’s unmerited favor toward us changes everything. So how can we not turn around and show the love of Christ to others?

If we are going to practice re-gifting this Christmas (and throughout the year) let it begin with the gift of grace. Here are just a few practical ways we can put this desire into practice.

Re-Gifting Grace:

 

  • Re-gifting grace happens when we pray for those who have hurt us or for those who are hurting us still. There is something about lifting a person’s name before God’s throne that slowly and quietly begins to allow us to see that person as God sees him/her. It may or may not erase the pain associated with the name but it will be offering grace through the gift of prayer.
  • Re-gifting grace happens when we give others permission to be different. A sweet friend (and one of the most humble women I know) and I sometimes tease how the world would be a much better place if everyone would just think like we do. {Yep, I just admitted that – just keepin’ it real here, friends!) We giggle and then proceed to slurp down our coffee {I didn’t say the world would be a better-mannered place!) Truth is, I think we all struggle with those who are different from us. Maybe it’s politics (as we can all attest to), our beliefs, questioning whether or not a believer should drink a glass of wine, or get tatted. The list goes on. This is where knowing the Word for ourselves (instead of believing hand-me-down beliefs) cultivates a life that’s willing to release others to be different and into His loving care. Perhaps this comes in the form of refusing to gossip or tear down the person. Or inviting him/her over for a warm dinner. Or it could be as simple as offering a warm hug or a kind word — or no words at all.
  • Re-gifting grace happens when we offer grace to ourselves first and foremost. The old adage rings true – we can’t give away what we ourselves do not possess. In Christ, we can rest in God’s unmerited favor whether we feel like or not. In fact, it’s when we least feel like resting in His love that we need it the most. The enemy reminds us of past choices, forgiven-but-former sins, and anything else he believes will mar the beauty of God-given grace. Our ability to both receive and rest in it proves the enemy wrong every single time. Every.Single.Time.

Let’s give re-gifting another try this year! I don’t know about you but focusing on eternally-produced gifts helps me to stay focused on the Gift HImself, Jesus Christ. Our Messiah, deliverer, healer, grace-giver, mercy-laden Savior. Thank You, Jesus.

What’s one way you can extend grace to another person this Christmas?

 

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Meaningful Words Begin With Living A Meaningful Life

Live a great storyLiving a meaningful life is a worthy pursuit, wouldn’t you say? But exactly how does one define “meaningful”? For me, it goes something like this: Embracing the eternal {God, relationships, the gospel} so tightly, so fully, that the temporal {“stuff”, foolish arguments, stepped-on-toes} are gasping for air.

The desire to live more intentionally was the catalyst for a recent change — a reset if you will. Before making our move toward mountain views, life had begun to feel frantic. Deadlines, to-do’s, self-inflicted pressure, etc. Oh, and let’s not forget the bumper-to-bumper traffic just outside our front door⎯all culminating to create one frazzled female.

It was there, in the midst of chaos, that I sensed God telling me to focus more on living and less on writing. Not that my writing needed to decrease but rather, take its proper placement in my life. While I believe writing is a calling God has given me, I am certain it is not my only {or most important} calling. Now that we live closer to one set of grandchildren, I want to be available as much as possible for them. I also want to be available for family, friends, and neighbors, including my drop-by buddy of 20+ years, Becky {who now lives only two doors up the road!}. It feels good and right when I joyfully set aside writing to spend time with her when she drops by for an afternoon visit.

Before our move, I had a tendency to see most things as an interruption {sigh} when writing. It’s an embarrassing admission but embracing the eternal⎯living a more meaningful life⎯includes cultivating a teachable, pliable heart/mind, a willingness to not only face what the Spirit reveals but to also move forward {in His power} to turn in a different direction. And to turn in a different direction, one must slow down.

A cup of teaFew things in life feel slow especially if you’re a mother of young children or scurrying to build a career or a dozen other reasons. But I believe there are a few things we can do to slow down our inner pace in order to hold this God-given life in reverential awe:

  • Before the feet hit the floor, spend a few moments thanking God for the gift of sleep. Sometimes I also pray that God will help me be attentive to the eternal, meaningful things that day, and to release the rest. Because if you’re like me, you can sometimes take on things that are good {church work, helping at your children’s school, etc.} but perhaps they’re not the best choice for that particular day. Only God knows so staying open to His will automatically helps us to move through our day with more intention.
  • Schedule “rest stops” throughout your day. Many of us grew up believing that if we weren’t always doing something then we weren’t achieving anything. Wrong. Statistics show that those who choose to take brief respites in the form of a mini-nap, a savored cup of tea, or simply pausing to listen to instrumental music, are ultimately more rested and creative than those who choose to treat life more like a treadmill.
  • Harness the power of silence. Turn off the radio in your car when you’re driving. If it’s terribly uncomfortable, start with just a minute or two. Or escape to the bathroom {or better yet, the bathtub!}, take a walk around the block, curl up with a captivating novel. Learning to embrace silence is a gift we give to ourselves and ultimately, to others.

Learning to live a more meaningful life can fuel our calling {or callings}. It is choosing to live from the abundance of life rather than settling for the leftovers.

What does living a meaningful life mean to you? Do share!

I pray that you and yours will have a blessed Thanksgiving. Know this: I am ever so thankful for you!