That time I got cussed out at the grocery store

My trip to the grocery store began innocently enough. It was a busy time of day, right before supper, so the aisles were filled with shopping carts and kids as many parents tried to make a quick stop at the store. As the lone cash register lane got longer and longer, the woman behind me heard another line was opening up and asked me if I wanted to go first since I was next in line. I thanked her and made a beeline for the next available register.

It soon became apparent that no one was coming to open another register, and the kind woman behind me apologized and told me to come back and get my original spot in line. I had my three children with me and was eager to get home after a long day. As I began unloading my groceries on the original register, a third woman noisily began to berate the woman behind me for what she felt was cutting in line.

As a lifelong avoider of conflict at all costs, the stress level in me instantly began to rise. It was clear there was a misunderstanding, and I went out of my comfort zone to apologize to the angry woman and explain that the woman behind me had just moved out of line in order to let me back in.

It was then that expletives and harsh name calling began. Not toward me (or by me) but toward the original woman who had tried to help me. Things escalated from there, and my stress quickly turned to what I believe was righteous anger. It was as if things came into focus, and I saw the situation for what it really was. One human being felt it was OK to treat another human being like she was nothing more than a dirty piece of trash. In fact, that’s exactly what the first woman was called, just with more expletives. I knew I had to speak up.

“No. You cannot talk to her like that. She is a human being! She deserves to be treated with dignity! Her children are here, and my children are here, please do not speak like that. She was simply trying to help me.”

It was then that the angry woman turned on me. My children heard the venomous words spewed toward their mother and the first woman. I remained calm but was thankful a security guard stepped in and asked the woman to leave. My oldest daughter was visibly shaken and close to tears.

The entire front of the store observed the exchange. Heads were shaking as the woman left. We all tried to proceed with normalcy. But I could not shake the feeling that I needed to speak up again to the woman who had verbally been attacked. The woman tried very hard to contain her emotions, but I knew she couldn’t possibly be alright. Her face was covered in some kind of birthmark that no woman would want to look at in a mirror each day. She looked tired and haggard as she held one child in her arms. Her husband didn’t speak up or defend her. I turned back to face her and said, “I am so sorry that woman said those terrible things to you. They aren’t true. You are a human being created in the image of God and should not be spoken to like that. Thank you for helping me.”

We ended up walking out to the car behind her and her youngest child. I said “thank you” one more time as I pushed my cart of groceries and kids past her car. She turned to look at me, and I could see tears were streaming down her face.

Embracing the teachable moments

The kids and I quietly unloaded our groceries. When the doors were closed, I began to help our children process what had just happened.

“Why did I tell the angry woman to not speak like that to the woman who was trying to help me? Why is it not OK to treat another person like that?” It brought tears to my eyes to hear all three children answer, “Because they are made in the image of God.”

You see, lately, we have been trying to help our children, ages five, seven and nine, understand this very concept of being created in the image of God.

  • When our daughter uses her words to hurt our oldest son, we remind her that he is a human being created in the image of God. He deserves to be treated with dignity.
  • When our sons fight over a game or a toy, we remind them that their brother is more important than an inanimate object. Their brother is a human being, created in the image of God.
  • When we watch movies or shows that show a person being cruel or mean to another person, we point out that every human is created in the image of God and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.
  • When we’re around the dinner table, we sometimes talk about treating the elderly and those not yet born with the same kind of dignity that we should give to each other.

I believe this random altercation at the grocery story helped attach roots to these seeds of truth we’ve been trying to plant in our children. And it also became a teachable gospel moment. While my oldest accused the angry woman of acting like a five-year-old (and she was), I was able to talk about how I often act selfish and angry. “I am no better than that woman who was mean to the other woman. She needs Jesus to save her from her sins just like I do,” I told my children as we drove out of the parking lot. We all left the grocery store a little shaken, but I left with a deeper faith in the God who finds value in every human being created in his image.

I encourage you to use today—and every day—to teach your children about the dignity of all lives. It is a gospel issue. Teach them to see that all human beings are worthy of respect and all human beings are in need of the wonderful saving grace that comes from Jesus alone. It will change how your family interacts with others, how you speak to your children, and it will remind you of your own need of the gospel.

I originally posted this on ERLC.com. I am resharing it here on my blog in an effort to talk about what it means to be pro-life. Being pro-life means more than speaking up for the unborn. We MUST speak up for the unborn. Hear me say that. But we must also speak up for life as a whole. This woman in the grocery store was being treated like she wasn’t even human. This is not ok.

If you want to learn how to be a voice for life in your community, as well as participate in the annual March for Life in D.C, please consider joining me as I will be attending the Evangelicals for Life conference on Jan. 26-28, hosted by the ERLC and Focus on the Family. Speakers include Matt Chandler, Russell Moore, Eugene Cho and many others. Save 20% off your registration cost with this code: EFLJM

Being pro-life is more than a march

Next January, I get to participate in the annual March for Life for the first time ever. As an evangelical Christian who believes that all people are made in the image of God, I am definitely pro-life.

This will be a unique experience for me because I’ve never done something like this, but also because I get to represent the organization I work for on social media. If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time you know that I’m one of the biggest social media geeks out there. I’ve helped women use social media to start their own blog, I’ve written about why MLM people fail on social media and much more. So to do social media for an organization I love during an event I believe in, well, it’s kind of a dream come true!

The next few days I’m going to be writing about what I really think it means to be pro-life, because it IS more than just a march in Washington, D.C. It’s also more than standing up for the rights of the unborn as I hope you’ll see. Please follow along with me and tell me what it means to you to be pro-life!

evangelicals for life

If you are a follower of Jesus and you believe that all people, from the unborn to the elderly, have value and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, I highly encourage you to consider joining me in Washington, D.C next month. Evangelicals for Life is a conference that takes place ahead of the March for Life and it’s put on by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and Focus on the Family. You’ll be able to hear from Matt Chandler, Eugene Cho, Russell Moore, Albert Mohler, Kelly Rosati, and more. I can save you 20% off the cost of registration with this code: EFLJM. I would love to see you there! Register here.

3 reasons you need to love the heck out of your husband

IMG_7118I’ve been married to that hottie Jesse Masson for 11 years today. He wrote a post last night called 3 ways marriage doesn’t add up. And he’s right. Marriage makes no sense in so many ways. Two people commit to each other, usually in the prime of their life, when they both have their best bodies ever, and energy that never quits. Then they are told to grow old with each other, spend every day living in close proixmity to each other, and still treat other with love and kindness. (And never love another person other than their spouse like that, too!)

This week I’ve been studying Ephesians 5:21-33 (not planned, but hey, it was good timing.) This idea of mutual submission, the wife’s reverance for her husband and the husband’s sacrificial headship over the wife has been so good to wrestle through. Christ is the head of the Church and the Church submits to Christ. A great word picture, right? But then reality hits and you see that the Church is actually really prideful and not full of reverance for Christ.

Wives, when we look at the Church we probably see ourselves. We see how insecure, broken and messed up the Church is. In a way, I find comfort knowing that I’m not the only failure out there. The Church is a bruised and broken Bride that Christ willingly died for, despite all of her flaws. I’m bruised, broken and jacked up, too!

But your husbands . . . they have a different view when they look at their counter part in this word picture. Husbands look to Christ to see how they ought to love their wives and the standard is high. Very high.

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Jesus Christ, the son of God, left all that was comfortable in Heaven, and came to earth as a baby. He grew up as a capenter’s son, not in a palace. He went against the culture of the day and ministed to all walks of people: widows, prostitutes, crippled, children. And He was hated for it. Jesus willingly allowed himself to be arrested, tried and crucifed on the cross for people who despised Him and rejected His very existence. He rose from the grave 3 days later and it was a sign to all that this God was different than the false Gods being worshiped at the time. He was a God who would send His own perfect son to take the punishment we desreved as payment for our sin.

Who does that? Jesus did, and in Ephesians we see that God also calls husbands to love their wives with a love like this. Whoa. Do you feel that weight, wives? We are married to imperfect men who are trying to love us like Christ loves the church. And they will fail. So I want to give you 3 reasons why you need to put aside your own wants and love the heck out of your husband. He’s got a very high bar set for him and if you love him well, he may just be able to reach it.

1. Your husband is not as secure and confidant as you think he is. Men struggle with pride. I’m convinced it’s because they are constantly trying to prove to themselves and other men in their lives that they have what it takes to make it as a man in this world. That’s scary. Know that your husband needs your love and support more than your criticism and sarcasm.

2. Your husband is a sinner. Spoiler alert . . .  you married a sinner. He has temptations. He may (gasp) notice that other women are attractive. He may be impatient. He may be a bad communicator. He may want to look at pornography. He may not want to stay committed to you. He may not want to love you. At the root of all of this is selfishness. And you have this desease too. This year has been especially hard for our marriage and each time we’ve dealt with our own sin that has threatened to destroy our marriage, God has always reminded me to look back and remember my own sin. When I remember that I’m a sinner, it helps me have so much more grace when Jesse sins. I need his grace when I mess up. Extend grace to your husband. It will go far.

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3. Your husband will try and solve all of his problems on his own. And that’s just not possible. Your husband needs you. Your husband needs the Gospel. He needs to know that he’s not immortal, and he can’t fix every problem, every sin issue, anymore than he can change the weather. Your husband needs to be reminded that he is an imperfect man in need of a savior. When Jesse has been broken over his own sin and his need for the grace that only comes from accepting that Jesus’ death has covered his sins, he’s more humble. Show him the truth of the Gospel every day by extending him grace, being kind and patient with him even when he’s not with you, and for the love of Pete, please give that man a hug! And if your husband’s love language isn’t touch, find out what makes him feel loved and do that thing on days when he’s especially hard to love. It will take you far.

I’m no mariage expert. I’m still a rookie at this marriage thing after just 11 years. But after the year we’ve had I can tell you that selfishness will eat away at your marriage if you let it. Love your husband well so that he can love you like Christ loved the church, giving Himself up for her.

Read Jesse’s post on 3 ways marriage doesn’t add up here.

DON’T go big or go home.

I read an interesting article the other day entitled “Stop trying to save the world.” It’s a bit of a lengthy read but the premise was pretty profound. The author talks about how many Westerners desire to truly change the lives of others less fortunate than them. Wether it be a new water pump in Africa or textbooks in India, those of us from Western nations like to help. But we don’t just want to help one village. Oh no. We want to help ALL THE THINGS. We like big and flashy. We like efficient and fast results. Many social entrepreneurs are dreaming of when their organization will “blow up.”

Missions organizations and churches from the West aren’t always much different. We want results. That missionary living in Africa reported 50 new Christians and 20 baptisms. So what’s up with the guy in Munich who hasn’t reported a single new profession of faith? We don’t like hearing about the girl who has spent 3 years investing weekly into the same group of women, sharing about Jesus and praying daily for the Holy Spirit to change the hearts of those women. We like the sexy news of tons of people submitting their lives to Christ.

I’m going to be very transparent and say that I am the same way. I’ve learned a lot about myself during my self-imposed social media break these past few months. One is that I had a fixation on “becoming someone.” I couldn’t just be someone who understood and liked social media. I had to brand myself as an expert and make sure people knew I was an “expert.” I had to maintain the brand I was building. I had this mentality that I had to “go big or go home.” It’s the American way, isn’t it?

IMG_7384.JPGWhat would happen though if I cared less about making a little splash in a big pond and cared more about making a BIG splash in my little pond? This past month I’ve just stopped doing so much. Signing off of Facebook and Instagram has given me more time to invest into the people God has placed in my life. I have more to give to my family. I have more time to pray for the unbelievers in my life. I have more time to do the 2 “extra” things I do outside of my role as a wife and mom (work and serving at church).

These past two months I’ve realized that I DON’T want to be somebody. I just want to be faithful with what God has given me responsibility over. I cannot tell you how freeing this all has been. Don’t go big or go home. Go home, and go big.

 

Thank you all for being awesome!

renae with signFour weeks ago, our 7 year old fell from a tree in front of our house, and landed head first on the cement below. The immediate emergency room assessment was that it was a hairline fracture in her skull. We were told she should be just fine, but they did want to watch her very closely that first night and kept her in the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit). The next day, we were able to get a look at the actual head scan and saw that the “hairline” fracture was just a wee bit more than that! (At least, in our non medical opinions.) We knew it was a major fall, and a major injury. We couldn’t help but wonder why or how it wasn’t something far worse. (more…)

Starving my kids #ForTheMission

forthemissionTonight I did something a little different as I tucked my kids into bed. We’d been with others from Emmaus Church helping paint to get the building ready for the official launch in January. Well, we mostly stayed out of the way while the professionals painted. The kids were wound up by the time we came home so I decided that a story wouldn’t calm them down enough. Because I’m very much so a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of mom, I threw our regular routine out the window. Once the kids had decent smelling breath and were tucked away into bed, I turned off all the lights and we listened to some music.

First on our play list was “Try” by Colbie Caillat. I know, I know. Kind of random. But it’s a song we all like to sing along too (yes, even the boys) and it’s quiet and calming. I’ll admit I hope my 5 year old doesn’t pick up on the mantra of “you don’t have to try so hard” because he definitely does need to try harder at anything that involves effort. Ahh laziness. It starts early in some.

However, the song I really wanted them to hear before their eyes closed for the day was a song that moves me to tears every time I hear it. If you’re not a follower of Jesus, you probably have never heard it. If you are a follower of Jesus, then you are probably sick of this song by now. Chris Tomlin came out with the song, “How great is our God” sometime when I was in college. But in recent years, a new version of the song was released and it represents everything that I live for in life. Let me explain.

As a child, I think God was preparing me to understand His immense love for the nations of the earth. My first friends at church were Egyptian. (Hey Slyvia and Annie!) My first BFF at school was a cute Costa Rican girl. I pulled pranks on people with an exchange student from Australia in the 5th grade. In 6th grade I remember attending the birthday party for a girl from Nepal. I was pretty white bread middle class all through junior high and high school, but I could never stop thinking about the different language and cultures that existed. When I went to college, I lived on a co-ed international floor my 1st two years. One roommate was Korean and the other was from a small town in Iowa. We had a blast hanging out with kids on our floor from Norway, Switzerland, Malaysia, China, Dubai, Hong Kong, Syria, and Jordan. So in some ways, I wasn’t surprised that God sent me to Turkey after my sophomore year of college. I went because I finally understood that I wasn’t blessed just to be blessed. Turns out that God actually blessed the Israelites so they could be a blessing to the nations. God still blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others. In short, when I decided to follow Jesus, I decided to make my life about Him and His mission. My deep desire is that God will use me and my family to somehow be a part of what God is doing to tell people all over the world about Him and His plan to save them.

So tonight, the reason we listened to the new version of “How Great is Our God,” is because the new version is sung in part by people from different countries. I’m moved to worship when I hear this sung. As I sat in the rocking chair in our kids’ room I couldn’t help but raise my hands in worship (yes, us Jesus followers can be a bit strange) and thank God that one day there will be millions of voices singing songs of worship to God, all in their own languages. Or maybe not! I mean, who knows what we’ll be speaking in Heaven. The point is, one day, I’ll get to worship my King with people from every tribe, tongue and language.

I desperately want my children to understand this. I want them to know how much God loves people from different cultures. But how do I do this? We watch Families of the World videos when they are available from the public library. We live on a fairly diverse street. Jesse’s brother AND sister both live overseas. We pray for people from different countries. Are they getting it though?

This week, I’m trying something new. The International Mission Board (IMB) is an organization that sends out thousands of Jesus followers around the world to live and work amongst people who don’t know anything about Jesus. These people invest into their communities, build relationships and ask God to give them opportunities to speak about Him.  This week, my kids are going to skip a meal and give the money we would have spent to the IMB. (She drops the mic.) Before you report me to CPS, let me explain. I’m going to take my kids to the store tomorrow night and I’m going to let them pick out their favorite food to eat. I think I’ll even have them put it in the cart. But instead of buying it, we’re going to donate the money we would have spent and give it to the IMB so that more people can go tell others around the world about Jesus, and what He has done for them.

I honestly don’t know what they will think and to tell you the truth, I’m not really sure how I’ll explain the purpose to them in a way that helps them understand. But I do know that our conversation around the table tomorrow night will center around the reason we didn’t buy that food, and the God who loves us enough to let us be a part of His missions to tell the whole world about His love.

What about you? How do you teach your kids to care about taking the Gospel to the nations? What are some other ways you can “skip a meal” with kids and donate the cost of a meal to the IMB? I’d love to hear your ideas and I’d love it if you joined me on social media by using the hashtag #ForTheMission. You will find many others doing the same thing so don’t be shy, y’all!  In fact, to prove others are doing it, here is my friend Caleb Crider with his empty plate of food:

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Please consider joining me. imb.org/meal Or, text 4mission to 80888 and donate the $10 you would have spent on a meal!