Thursday, December 30, 2010

Put down the stone

I've been reading an inspirational fiction book about this Christian professor who has an affair with another man. Her sin is discovered by the college and she loses everything...her job, her dignity, her reputation, her husband, her children and her faith. Everyone around her is determined to pick up a stone and hurl it at this hurting woman. Everyone wants to focus on her sin and force her to pay for it for the rest of her life.

However, God intervenes in her life and it becomes a great story of redemption and grace, but it really got me thinking and evaluating my own thoughts and actions.

Why are we so quick to place judgement on certain sins? Why do we categorize sins into "the acceptable sins" and "the oh-my-gosh-you-are-a-terrible-person-sins?" How come we think we have the right to judge people based on our own interpretation of what sin is "too bad"?

I know I am quick to judge others, when I myself am no better than the worst of the worst. In God's eyes...sin is sin. We all are sinners, so why are we so quick to be the first to pick up a stone to throw at someone else?

God reminded me of a situation that perfectly illustrates this truth. Last summer we went on a trip to the beach with a few of our best friends. We stayed in a beautiful condo that we rented for the week.

We (being the females) discussed the laundry situation and agreed that we would all throw our towels in the washer, and when it got full, we would do a wash. Great idea right? They however, did not realize that I am the worst laundry buddy in the entire world. I can ruin anything in the wash. Leave it to me to destroy your favorite shirt. Want a new color for that crisp white tablecloth...just give it to me to launder and I'll turn it bright orange.

Long story short, I didn't get the memo that it was only for white towels, and my precious self threw in a brand new, neon colored beach towel. So much to my horror, I turned the entire condo's luscious white towels, hot pink, purple and red. Yes indeed, my hubby and I were looking at having to replace about $250.00 worth of towels because of my laundry ignorance. Let's just say this put a slight damper on our beach fun.

My amazing best friend came running to my rescue and did what any girl in their right mind would do...called her grandma for help. Her grandma gave an exact recipe concoction that she felt would remedy my Tye died blunder. After hours of working with the towels, and washing and soaking and spinning and rewashing. Kayce pulled out spotless, white as a pale snowman, towels. It is entirely possible that I shed a few tears upon seeing those white towels.

But here is the truth I believe God was trying to show me. It didn't matter if that some of the towels were just spotted with pinks and purples, or if they were saturated with every color of the rainbow...nope...they all came out whiter than snow. I couldn't determine which towels had only been splotched or which ones had been saturated. The bleach concoction had covered it all, big and small and everyone of those towels was brand new!

Just like God's grace and forgiveness. His mercy isn't limited to just getting out spots or small sins. No sir. His mercy and grace is sufficient for the completely covered in, rolled around, and plastered-with-color sins as well.

So I need to get off my high horse and realize that we are all in that washing machine together, we all are tainted and stained. But thank the good Lord, that we have the opportunity to be made new. I believe the Lord wants us to reach out to those covered in sin and encourage and strengthen those who have been caught up in the "big sins". We need to love those who are hurting and quit being so quick to judge. We are not better than anyone else, we all, at some point mess up royally. So why not be a help to the hurting...a support for the lost and weary...a light for those who are blinded by the darkness.

Lord, help me to be quick to love and slow to judge. Help me be a support for those wallowing in destruction...not a person who is quick to throw a stone and cast judgement.

Now excuse me while I go see if I can remove a pen stain from my new sweater!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas

My amazing husband went out and got me the most incredible camera ever for Christmas!!! I feel like such a professional with this camera! I cannot even mess up the pictures cause the camera is so awesome! Check out a few of these from our wonderful Christmas. We are so blessed to have such amazing families!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Giving Grace

As many of you know, I am a graphic designer. I design brochures, business cards, pamphlets, booklets, postcards and more. But the designing is just half of the process. I also have these items printed. I outsource my printing needs to different printers, some locally and some long distance. At Christmas time, I am extremely busy with corporate and personal cards. November and December are two of my busiest months of the year. Things get pretty hectic, mainly because everyone and their mama is getting cards printed, and they all need it finished by Christmas. So essentially, every one's deadline is the same. That creates madness.

Are you still with me? I promise this will eventually make sense. (I think)

Long story short, I did quite a few jobs for large companies in and around the Baton Rouge area. One company in particular decided to go with a mailing option (meaning the printing company prints and mails out the cards for them) Much to my horror, I received one of the cards and low and behold the message inside was upside down. I literally burst into tears. Here... this huge client had depended on me for getting a Christmas card mailed to all 300 of their clients, and I had screwed up. Well...not me technically, but ultimately my services to them had failed. I called the customer service at the printing company and was told there was a glitch in the system, causing their orders to be rotated 90 degrees...resulting in an upside down Christmas card.

I was livid. I know I am tiny...I know I am barely 5 ft tall... but let me tell you, I let that poor customer service rep have it. I was furious. Even Lexie, who was sitting on my lap, got up and went into the kitchen for fear of being thrown across the room!

How dare they give me a defective product. How dare they not check these things out. What the heck are they doing all day? Why weren't these mistakes caught BEFORE being mailed to 300 clients?

I got off the phone with the printing company and fearfully called my client, whose cards I had messed up. I was terrified. I had made mistakes in the past in business, but nothing like this.

I just knew I was gonna get it. I told my client what had happened and in tears, I waited for him to holler. I waited for him to scream. I waited for him to criticize me or go on about "How could you let this happen?"

You know what he said to me... He said, "Ashlee, take a deep breath. It's okay. I'm not worried. My clients will understand. Don't even worry about it." Much to my amazement he went on to show concern for if I was going to lose money on the deal.

Here he was, totally having just been told bad news for his business and clients, and he was worried about me and my welfare. I began to cry even more. He totally should have been angry or at least frustrated with me. But no, he was so gracious and kind in dealing with my mistake.

I was so shocked by his response. His graciousness was so astounding.

He will get his new cards delivered, and hopefully by next year we will both laugh at this crazy ordeal.

But in the meantime, he has reminded me of the power of grace. He displayed grace to me when I was undeserving. It is so much like our heavenly Father. He has time and time again given us abundant grace. He has every right to get angry, to zap us on the spot for our behaviours, but does He? No, instead He forgives, He loves and He encourages us. Then He goes above and beyond and blesses us.

I am so thankful for my client's display of grace, and for reminding me that I am so undeserving of God's grace. It also challenges me to begin to give more grace to others. What a true testimony of our commitment to Christ... if we can extend grace to others, even when they don't deserve it.

Ephesians 2:8-9
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas Cards and More!

Boy have things been busy! But I love this time of year because Christmas cards are so dang fun! I have been swamped with Christmas cards, birthday invites, shower invites, you name it...I've been working on it!
Here are a few of my favorites from the last few weeks! Enjoy!