July 14, 2014

What does it mean to be a PeaceMaker?

I just love it when I'm doing my morning Bible study and suddenly my note taking turns into the outline of a blog post. It's my natural instinct I think, to think in blog post terms: Lists, How-To's, Storytelling. It's part of who I am.

I am working through the Sermon on the Mount from She Reads Truth with two of the new friends God has blessed me with since our move. One of the focal verses is Matthew 5:9

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

I've had the verse on my phone all week, a constant reminder to be a peacemaker. But then, I found myself wondering: what exactly does it mean to be a peacemaker?

Enter: The List.

What Does It Mean to be a Peacemaker?
to make peace; to be peaceful

1. Don't Gossip/Stir up Drama.
Something I started praying about many years ago (and still have to pray today) is that God would make me uncomfortable with gossip. I've always heard it's a girl thing (and I have no experience as a male to say otherwise) but the temptation to dive in to a juicy piece of "did you hear?" is a very real and present struggle. But never have I given in to the temptation and left thinking, "yeah. That was worth it. I feel so much better now that I know blah blah blah about that person."  No. I always feel guilt and yuck thinking how much it would hurt if I knew two people were saying those same things or telling those same stories about me. Regardless of them being true or false. One thing gossip doesn't do is create peace.

2. Apologize When You Do Wrong.
When I first moved to Texas, I joined a praise team with my church. We have this app called GroupMe which allows us to text eachother in group form constantly. I love the community it has created. It wasn't long before I noticed these puplic apologies happening there. Someone would say a snarky comment (usually in partial jest) and then, without being asked for it, they would later apologize for said comment, worried it had hurt the person it was directed at. Within this group of friends, we have made it a point to make amends even over the smallest things. I'd never really encountered anything like that before and I'm not going to lie, at first, it was a bit uncomfortable for me. But, over time, I saw the grace that is extended when friends humbly ask one another for forgiveness. It is so freeing and actually helps bond relationships even tighter, especially when the apology isn't asked for.

3. Take a Second. Breath. Count to Ten.
If someone says or does something that just downright bothers you, Take a few seconds. Stop. Look at it from their perspective. Something that bothers me is when I'm asked a million questions. I admit this to be a flaw and something I really need to work on.

Also, I totally do this to others which I find really interesting/annoying. I can actually feel myself annoying others (aka my own self) when I do it. But I know that my asking questions just means I want to be involved. And so when I am feeling frustrated by someone else doing that to me, I need to stop. Remember their heart/motivations. Remember that I do the exact same thing. And treat them how I would want to be treated: with love and affirmation that my questions/opinions are valuable. (I'm still working on this one...)

4. Flesh It Out.
If you feel angry, hurt, or offended by someone or something, first: Complete steps 1-3. Skip the "venting" to your closest friend (try talking to God instead!) Ask yourself, what should I be apologizing to THEM for? And take a few moments to collect your thoughts so that you don't get off topic or say things you don't mean when the time comes to confront your transgressor.  Next, calmly, humbly and respectfully bring it to their attention. Let them know it hurt you and why. Then, listen. That's often the hardest part. Enter the discussion with the goal of making peace and finding understanding or forgiveness.

5. Then, as Frozen teaches us, LET IT GO.
Don't hold on to that thing which bothers you, hurt you, or the things you've done to hurt others. Once the apology is made or discussion is had, let it go. Don't bring it up the next time an offense is made. That never makes an argument end more peacefully. And if it's you who's done the offending, dwelling on something that's already been addressed and forgiven will only trap you in your own guilt which God says is gone. There is no condemnation. He has forgiven you. Erased your sin.

Accept/Give Grace. It is freely given to you by the Prince of Peace Himself. He makes us peacemakers because His Holy Spirit lives in Us. 

July 09, 2014

The Water is my Happy Place

You know what's awesome about living in the Rio Grande Valley? The beach is only an hour away. AN HOUR. I grew up a stones throw from the beach in Florida, but then I moved to the landlocked territory of North Alabama (for a boy - good thing that worked out! ;) where the closest thing I had to  a beach was a lake and sand that they called "Redneck Beach."  

The name didn't lie.

Now, I want to go to the beach any free day we have. So you can imagine my excitement when Wade's boss hosted his employees for a weekend on the water, including a fishing tournament!

Sadly, we didn't win. (How we came back with two fish and the other boats came back with 20 I'll never know.) But, we did get some fun photos!

You know you take a lot of photos when the boat guide asks if you're newlyweds. Nope. 5 years people. And we've still got it ;)

July 07, 2014

That time I spent the 4th of July in Mexico

You'd think of all holidays, the 4th of July would be one where my feet were planted on American soil. Well, not this year!  We did plan on getting back stateside for the annual city fireworks, but in typical Mexico fashion, the scheduled events of the day were scheduled VERY flexibly. We did get to see the fireworks on our drive back across the border, so there's that.

Our day started with a trip to a little market in Mexico with a mission team who had just completed a week of house building, gospel sharing, and relationship building. Going to the market on the last day is tradition. After they left for their trek back to Alabama, we local missionaries headed back to our little colonia for the elementary school's graduation. It was supposed to start at 4. It started at six. Typical. ;) Needless to say, we had a little time to kill. What better way to do so than dancing in the street?

Soon, darling little princesses in their graduation gowns began to arrive. I've been to a few graduations here in Mexico but I have never seen the girls go all out like this! They were adorable!

Once the ceremony began, we watched several of our kids perform dances with their classes, lead the pledge, and walk across the stage to receive their graduation diplomas and top of class honors.

The post graduation ceremonies were by far my favorite part. It's tradition in Mexico for each graduate to have "Padrinos."  Padrinos are sponsors for different pieces of the graduation. This year we were honored to be the padrinos to three graduates. For Dulce (the adorable girl posted above to the right) we were the padrinos of her ring. Wade got to present it to her. For Rigo and Chuy (two brothers, one above left and one below) we were the padrinos of their graduation outfits. Picking out these items for them was so much fun.

As an added surprise, I also had the honor of presenting rings to Rigo and Chuy in lieu of the padrinos of the rings who couldn't make it.

June 29, 2014

One Prodigals goes to ATX

I just got home from a seriously fun weekend in Austin with my worship team. There are more inside jokes and funny stories than I can count. So, I'll leave you with pictures.

I was the tourist of the group (aka the first timer) so I had to stop for photos in front of all the Austin landmark murals.

 headband from Jahanna Martinez

Lamb Burger at Hopdoddy | Espresso from Houndstooth

Love you guys! I'm so thankful to serve alongside you!
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