Thursday, September 29, 2016

Three strikes... you're out?

On Sunday nights we like to order in. It used to be that I would make a really nice, delicious (if I may say so myself) homemade pizza, but from March to November, an incredible heat takes over our beautiful little Island of Puerto Rico, and baking becomes a sacrifice I'm not always willing to make in my approximately 5 by 4 kitchen. So on Sunday nights we order in. A few weeks back, my husband wanted Chili's so he called and we placed an order. Half an hour later, he came home with two completely different dishes from what we order... And I got mad.
I was so mad because I was hungry and he never checks the order once he has it in his hands. Never! I was mad because it was late. I was mad because this meant that he had to go back, get the right orders and come home and it would take about 45 more minutes. I was mad because how difficult is it to pick up the right thing? I was mad because he argued that it was the lady's fault, not his. She was the one who gave him the wrong thing. But how difficult is it to open the bag and check if it's correct? I was mad because he knows I get mad whenever this happens and he still doesn't get it right. I was mad. So mad.
And my husband went back to Chili's. And about 45 minutes later came back. Everything in the order looked fantastic this time. So I opened the bag... Yep, again, mine was wrong. Oh, it was the right dish, but with everything I said I didn't want. You see, I'm a picky eater. I don't want mayonnaise or spicy sauces or tomatoes or guacamole. But my husband didn't check the bag. Again. And I was mad. And he was mad. And the lady at the restaurant? Yes, she took the blame. It was her fault, said my husband.
I wish I could say I was gracious. I wish I could say I thought about the many times I have failed, made mistakes, and done him wrong. Oh, but no. I was furious. I didn't eat it. I just closed the container, told him he could eat it for lunch the next day, and had a big bowl of cereal for dinner. But I was fuming, throwing him darts with every look, and thinking about the many things I wanted to say to him but didn't. And it was not good. But you know what? After a while, we finished eating, watched tv, and it all went back to normal. The next day it was all forgotten, a thing of the past, and a blessing because he had a good lunch without spending another dime.
And it hit me: sometimes extending grace is as simple as getting a bit of perspective. Sure, I had to settle for cereal instead of amazing quesadillas. And sure, my husband made the same mistake he always does, but it was a mistake with no eternal consequence. It was a mistake that took care of itself because it provided for him the next day. What would I have gained if I had stayed mad? Maybe a headache; maybe more than three I'm sorrys from my husband; and a whole lot of tension, uneasiness, and discomfort in our home, around our son, in our bedroom. So no. I didn't stay mad. I couldn't stay mad. I didn't want to stay mad. I gained way too much by just letting it go. I had peace, contentment, and a good night sleep.
We are not perfect. We do well to remember that we mess up, maybe not with a restaurant order, but maybe we leave the lights on, or the clothes on the floor, or the dirty dishes on the sink. Yes, we all have our fair share of strikes. Wouldn't it be great if they were met with a little bit of perspective and grace? After all, we do far worse things in our walk with God and He is always willing to forgive and forget completely.
So those were my husband's two strikes in one night. Has there been a third one? Yes. And a fourth and fifth one. And I have had a lot more than I care to say. But we've tried to be kind with one another and find a bit of funny in those situations. Just the other day he wanted to order Chili's once again. You know what I said to him? "I don't want Chili's. I don't trust you with the order." And my husband laughed and said, "How about Applebee's?"

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


A Christian since I was a teenager, I have been harsh, rude, judgmental, and self righteous instead of loving, kind, attentive, forgiving, and gracious. A few years ago, I read the book The Fruitful Wife, by Hayley Dimarco, and it changed me and moved me to be different, but it took a while. Actually, it took a spillage incident at a restaurant, scolding my 5 year old, and a sermon the next day to really stir in me, in my heart, the need to change. It came with the realization that I had been way too hard on my son, and my husband, and the rest of my family, and my friends, and the clients at the office, and everyone else.
I've been praying, reading, searching... This blog is basically for me. This is my space to put in writing what I'm learning and what God is working in me and through me so that I don't forget. This is my place to acknowledge where I've failed, to hold myself accountable, and let others know (if there are others reading) that they're not alone. Because we all need grace in our lives. When our children knock down their glass of water at the dinner table; when our husband brings the wrong take out order; when our parents don't pay attention to us; when our siblings hurt our feelings. We need to extend grace to others because we are not perfect, because we also knock things down, we make mistakes, we fail to pay attention to our family and friends, we hurt other people's feelings. We need grace.
God has been gracious to us giving us forgiveness and salvation through grace. And we are called to love one another with a love that covers a multitude of sins. And those sins that hurt too much? Those sins you just can't seem to look past? Forgive and extend grace. Reconcile. One day, you'll be on the other side of someone's hurt. Wouldn't it be great if you set the example today so that they extend love, grace, and forgiveness to you?
I need God's grace as much as anyone. I need to learn how to extend grace as much as anyone. So let's do it together!
Welcome to the Extending Grace Project!


We are our worst critics. We criticize ourselves constantly and harshly. And in terms of our relationship with others, this causes us to do one of two things to other people: 1) Criticize them just as bad as we do ourselves, or 2) Idolize them because we find them to be everything we are not. Either way, our relationship with our family, friends, and acquaintances is damaged; the image we have of one another is crooked. And it all starts with how we see ourselves. However, I’m not going to start talking about how we need to have high self-esteem. No, because I think that the focus on self esteem might actually be part of the problem.

You see, we focus too much on ourselves, and that is not what God intended for us. God commands us to fix “our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2). God wants us to focus on Him, to think less about ourselves, and more about Him and His will. Some of us focus too much on what we don't like about ourselves, the parts of us that we just can't stand, that we want to change. On the other hand, some of us focus too much on what we like about ourselves: how beautiful we are, how smart, how talented, how athletic, how savvy we are. And here's where our high or low self esteem comes into the picture. But that is not what God intended for us to do.

Do you know what is the chief end, the purpose, of men and women? Do you think it's to look ourselves in the mirror and criticize or admire what we see? Do you think it is to constantly think about ourselves and how awful or great we are? No. The chief end of men and women, our purpose, our reason for living is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. It's that simple. So simple. Too simple for some. We are not called, were not created to focus on ourselves, to compare ourselves to others, to look to others as idols or as people to put down.

It is not a matter of having a better esteem of ourselves. It is a matter of not looking for esteem in ourselves. Focus on God, on what God wants you to do. Focus on loving God and loving your neighbor. Focus on your relationship with God. Focus on serving others.

Strive to be like Christ; don't compare yourself to anyone else. Don't waste time looking in the mirror. Look to God, fix your eyes on Jesus, and live according to His Word. If you have your eyes on God and your heart set on serving others, your perception of yourself will change. You'll be able to see yourself as God sees you and you will be freed from criticizing yourself and criticizing or idolizing others. Live for God by His Spirit.