Introducing my work of the heart, I’m writing a book…

I have been working on a book for a couple years now. I’m about 2/3 done with the first draft. Yeah – I’m slow at this process. I’m feeling that the season to finish this book is bubbling closer to the surface. So I want to start sharing it. I feel like it’s the right time to put it out there. So, as the saying goes- “Here goes nothing!”

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“Campouts, Quicksand, and Cesspools: A journey through life’s messes”, by Lori Tisdale

Introduction

Things happen. Circumstances of life stink sometimes. Something happens to us that hurts. Sometimes that is done intentionally, sometimes done unintentionally. In those sticky messes we get often let ourselves get really good at camping out around the hot coals of hurt & hatred, or knowingly following our friends right into their murky quicksand, and sometimes even inviting our friends along with us into our own cesspools of junk … all while on our journey to forgiveness due to life’s messes.

Sometimes unintentionally, but sometimes we even set out to do so.  Stupidly, some of us actually wanted to get ourselves stuck.  We even wanted to take others down when we went – because having our friends join us in a pool of bitterness would make for a great party.  Right?!  (wink)

 

So, we go on our campouts.  We feel the need to escape life’s circumstances, be one with the earth (visualize dirt and grime) and settle in for a while.  We find our camping spot and unpack ALL.THE.GEAR.  We put our stakes down as the tents go up and then we dig in for a long stay around the campfire.  We comfortably settle into our seats and turn inward as we reminisce on life and lessons, rehash hurts and circumstances, remember disappointments and broken promises, and even replay betrayals… the list goes on.  The coals of anger and hurt burn red-hot as we continue to sit around that campfire and ask questions of each other about life and spirituality.  Stoking the fires of hypocrisy, we bundle up and stay by that campfire and gaze up at the stars of the sky and settle in for a long stay of the hurting heart.

Or maybe we see a friend struggling to wade through something impossible, like quicksand.  The farther they wade into the saturated sand the harder it is for them to move forward or get out and we watch them start to sink.  They had waded in on their own but our savior-complex got the best of us as we decided we were the right person to come to their rescue.  We joined them in their struggle instead of offering to get them the appropriate help.  We felt that we had enough fortitude and know-how and that their situation wouldn’t get us down too… and so we joined them.  We followed them right into the quicksand of life and got stuck too.  Often times we are the ones who found ourselves in quicksand, and then convinced our friends to join us in those moments…

And lastly some Christians like to invite other Christians to join their cesspool of festering bitterness – justifying it in a cloak of holiness.  We start pointing our fingers at the things we feel are going wrong in life, in the lives of our friends, in this country, even in “the church”. Instead of improving our perceptions or circumstances we feel the need to bring more people to the cesspool party… but this infested pool of pride and divisiveness is a fast-growing infection.  And sadly most people do not realize they have even joined the party until the infection takes a turn for the worse.

 

I should know.  I have done all of these things.  I have been camped out in my own unforgiveness.  I have waded into the quicksand of despair (mine AND someone else’s) and promptly got myself stuck.  I too have wallowed for years in a big ol’ cesspool of bitterness and excused it away as a quest for divine answers.  I may have even installed a pool-side slide to make it look like a fun pool party!

 

Don’t get me wrong – I know that I both caused painful circumstances and been on the receiving side of those hurtful moments. As the saying goes “Hurt people hurt people.” Not that it’s an excuse – but it is insightful.

 

 

And as a Christian, I had to learn the hard way that my own lack of forgiveness for those life circumstances was holding me hostage. I was a prisoner due to my lack of forgiveness towards those who hurt me.

There I was – the basis of my faith as a Christian is built on forgiveness and grace. And I found myself stuck in my own quicksand of resentfulness.

And then… something shifted. When my word for the year became “FORGIVENESS” it was time for me to face the music. That year I made a list of people I knew I needed to find forgiveness for. While I needed to make amends with some people in-person I knew that wouldn’t be possible with others, for various reasons.

The simple act of writing some of those names on a piece of paper was difficult.  But I committed the people on that list to God.  I prayerfully sought God’s will and timing and trusted that He would orchestrate these conversations.  I even asked for Him to reveal to me anyone I may have left off the list.

Recognizing that some people might not react well to hearing someone say “I forgive you, friend.” I trusted that God was working on their heart at the same time.  I knew that good things were getting ready to happen!

 

And, just like God likes to do, He brought one of those people into my path within a very short period of time.  There are no coincidences in life, right?!  One day I was out shopping and saw one of the people on my list across the store – and my normal instinct was to hide or put down my things and leave.  (In fact, that’s what I’d been doing for years.) But today was different. But my “word for the year” rang in my ear and I know I had to do something different.

Instead I said a quick prayer, and approached the person with a gentle spirit.  I smiled.  They smiled.  We hugged.  And God did a wonderful thing in the aisle of the store that day.  There were tears, and hugs and a reconciliation that I never could have imagined possible.  It was certainly not something I could have done without God’s grace in my life.

And there’s the primer for the rest of my story about my journey to forgiveness. I knew it was time to extend forgiveness to a long list of people who had deeply hurt me.  Those red hot coals of bitterness had been smoldering long enough … it was time to turn over the soil and extinguish them once and for all.

Join me as we explore where YOU might be on your journey to forgiveness?

A Call to Reconciliation

Have you read the book of Philemon?  It’s a half page towards the back of the Bible.  And while it’s a story of forgiveness – it doesn’t even mention the word.  Check it out.  You may have to look it up in the index to find it.  That’s ok… it’s worth it.

Here’s some background on the book.  This guy named Onesimus worked for this guy named Philemon.  Onesimus up and left one day, without telling Philemon.  Apparently this was bad as Onesimus also owed Philemon a debt.  Onesimus came upon the Apostle Paul in a jail and they chatted it up for a while – and Paul led Onesimus to Christ and talked to Onesimus about the importance of reconciliation.  Paul wrote a letter to Philemon explaining what had transformed in Onesimus’ life and asking Philemon to transfer the debit to Paul and accept Onesimus back into his life.    Paul then asked Onesimus to hand-deliver the letter to Philemon.  Can you imagine the reconciliation that took place that day?!

I have a personal story to share in line with this… when my parents’ pastor was made aware of my Campouts, Quicksand and Cesspools project he inquired if I would be willing to share a personal story ahead of his sermon this weekend.  It’s the weekend before Easter, and we are all being called to reconciliation with Christ … as I prayed over the following story I prayed that God’s people would truly take to heart the impact of reconciliation.

Can you envision what our churches would look like if we forgave each other of both minor and MAJOR offenses?  Can you imagine how much of an impact our testimonies could have on the rest of the world if we truly grasped this in EVERY area of our lives?

grace

I was raised in church and inwardly reconciled to God at a very young age.  However, my life chapter of outward reconciliation (meaning – truly extending forgiveness to others) picks up on about, oh….  page 542.  I sat in church on a Sunday morning and heard, for what felt like the very first time, the story of God’s mercy.  I was 39 years old at that point.  (What can I say?  I’m a late bloomer.)

In those moments I truly recognized the depth and vastness of God’s unconditional love for me IN SPITE of my imperfections.  As this soaked in it occurred to me that He asks us to love each other in the same way… that’s right, in spite of each other’s imperfections.

As Mark Batterson says, “Grace is the catalyst that turns guilt into gratitude.”  Over the next couple of weeks I processed this new revelation.  With this heart-knowledge I knew it was time to extend forgiveness to some people who had deeply hurt me.  Those red-hot coals of bitterness had been smoldering long enough … it was time to turn over the soil and extinguish them once and for all.

I’m a list person.  So what did I do?  I made a list of people I knew I needed to forgive.  Simply writing some of their names was difficult.  But I committed the people on that list to God.  I prayerfully sought God’s will and timing and trusted that He would orchestrate these conversations.  I even asked for Him to reveal to me anyone I left off the list.

Recognizing that some people might not react well to hearing someone say “I forgive you, friend.” I trusted that God was working on their heart at the same time.

I knew that good things were getting ready to happen!

And, just like God likes to do, He brought one of those people into my path within a very short period of time.  (Of course He did!  There are no coincidences in life, right?!)  One day I was out shopping and saw one of the people on my list across the store – and my instinct was to hide or put down my things and leave.  But instead I said a quick prayer, and approached the person with a gentle spirit.  I smiled.  They smiled.  We hugged.  And God did a wonderful thing in the aisle of the store that day.  There were tears, and hugs and a reconciliation that I never could have imagined possible.  It was certainly not something I could have done without God’s grace in my life.

 

And I shift back to the story in the book of Philemon.  Onesimus, once reconciled to God, was returning to Philemon with Paul’s letter in hand.  You see, Paul knew God was going to do a good work in the relationship between these two men.  Imagine the look on Philemon’s face as Onesimus approached him, letter in hand.  Trust me friends – no matter how deep the hurt and resentment, no matter how long the rift in the relationship… God can take those red-hot coals of bitterness and turn them into something better.

Pleased to announce …

Introducing my UPCOMING BOOK – Campouts, Quicksand, and Cesspools – A Journey through Life’s Messes  

 

I hope you will join me in the upcoming months as we take this journey together!  I am beyond thrilled to have finally found the words and emotions to openly share these lessons.

CQC cover idea

Introduction:  I know a lot of Christians who are really good at camping out in fields of hypocrisy, knowingly following their friends right into quicksand (and justifying their reasons for why) and even inviting their friends along with them into their own cesspools of junk … all while on their our journey to forgiveness.

Sometimes unintentionally, but sometimes we even set out to do so.  Stupidly, some of us actually wanted to get ourselves stuck.  We even wanted to take others down when we went – because having our friends join us in a pool of bitterness would make for a great party.  Right?!  (wink)

It has taken me an inordinate amount of time to learn these lessons: the meaning of unconditional love and His true gift of grace.  He has graciously set me free.  Thank you for the opportunity to tell you about the lifelong journey I’ve taken to get unstuck.  Parts of this journey even involved a number of u-turns.  Yours doesn’t have to take a lifetime.  There is hope in the journey when we abide in Him.

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Attention Fellow Bloggers:  If you would like the chance to offer a review of the book ahead of its official release date please leave a comment with your email address and we’ll be in touch!!!

To offer grace or whine… that is the question!

We all have these “friends” (and I use that word loosely):  the friends who complain about their friends to other friends.  They might even post the aforementioned rants on social media – these are called Vaguebook posts.  Vague in that if you’re reading it and wonder if they’re talking about you – they probably are.  They are brave enough to make you feel like crap as you sit there and wonder… but they clearly do not care enough about the friendship to come talk to you about the issue.

Instead they care about themselves only.  They want sympathy from others over a resolution to whatever it is they are whining about.  They don’t even realize the hurt, fear, disappointment they are bringing on the friends who are listening to that complaint.  I’ve seen parents do this on social media about their own kids/family members.  I’ve overheard individuals in a coffee shop chat it up about a friend who is not present.  I’ve even overheard people talking about me in this way.

Shoot, I’m not blameless.  I’ve done this as well.  I know how easy it is to slide down the slippery slope we mask by saying “I just want the best for that person” as we justify the treatment.  And in reality, some might even see this blog post as me being guilty of the same thing.

Ouch.  Let’s think on this today… 

cqc Eph4 31 32

So for our own edification here… let’s look at Job and his friends.

Job was being tested.  His life sucked.  Downright stunk!  And his attitude headed south in the midst of the storm.

A quick recap before we join in at a certain point of his life:  Job’s oxen were stolen and field hands killed, lightning struck and killed his sheep and shepherds, his camels were raided and the camel drivers killed, all of his children died when a tornado hit the house they were in and it collapsed, and then Job was struck with terrible sores. Job was covered in ulcers and scabs from head to foot. “They itched and oozed so badly that he took a piece of broken pottery to scrape himself, then went and sat on a trash heap, among the ashes.”  (Job 2:8)

 

What does this have to do with whining about others?  Stay with me.

 

Three of Job’s friends heard of all the trouble that had fallen on him. Each traveled from his own country—Eliphaz from Teman, Bildad from Shuhah, Zophar from Naamath—and went together to Job to keep him company and comfort him. When they first caught sight of him, they couldn’t believe what they saw—they hardly recognized him! They cried out in lament, ripped their robes, and dumped dirt on their heads as a sign of their grief. Then they sat with him on the ground. Seven days and nights they sat there without saying a word. They could see how rotten he felt, how deeply he was suffering.”  Job 2:11-13

They didn’t sit around and talk about him.  They went to him.  They treasured his friendship so much that they went out of their way for him… they traveled for God-knows-how-long on the backs of animals to get to their friend.  His friends sat with him in silence for a whole week!  His friends mourned with him.  His friends interceded for him.

And what does Job do?  He cries out to die.  He cursed the day he was born.

Now what do his friends do?  They cared enough about him as an individual that they encouraged him to focus on God’s promises.

They didn’t leave him.  They didn’t desert him and go to the local coffee shop and talk about what a quitter he was.  They called him on the carpet, in a loving way of course.

They were friends… by the true definition.

They offered grace.  What are we offering our loved ones?

 

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Introducing my UPCOMING BOOK – “Campouts, Quicksand, and Cesspools – A Journey through Life’s Messes”.  I hope you will join me in the upcoming months as we take this journey together!  I am beyond thrilled to have finally found the words and emotions to openly share these lessons.

CQC cover idea

Introduction:  I know a lot of Christians who are really good at camping out in fields of hypocrisy, knowingly following their friends right into quicksand (and justifying their reasons for why) and even inviting their friends along with them into their own cesspools of junk … all while on their our journey to forgiveness.

Sometimes unintentionally, but sometimes we even set out to do so.  Stupidly, some of us actually wanted to get ourselves stuck.  We even wanted to take others down when we went – because having our friends join us in a pool of bitterness would make for a great party.  Right?!  (wink)

It has taken me an inordinate amount of time to learn these lessons: the meaning of unconditional love and His true gift of grace.  He has graciously set me free.  Thank you for the opportunity to tell you about the lifelong journey I’ve taken to get unstuck.  Parts of this journey even involved a number of u-turns.  Yours doesn’t have to take a lifetime.  There is hope in the journey when we abide in Him.