As a parent it seems that I am endlessly repeating myself to my kids... lesson after lesson, there are days I wonder if my kids will ever really get what I am saying. But, still, I love them enough to not give up on repeating myself. :) The other day, however, they had a lesson to teach me... I wonder how many times God tried to tell me before He had to tell me through my kids... :)

Back to the main point. What was it my kids showed me? Love- undefiled. Well, we talk about love all the time.... yeah, yeah yeah, be nice. Give hugs. Show a smile. Sometimes, we try to dress up love in pretty little phrases, or acts that cost us nothing. Kids say they love candy, women say they love shoes, some folks say they'll show love by smiling at someone. Other say they'll show love by donating something. But real love... the kind Jesus talks about isn't that easy... it doesn't come by in a smile. It's so much harder than that... messier, uglier, and down right costs us. A lot.

What brought all this up? The moment every mom dreads walking her kids through, was happening in our house... daily! Those heart wrenching conversations when your kids tell you they've been made fun of, pushed around, ignored, misunderstood- just kept getting brought up! As a mom, my gut reaction goes straight into "protect and preserve." I'm already rehearsing in my mind what I'll say to that kid and their mom... you know... the conversations you think in your head, but never really say out loud (well, lets hope so, at least!). And every time I started to think that way... wouldnt you know Jesus started speaking to my heart. "Natalie... be careful. Those are MY kids. Every single one of my kids is special, and I value them. I didn't ask you to love the ones who were easy to love, i asked you to love everyone, especially the ones who hurt you!" So, of course, I felt it necessary to share with my girls what Jesus had told me. It went a little something like this:

" You know, when someone in our life hurts us, it's most likely because they are hurting inside. Maybe they had a hard day, or someone said something mean to them. Jesus says we are to love EVERYONE, even the ones who hurt us! I bet if we did something nice for those kids, it would make their day, and that might just be what they need to be kind!"

Well, of course I hoped they were paying attention, but I wasn't expecting the response I got! As soon as I said that, Brooklyn's little eyes lit up... she began brainstorming how she could bless those kids who had picked on her & her sister. Right off the bat, she grabbed her brand new sucker, and put it in her backpack. She gave that sucker away, and the next day helped her sister find stickers to give to a kid who had hurt her feelings!

I was in absolute tears! How beautiful are the examples of children? I was so caught off guard at how freely they gave- without flinching they turned around and gave love. It got me thinking... when was the last time I did something to bless the people in my life that have upset me? Frustrated me? Let me down? It was so easy for them to obey God in that moment, and trust His love, but why had it taken so long for me to get this?

You see, the problem was... I grew up. I found myself trying to solve my own problems without God's help. And where did it get me? Less and less like Him. God's love is 100% pure, unconditional, forgiving of ALL offenses, patient, not selfish in ANY way, it's not rude, or proud (thinking my way's the best). And what was I? Angry, holding grudges, frustrated, impatient, totally not understanding, waiting for an opportunity to set people right!

God has had to remind me over and over again that when I signed up to be His, I signed over my rights. Yep, that means I no longer have rights to my selfishness, or rights to feel justified. I no longer have rights to solve my own injustice... instead God just asked me to follow Him. To obey Him. To love others the same way He loved me. Pure, unconditional, forgiving ALL offenses, patient, not selfish in any way, polite, & humble.

You see, my challenge for you today is not JUST to give away stuff to people that hurt you... my challenge today is that you take a moment to sit with God, and surrender your rights. To give Him your whole heart. To let Him take your brokenness, and replace it with freedom. You see, when we give Him our junk, He gives us back gold... and in turn, asks us to do the same for others. To give them something that COSTS us... the same way my kids gave something so special to them: forgiveness, candy, stickers, & love:)