Today the younger kids and I planned on joining in on a field trip to the zoo. We got all ready and headed out only to get stuck in a huge line of cars. After waiting our turn, we finally got to the overflow parking lot and I kinda made my own space. EVAs we walked closer to the entrance, we were met with a sea of people. More buses than probably our school district owns and lots and lots of strollers. The kids were excited and I was mentally preparing for the wait to even get into the zoo. Then it hit me, we don’t have to do this. We stopped right there on the sidewalk with people going around us and I told the kids the situation. This place is going to be nuts and I asked if they would want to make a new plan. What if we took the money we would have spent going to the zoo and spend it on a toy instead? One of them actually said, “Now that’s a field trip!” We tracked back to our car, moved an orange cone and were on our way. A choice was made and we had a great time!

You know every now and again, people will ask me about having 7 kids and how am I so calm. This question is almost always asked when the kids aren’t with me. I finally came up with an answer. It’s a choice. I can choose to be calm or I can let anger, frustration, stress and outside circumstances dictate how I act. You know who pays the price? My husband, kids, friends or any other poor sap who would have happened to get in my way at the zoo. The worst part is it must grieve the heart of God. If I say I am a believer of Jesus and my desire is to reflect Him, what am I saying to others about who He is?

Look at Ephesians 4:31-32 with me. “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking be put away from you with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” I know for a fact that I have and do display all of these bad things at one point or another. I’ve held onto bitterness and let my wrath rise. Oh, and the evil speaking, yes that too. I would add in that for me, when I am afraid, it comes out in anger. However, we are told that this shouldn’t be. We are to be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving and these are the total opposite of what came naturally for me. What makes all the difference is when you not only accept and believe, but let Christ forgiveness become part of you. It then is what naturally flows out of your heart.

Do I still have struggles with my anger? You bet. Do I just love everyone? Some people are harder than others for me to love, but I try to because the deep root of God’s love in me. The conviction that comes quickly is pretty helpful when I’m not pouring out what has been freely given.

Keep reading what comes next in Ephesians 5:1-2. “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma.” In order to imitate someone, you have to get to know them, study all you can and talk with them every chance you get. This takes time and discipline, but it gets easier the more in love you fall with God.

I would give anything to go back in time and walk in love, treating others differently. So many words I carelessly let fly and hardened my heart to those who I found difficult or not like me. Sometimes a girl that has grown up in the church and takes in all the right information, but lets it stop in her head, can be a very poor reflection of love. But, I have a choice.  I can begin again and each new day. “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  (Lamentations 4:22-23) This tells me that the Lord has mercy on us, His compassion doesn’t run out and He is faithful.

May each of us look more like the forgiving Christ in the way we walk this weekend. I pray others notice and tell you so!

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