Category Archives: Relationships

Shared Post:

Ah research…and reading. I came across this entry on Boundless.org this morning and felt the need to share with you as this is one desire (among many) that has been placed on my heart lately….it’s also something I’m currently learning. Enjoy!

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Posted by: Amy Seed – Jun 19, 2013 12:56 PM – Found here

As I made a batch of banana chocolate chip cookies a few nights ago, I started thinking about all the ways I can use my state of singleness to prepare for my future marriage.

There are different skills men and women bring to marriage. Relational skills add depth and speak volumes into marriages that practical skills cannot. And there are different aspects of character each need to work on in order to make marriage successful.

Men are expected to be spiritual leaders and should therefore make cultivating an attitude of spiritual leadership a priority. A husband’s job is to love his wife as Christ loves the church, and he does this through servant leadership. His duty is to ensure his decisions reflect his wife’s best interests and not his own selfish desires. This means he must learn to consider his wife’s input as much as his own.

Wives must learn to submit to their husbands as to the Lord. This means respecting any decisions he makes and encouraging him in faith. Wives should encourage their husbands to be active — not passive — leaders by honoring their leadership and forsaking any desire to usurp it. Women must also learn to think of their husbands before themselves and cultivate an attitude of helpfulness.

Marriage itself cultivates many of the attitudes required for a successful union as it refines our character to be more Christlike, but there are things we can do now to help prepare us for that giant commitment we’ll make someday.

The most important thing we can do for our future spouse is grow daily in Christ. We need to become people of Scripture and of prayer. In doing so, we will gain priceless wisdom and strength. With Christ as our solid foundation, we will be able to love and encourage our spouse in a selfless way.

For our future marriage to reflect Christ and His love for the church, we need to practice loving others with a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love. We need to cultivate attributes of patience, kindness and humility. We must learn how to put others before ourselves. We need to practice forgiveness daily and recognize that marriage is a lifelong union between two sinners.

For me, a big part of preparing myself for marriage is looking at my mom as an example of a godly wife and mother. There are practical skills I’ve learned from her over the years about managing a household, but I’ve also learned something by observing her character. She is always thinking of other people and their needs above her own.

She recognizes my dad as the head of the household. He asks for and considers her input, but ultimately, he makes the final decisions. My parents set an example for me of what it looks like to have a successful complementarian partnership in marriage where the husband is the head and the wife the helper.

What characteristics of husbands and wives do you think are crucial to a successful marriage? Share some things you are doing in your life now to prepare for marriage later.

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Please share your comments. I welcome any and all feedback!

Be blessed!

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my father’s daughter

Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God is giving you. Exodus 20.12

First, let me state that I am not a parent (yet) nor am I an expert on this matter. I’m simply a young adult who has formulated her opinions, insight and what-nots based on God’s Word and the world I see around me. That being said…

I am my father’s daughter.

No lie.

I inherited his mighty temper (granted, the red hair may have more to do with that than anything). His ability to be stubborn has most definitely been passed on. And I definitely find similar situations and things to be just as humorous as he does.

Indeed.

I am my father’s daughter.

Father’s Day was always a time when I would stop and reflect on the relationship I have with my earthly father as well as the one I have with God, my heavenly Father. It aslo was and is a time when I would take a moment to thank him and remind him that I loved him. I still do, but the manner in which I do has changed drastically from that when I was a child.

Growing up in and attending the local Christian school, I heard the whole “Honor your father and mother…” tidbit every day. It is an important theme throughout the Bible and the entire Old Testament is based on a patriarchal system.

Some fathers are easy to love; those that seem to be the terrific ideal every child wanted. Others are harder to love. They may not have been dependable. They may have left when you were young. Perhaps they were in the home, but not there at the same time.

Mine fell into both categories. After all, he is only human. Regardless of his faults, God calls me to honor him by loving him and respecting him. It’s not only the right thing to do; this commandment also holds with it the promise of having a long life. That is one promise I’ve discovered that I want to stand on and it (along with God’s guidance) has helped me overcome the days when honoring my dad wasn’t so easy.

My teenage years were filled with yelling matches, massive amounts of miscommunication and a lack of attendance at school/sports events. Honestly, there were moments when I didn’t feel I mattered. Now – most of you know that I’m a huge advocate for Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages – since I’ve read that book, my relationsihp with my dad has changed. Then again, I’ve become the type to focus more on love and grace than their opposites.

Chapman writes about the different love languages and the way each one affects the person who speaks them. I was blessed with a living example on how to speak all five (words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, gifts, and acts of service), but three of them truly speak to me and any one of those three could mean more at any given moment.

I’ve discovered my dad’s and I’ve been learning to speak his as well as mine, hoping God will speak it into his heart. I’ve definitely been tested in this process and I’ve learned that patience is a virtue worth striving for.

It’s now 2013. More than a decade has passed since the last of my teenage years spent at home. My rebellious streak is over…well, one could only hope [*wink] and with the fact that I’ve matured some since, it’s safe to say that our relationship isn’t what it used to be and for that, I am thankful.  

God, my heavenly Father – the only One who will never let me down – reached into my life at the tender age of 18 (again) and grabbed hold of my heart, showing me that He had never to let go, and taught me what it means to love the way He does (see yesterday’s post [here] for more on that).  I will forever be grateful for what He’s taught me and continues to teach me on a daily basis.

The world we live in has a twisted view of love. Hollywood spins their friends-with-benefits and drop-it-like-it’s-hot tales. Disney portrays the “happily ever after” stuff little girls dream about (by the way – “Happily Ever After” is possible…just not in the way the world thinks).  No one talks about what happens after the wedding or after the guy gets the girl. Even the love portrayed between friends is twisted and cruel in this “what’s-in-it-for-me” and “give-it-to-me-quick” society.

God’s love is unconditional. God’s love is deep, wide, long and strong…more than we can even begin to comprehend. Growing up, I’m sorry to say that the love I had for my parents was conditional. I believed that my life was all about me. Me this. Me that. Me. Me. Me. I. I. I.

Enough said.

Having had my heart torn apart, battered, cracked – you name it – God, in His amazingly unconditional love, reached in and helped me put the pieces back together again. Granted, there were a few times when He had to re-break a few things so it would heal the right way, but that pain…worth it.

In the last five years of my life, God has taught me what it means to love and to extend grace to those around me. I tell my dad I love him every chance I get and to hear those words said back to me: huge benefit! I don’t credit him with that. I can’t. All the credit goes to God…a heavenly Father I have chosen to honor…day in and day out…in spite of my humanity.  

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in being blessed with an earthly father, it’s that I have an endless, desperate need for Jesus. See musical inspiration from two of my favorite artists (Shane and Shane) here.

I may be my earthly father’s daughter.

But

By the grace of God Almighty

I’m also His.

I can proudly state that I am my Father’s daughter.

That being said, Dad (and all other dads out there) – these are for you:

Dear Dad,

My how the years have passed since you first took hold of me in your arms for the first time. A lot has changed since then, and not just my size.

Since Father’s Day is all about showing appreciation to our fathers, I wanted to reminisce a little on some old memories and appreciate you for all that you’ve done in my life.

I’m simply doing what I used to do when I still lived at home. I used to write you letters during special days and days in which things weren’t going so well. But today…

Today, I wanted to let you know that I love you and that I’m grateful God chose to bless me with you as my Dad.

When I was a child, I admired everything you did and attempted to mirror your actions. I remember piggy back rides through the fairgrounds and our evening rides on your Harley when I was four. There are times when I miss those days. Everything was simpler and time stood still.

You also set your goals high and did everything in your power to accomplish them. I look up to you for that. You’ve also always marched to the beat of your own drum, not bending to the ways of the world around us. God has moved you in ways you probably haven’t noticed or understand just yet, but I wanted you to know that I see His movement in your life and that’s exciting.

I also admire you for having the strength to stick with it when it seemed the world was against us. I know I probably didn’t honor you the way I should have when I was a teenager and for that I’m sorry. Forgive me? However, I will forever be grateful for the turn our relationship has taken.

I’ve been blessed to have you and Mom and the relationship we share. You play an important role in keeping our family together. It takes teamwork and hard work. You taught me that. We never went hungry and always had a roof over our heads. When we had little, the choice to give instead during the holidays will always resonate in my heart. Those years were the best.

You motivate me to do my best, to work hard and to have a little fun while doing so. Life isn’t always sunshine and moonbeams and during the time when it’s raining, all one has to do is shine a little light to find a few rainbows.

Thank you for setting that example.

Thank you for everything you’ve done for me.

I love you.

Your first-born daughter,

A.

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To my Abba,

What a day! A day to remember Who has taught me, guided me and instilled wisdom in me my entire life. You have promised countless times that you love me. You have promised countless times that You will never leave me. You even went so far as to show me how much You love me by sending Your only Son, Jesus. Can I ask for anything else? Of course I can, I always do. James reads: “ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking” (James 1.5b). Your Son, Jesus, even stated, “You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father” (John 14.13). As any good father would do, You do what You feel is right in whether or not I should get what I ask for. It all comes down to the matter of my heart, which only You can see. What a terrifyingly beautiful thought!

I hope to one day be half the type of parent You’ve been to me. I hope that when my kids (if that be in Your plan for my life) need something, I’ll be there for them as You have been for me. I hope that when they have questions, that I’ll have the answers You’ve so freely given and that if I don’t, I’ll seek those answers in You. I hope that when they are going through good times or bad times that I’ll be there for them, just as You have always been there for me.

So I end this letter by saying thank you with a joyful heart for being my Father, in all ways, and by writing that I’ve been very blessed by being one of Your adopted children. Thank you for extending Your grace to ALL of the human race. Furthermore, I want to thank you for Your undivided attention even though You have countless children.

Happy Father’s Day (today, tomorrow and all the days to come)!

Love – Your Daughter

five key truths about relationships

I stumbled on this during my morning devotional time this morning and thought I’d share it with you, the audience that God has seen fit to give. You will also find my comments between the [brackets] below. Enjoy!

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More to be RELATIONSHIPS: five key truths about relationships

We all desire healthy, meaningful, satisfying relationships with others.

We ultimately want to get along with friends, without all the drama. We want to feel loved by a special someone – a best friend now, a boyfriend at some point, hopefully a husband one day, and even through having children. We want to know that we are unconditionally loved by our parents and siblings, even when we experience a less than perfect life. We want to feel connected to others, as somehow that connection influences our sense of worth and creates a place for us to belong.

[…that is so true on so many levels…]

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” Genesis 1.26 NLT

Our longings for authentic and meaningful relationships are normal because that is the way we were designed. God made us to be loved, by Him and by others, and to be connected in life-giving relationships. The problems we face in our relationships are both a result of sin and unrealistic expectations [thank you Hollywood!] of others, or of God. Our culture has perpetuated the idea that we need others to validate our lives and define our worth. On the contrary!

Our worth is defined by who we are in Christ, and our relationships are designed to glorify God through how we serve one another.

If we’ve fallen into a pattern of defining our lives by our relationships, we’ll find ourselves truly disappointed and frustrated [TRUTH]. A boyfriend cannot be a public stamp of approval, indicating, “I am loved.” A spouse ought not to be a security blanket. Parents cannot become a means to an end. Relationships cannot be about making us happy, validated, or feeling valued. This is not at all what God intended.

God designed us for a personal relationship with Him through faith in Jesus Christ, and from the overflow of that relationship, we are made to pour out His love on others (Philippians 1.9, 1 Thessalonians 3.3).

And may the Lord make you love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows. 1 Thessalonians 3.12 NLT

TRUTH #1: CRAVE

We crave relationships because we’re made by a relational God and are wired for deep, unconditional love.

Long before [God] laid down earth’s foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love. Long, long ago, He decided to adopt us into His family through Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1.3-14

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13.14

From the very beginning of creation, God made us to be in relationships – with Him, first and foremost, and with others. Even so, the word relationship can’t even be found in the original Hebrew or Greek Scriptures. Only in modern translations, such as The Message, can you search for the word relationship and find a handful of key verses to meditate upon.

What you do find, however, as you look at the Scriptures, are references to the essence of relationships built on love, serving, worshiping, praying, and working together. This is reflected first and foremost in the God-head. In Genesis 1.26, the Creator refers to Himself in the plural: us. This “us” refers to what Christians call the Trinity, made up of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Although not states in the Scriptures as the Trinity, the reference is found in the Schema (Deuteronomy 6.4), where God is referred to as One, and later in the New Testament (Matthew 28.19 and 2 Corinthians 3.14), where He is named in three parts. Each part of the God-head fulfills a different purpose, but they are designed to work together, in relationship!

  1. God the Father is Creator of the universe and Father of all humankind.
  2. Jesus, present in the God-head before He ever walked this earth, is our Redeemer and Savior. As fully God and fully man, Jesus was sent by God to save His people from their sin.
  3. The Holy Spirit is the third party of the trinity. When Jesus departed this earth, He did not leave us alone, but gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit as our counselor and guide. The Holy Spirit dwells within each believer, drawing upon our knowledge of the Word to lead us in life and faith actions.

If we studied the Trinity closely throughout the Scriptures, we would find such beauty in the roles each part plays for the purpose of the whole. In the same way, we can look at humankind and see a similar pattern of need, purpose, and design. It is no wonder we long for connection built on sincere love. God created us this way!

TRUTH #2: CREATED

We were created to be in a personal intimate relationship with God, first and foremost, through faith in His Son Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in Him, and He in us: He’s given us life from His life, from His very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent His Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God. 1 John 4.3-16 MSG

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.” Genesis 1.26 NLT

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable helper for him.” Genesis 2.18 NIV

Within the God-head there is an inherent three-way relationship, but the design for relationships doesn’t begin and end there.

God longs to connect with His people, but this is only possible through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Yes, there is only one way to have an intimate relationship with God the Father, and that is through the Savior (Romans 10.9-10). This relationship cannot come through another human being, such as a pastor or priest. It must come through faith in Christ alone by confessing with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believing in your hearth that He saves you from your sin.

Long before [God] laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love. Long, long ago He decided to adopt us into His family through Jesus. Ephesians 13-14 MSG

Simply put, we need a Savior. We’re a messy people marked by our flesh-driven sin. We disobey God naturally, and could never meet His holy standard within our own efforts. God is absolutely perfect, holy, and unmarked by sin, and can only be in relationship with a holy people. This is why He provided the one and only perfect sacrifice, His Son, Jesus Christ, on our behalf so that we may approach Him as we are and be intimately connected in a right relationship with God.

When Christ died on the cross, He became the covering over us. God sees us through His Son. We don’t have to become perfect and blameless in order to be able to approach God. We are already acceptable to Him because Jesus fills the gap with His perfect, holy grace. Yet because of our love for our Father, we must living putting off sin and not indulging it. Jesus isn’t our free-for-all ticket to disobedience. There are consequences for our sin, including separation from God and His discipline. But there is also His grace and mercy, received through forgiveness that sets us on a new path and redeemed relationship with God as well as others.

TRUTH #3: Community

We were made to live in life-giving relationships with others for our mutual benefit and God’s glory.

In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as part of His body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s go ahead and be what we were made to be… Romans 12.5+10 MSG

As a prison of the Lord, I beg you to live in a way that is worthy of the people God has chosen to be His own. Always be humble and gentle. Patiently put up with each other and love each other. Try your best to let God’s Sprit keep your hearts united. Do this by living at peace. All of you are part of the same body. There is only one Spirit of God, just as you were given one hope when you were chosen to be God’s people. We have only one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. Ephesians 4.1-5 MSG

Accepting Christ as Lord is key to experiencing transformed relationships. When Jesus dwells within our heart and soul, our desperate need to be loved on a human level becomes less vital. That’s not to say we should live without human relationships. On the contrary, by God’s design, we do need one another.

We are called to live as the hands and feet of Christ. Every human being should be physically and practically loved by another, because God first loved us through Jesus.

When God fills us with His love, we cannot help but overflow His love onto others. When we fall into stride with this pattern of having our needs met by God first, our expectations of others shifts dramatically and what we offer them in return comes into a realistic perspective. The burden to fix and solve other problems, which is a great strain on relationships, is lessened while our ability to give from the overflow in our life becomes possible. This truth applies in all of the relationships we may experience in our lifetime (Philippians 1.9; 1 Thessalonians 3.3).

  1. Relationship between a husband and wife
    God’s design for relationships isn’t limited to being connected with Him. He’s also passionate about us being in a relationship male to female. Likely, you can testify to this as you [may] experience a strong desire to be in a relationship with a guy…This desire is good! It is the way God made you, even if the timing to act on those feelings has not yet arrived.
    Right from the beginning, God not only made man, He also made woman. In Genesis, the Word reveals that even with all the animals and an incredible opportunity to walk with God Himself, the Lord did not find a sufficient match for man. So He made woman. Out of Adam came Eve, not to replace him, boss him or cater to him. The Creator of the Universe designed man and woman together to make a complete whole. One for the other. Together, two were much better than one (Genesis 2.18, 21-24).
    The New Testament teachings reflect this design in the union of marriage where a man and woman have ultimate intimacy – physically, emotionally and spiritually – under the headship of Christ.
    And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides as good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband. Ephesians 5.29-33 MSG
    A marriage isn’t only made up of a husband and a wife. In a Christian marriage, the relationship comes under the headship of Christ. In that regard, a marriage is a chord of three strands, strong because of the individual relationships with Christ. While a marriage can exist apart from Christ, two believers coming together in a marriage is how God designed it to exist.
    It is critically important to mention that in God’s eyes, according to Scripture, a marriage is not between two people of the same gender. There are no examples in Scripture of this type of relationship meeting the qualification of marriage or as God’s design. I know, personally, that this is a difficult, tender and challenging matter to understand. If you disagree with me, you are not alone. However, there are a few key references that describe a same-sex relationship as sinful (Leviticus 18.22, 1 Corinthians 6.9, 1 Timothy 1.10) in much of the same way that committing adultery, theft, greed and idolatry are also sin. The reality is that we are all tempted with some type of sin, and often daily! Will some people struggle with same-sex attraction? Yes! Absolutely! Is it wrong to have feelings toward sinful behavior? No. But is it a bad decision to act on those temptations which the Bible tells us to turn from? Yes. We can all agree that we struggle with sin – the desire to things that are against God’s design and considered disobedience. But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean we should make it acceptable.

    Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy. Hebrews 12.14

  2. Relationships between parents, children and siblings
    As you read along in Genesis, you’ll see that God not only brought Adam a helper in Eve, but that He specifically called them to be fruitful and multiply. He saw this human relationship as something good and deemed it a worthy pursuit to create more little humans frolicking around Adam and Eve’s legs (Genesis 1.28).
    The family unit is critical to God’s design and is supposed to be a source of relationship satisfaction. But, in the same way sin has tarnished the marital relationship, it has also left its mark on the family unit. We see this in terms of divorce, abuse and betrayal in so many family units. Only God’s love, grace and forgiveness can bring about true healing and the ability to move forward in emotional and spiritual health after the effects of sin has left its mark on a family.
  3. Relationships within the family of God
    Not only did God create relationships within a marriage and family to be beneficial to the individual, He also designed the family of God, at large, to come together under the headship of Christ; all working together for the common good and His glory. The New Testament description of the body of Christ describes each person as an important, critical part not meant to stand alone. Together, each member is intended to bring their gifts, talents, personality, and perspective to be used for the mutual good of the family of God (Romans 12.5-10). The reason we don’t see this happening in the family of God is a result of sin, once again [big surprise there…]. The enemy of God worms His way into our relationships, bringing havoc on the body of Christ through petty conflict and deeply painful experiences. No matter what, however, we are called to live in peace together, if at all possible, and strive for unity. This means we daily need to walk humbly and acknowledge the forgiveness that is made ours through Christ so that offenses do not fester into infected wounds (Hebrews 12.14).
    Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3.13
  4. Relationships with non-believers
    No matter where we stand in our father, whether a new believer or a seasoned Christian, we will find ourselves in relationships with people who don’t share our beliefs and might even find them offensive. Regardless of whether these people are family members, friends or strangers, we are called to be gentle, kind and humble as well as to seek opportunities to share the love of Christ and the Truth, both through actions and words. Sometimes meeting a practical need will be a far greater relationship builder than handing them Bible verses to share the Gospel message. Be prayerful, seeking God for the opportunities to do both!
    What we give in these relationships should be a reflection of what we have received from Christ. We’ve been forgiven, so we should forgive. We’ve been extended grace, so we should extend grace. This is true for all our relationships.
    However, in relationships with non-believers, our expectations and needs must radically shift from how engage with Christians. We cannot expect a Christ-like response from them because they have no personally experienced Christ. Nor should we pursue a deep connection because our core beliefs will not line up and their counsel, support and encouragement would like be inconsistent with Scripture. While the relationship can be very meaningful, the role we play in the relationship and our expectations need to keep in mind the warning in Scripture not to be yoked, or bonded, together with an unbeliever (2 Corinthians 6.14-15 NIV/NLT).

TRUTH #4: Challenges

We will face challenges in our relationships because of sin, but in Christ, we can find the path of redemption.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3.23

Make every effort to live in peace with all [people] and to be holy. Hebrews 12.14

If God is so into relationships, why is everything so messed up?

Why is every man not married to a woman?

Why is our culture convinced that homosexual relationships are acceptable?

Why is there infertility?

Why do parents walk out on their families?

Why do dads and moms hurt their kids?

Why is there such division and hurt within the church?

Because of sin.

Eve was deceived by the Serpent and Adam followed suit. Together, they broke God’s command not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and in doing so, sin was introduced in this world (Genesis 2, 3).

Yet, if you’re like me, this still doesn’t make sense.

Why didn’t God make a world without sin?

I don’t know.

But what I can attest to is that God’s original design has fallen short of what He intended for this world. But God is still God. He is still on the throne in the face of sin and pain and hurts and disappointments.

And in His mercy, He provided Jesus Christ and the promise of eternal life, where there is no sin, no tears, no pain, nor death (Revelation 21.4). [Isn’t that great?!]

I often think that God could have done it differently, but what would be the outcome then?

He could have made us to never sin, but where would that leave us? [No free will.] Would we be robots programmed to love and obey? Sure, God would have designed us to worship and adore Him, walking in His ways all the days of our life.

But would you like being told who you must love?

Would you like me requiring someone to love you?

Oh, no!

The preciousness of love is that it is not required, but can be freely given.

But love is messy because it has been tarnished by sin.

Regardless of what you think God should have done, we live in a fallen world, where the desires of the flesh often trump the character of the heart.

You’ve been hurt by those who ought to have protected and cared for you. People will fail you. Words will be carelessly misspoken. Accidents will happen. Betrayal will likely mark your life at some point. Trust will be broken.

Yet this doesn’t keep us from longing for satisfying earthly relationships where we are loved, appreciated, cared for, remembered, acknowledged and received. In some cases, we will experience these gifts, but often only when both people in the relationship are striving to the Cross with a commitment to live consistently with [God’s Word]. Yet this doesn’t preclude challenges and offenses. What it does mean is that reconciliation is possible through humility and forgiveness.

The challenges we face in our sin-effected relationships have much to do with our unrealistic expectations. We turn to fallen human beings to love us with God-sized ability. Instead, we need to turn to God for His fulfilling love, and turn to others in grace receiving whatever they have to offer.

Is this hard to do? Yes! It takes time and maturity, often, to recognize God’s tangible love and to feel His physical presence n our lives. This experience of His love often comes through a shift in perspective, drawn from a willingness to live according to the Word rather than emotions or feelings. It is really a matter of focus, setting your mind and heart on the things of God and His economy principles while releasing family, friends and others from filling the God-sized hole in your heart.

Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived. Galatians 6.1-3 MSG

TRUTH #5: Correct

We can improve our relationships by correcting our thinking as we implement boundaries and apply the instructions found in the World.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Romans 12.2 NLT

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the lord forgave you.  Colossians 3.13 NLT

We established the fact that we crave relationships because that is how we were designed. We’ve also acknowledged that God’s perfect design has been marked by sin. So where does that leave us in terms of navigating through all the relationships we will have in our lifetime?

  1. Consider your reality
    Healthy relationships are grown through healthy thinking because our thoughts determine how we feel and how we feel determines how we act and respond. Therefore, the first step in moving forward is to take an inventory, or sorts, looking at the type of relationships you have in your life and assessing where they stand in terms of emotional and spiritual health.
    ~ Consider how you interact with your family and friends and evaluate if they are marked by signs of love, respect, consideration and honor. Or do you see signs of mistrust, disrespect, unforgiveness and/or betrayal?
    ~ Also look at your own heart. Consider what you are looking for in terms of friendship and family commitment. Ask yourself if you are seeking to have your emotional needs met in an unhealthy way.
    Once you get a sense of what your relationships look like and what needs you are longing to have met, seek out the Lord in prayer and give it all to Him. You might also need to take a bold step in trusting a godly mentor with your struggles or even make an appointment to talk with a Christian counselor. Relationship issues are tough and multi-layered and often require the help of a trustworthy adult or professional to move forward.
  2. Implement boundaries
    Proverbs 4.23 teaches that we must guard our hearts for it is the well spring of our life. This means we not only need to be aware of the reality of our relationships and emotional/spiritual needs, but we need to put boundaries in place to protect our hearts from unnecessary pain. It is not wrong to put some physical space and time limitations in place for relationships that are a negative influence on you, especially if these relationships exist outside your family unit. In the same way, a fence marks off a piece of property and a lock on a front door prevents intruders, you life – spiritual, emotional, and physical – needs to have clear boundaries in place for your own protection. [I’m beginning to understand this all too well.]
  3. Apply the Word
    Ultimately, our relationships will change if our thinking about how to engage with others comes from the instructions found in Scripture. The Word is loaded with practical directions on how to cultivate healthy relationships. The letters written by Paul to the churches (Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians) are steeped in practical application for he was speaking to the body of Christ facing the challenge of living in community together. He urges the believers to be forgiving, compassionate and patient with one another. James is also a great portion of Scripture filled with insights on how to press on together in a trial, manager anger and listen attentively.

Relationships are hard but they are also worth the effort. [Very true…]

God designed us one for another, and most importantly, to be in a relationship with Him through faith in Jesus.

By getting right with God first and lining up your thinking with His Truth, you’ll have the ability to navigate relationships with grace and humility. When your relationship with the Lord is in a healthy place, your other relationships will have a whole new purpose, potential and perspective. Challenges will come, but with correct thinking, you’ll be able to solve issues with a measure of peace and grace. And most importantly, in Christ, you’ll be able to walk the path of forgiveness because you have been forgiven.

Relationships are worth it. Put in the time and energy to learn how to do it God’s way. You’ll not be disappointed, especially as you see Him transform your life from the inside out.

For further study…
Genesis 1.26, 28 NLT
Deuteronomy 6.4
Matthew 28.19
Romans 3.21-26 CEV
Ephesians 1.3-14 MSG
Ephesians 5.5-33 NLT
Genesis 2.18, 21-24 NLT
James 1.19-25
Romans 12.5-10 MSG
Matthew 22.37-39 CEV
1 Corinthians 13 MSG
Ephesians 4.31-32 MSG
2 Corinthians 12.15-16 NIV/NLT
Colossians 3
2 Corinthians 10.3-5 NIV
Micah 6.8
John 7.38
Philippians 1.9
1 Thessalonians 3.3

**Copyright: @2012 all rights reserved by elisa pulliam |www.moretobe.com | more@moretobe.com Experiencing Life: Transformed

for a most beloved sister on her wedding day

Let’s face it. Writing any speech is hard. But, writing one for your sister’s big day? Definitely.

I’d been working on the thing for weeks. I’d start it, write a line (okay, maybe two), and end up wadding up the yellow legal paper because I didn’t like the way it flowed and toss it towards the non-existent trash can in my living room. Ever the perfectionist, not only was I making a mess in my apartment (which, secretly, drives me nuts), I was hitting road block after road block. This speech had to be the best thing since sliced bread. Flawless. Epic, really.

The idealist in me demanded romance and perfection, with enough humor to captivate the audience (her guests) and keep the new husband and wife from falling asleep at the head table. I didn’t want something generic, something cut, pasted and dried from someone else’s idea. I wanted it to be genuine. Real. Us – my sister and me. Adding Jordan would be a bonus. If only I could get it right.

When writer’s block started to affect my ability to think straight, I put the entire project aside for two weeks, attempting to write the week of the wedding. Actually, it was the day I planned to leave town and make the 3.5 hour trip back home that I picked up that legal pad, tuned into YouTube for some much needed inspiration and started writing again. After weeping like a sad sap over a few sappy speeches online, it struck me…like a dream from long ago. I questioned whether Ashley would even remember the moment…when she won the battle between Ariel and Belle, two Disney princesses that profoundly shaped our childhood. I’ll get back to that in a moment.

Writing any speech is hard. Writing one for your sister’s wedding…very.

This was a day we had both talked and dreamt about since we were kids. We used to pour over sketches and ideas for Barbie’s big day (went through several of those…I swear, the poor gal got married every five minutes) and watch with starry-eyed wonder as Ariel pledged her love to Eric/Belle to the Beast on Saturday afternoons.

Writing any speech is hard. Writing one for your sister’s wedding…very.

Yes, I know I’m repeating myself, but can I drive that fact home? Writing something that will last only five minutes, but encompasses your relationship to both bride and the group, passions, dreams, and childhoods is super hard.

Trying to get through said speech without shedding a tear, never mind turning into a blubbering idiot is impossible. For me, at least. For someone who had shut the waterworks off for years, I’ve turned into a sap. I cry over anything that the touches my heart and soul – sappy movies, sappy books – I am definitely not immune to sappy speeches.

So, since I’ve been there and done that, I figured I’d offer a little advice for those seeking inspiration on the topic at hand and to share the speech I gave on my little sister’s special day.

  1. Take time to jot down a few notes or write out an entire speech beforehand. I don’t care if you’re the type to fly by the seat of your pants or oober-organized like me. The day of is crazy-busy and having something prepared/on hand is always a plus.
  2. At the very minimum, include a favorite memory, funny story, something sweet or words of advice and end it with a toast. It’s usually best to steer clear of inside jokes that no one will get.
  3. Keep the focus on the bride and the groom.
  4. Speak from your heart. Your sister wants to hear from you…not words from someone else’s experience.

If you were there, you probably remember my inability to make it through the first paragraph and my sister standing to give me a hug before I was even finished. Thank goodness for Kleenex, family and hugs.

For the Gorgeous Bride, My Beloved Little Sister, on Her Wedding Day 

 

For those of you who don’t know, Ashley is my beloved and most favorite little sister. And, Snoopy, thank you for asking me to be your maid of honor. This morning you said I’ve blessed you, but you have no idea how much of a blessing you’ve been to me.

What can I say about Ashley that most of you don’t already know? She’s not just my sister; she’s one of my best friends. She’s the kind of person who sees humor in many situations and her unexpected wit will have you laughing in no time. She’s one of the few who has always been there to listen to me rant and rave about everything and nothing. She’s beautiful inside and out. I am so blessed and grateful to be her sister.

Seems like yesterday that we were redecorating Barbie’s playhouse, planning her absolute last wedding, sharing secrets and laughing over nothing in particular. Oh wait, that was yesterday.

I remember debating over who made the better mermaid and, until Disney’s Beauty and the Beast came out, I thought I had won that one. Upon seeing Belle wander the streets of her “little town, full of little people” with her nose stuck in her book, you stubbornly stood in the middle of the living room with your little hands on your hips and that look on your face and said, “There. There’s you.”

Personally, I still think I’d make a better Aril than you, red hair and all, but I digress.

Thinking back to singing “Part of Your World” with you when we were kids, I see now that you’ve found a man whose world you’re now a part of and vice versa.

After Jordan proposed and I had reminded her about those extravagant plans we had made with Barbie and Ken when we were kids, she said that she had changed her mind and wanted a simple, intimate and elegant wedding. She told me she wanted it to be more about the love that she and Jordan share, not about the most expensive dress she could find or the elaborate decorations covering the altar and aisle. By the way, I know you’ve heard it a thousand times today, but Ashley, you truly look stunning and Jordan is a very lucky man.

Jordan…You’ve become an integral part of our family’s system in the last year. It was easy to consider you a part of our group before you even started dating my sister. I’ve watched you grow in your faith and in your love for my sister. You are becoming an amazing man of God. I’m so proud of you and it’s an honor to officially call you brother.

Like all things in life, you get out of a marriage what you put into it. You’ve built your relationship on the most solid of foundations that is Christ and this is the beginning of your own happily ever after. This is also when the real work begins. All the little every day things add up to a lifetime of happiness through both the good and the bad. Congratulations, Ashley and Jordan! Join me in toasting them – I wish you happiness, more love than you’ll know what to do with, and may God bless you in giving you a marriage more beautiful than your wedding.

I love you.

Article: 5 Things Single People Wish Married People Knew

I was browsing through my email this morning when I stumbled across this article published in Relevant magazine. Honestly, I couldn’t agree more. Yes…there are times when I will feel like a third or fifth wheel, but that is my own doing. (Granted, some actions/situations do not help, but don’t think about it. Just be.) No one else can make me feel inferior…I choose what I feel. That’s the beauty of it.

So, please, married friends, siblings and distant relatives, make note of this – not just for me, but for all of your single friends and make the choice to bless rather than exclude.

The article, if you’d like to read more, can be found here.

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“As I weathered Valentine’s Day this month (again) as a single woman, I’ve been thinking about some of the things I’d like to say to my married friends about what it’s like to be unmarried at 36 and living alone in a married person’s world.

First of all, I’m very happy when I see my friends enter into and build healthy, happy marriages. This is a beautiful thing, something to which, many of us as single individuals aspire to.

And I understand that it can be difficult to know what to say or how to treat those of us who have not yet gone to the chapel. So as I reflect on my station in life, especially as it relates to the empty fourth finger on my left hand and the desire I have for marriage, there’s a few things I’d like my married friends out there to know. Not to guilt you or chastise you, but to help you, like you help me, see life from a different point of view.

It’s up to me to decide if I’m going to feel like a third or fifth wheel, or enjoy the company.

1. Single people make good friends, too.

I can remember times when I first moved to a new town and I heard friends (all married) talk about the fun things that they had done together as couples. I remember wishing that for once, they would invite me to come along! It’s up to me to decide if I’m going to feel like a third or fifth wheel, or enjoy the company. Invite me along, even if I’m the only one without a date.

2. Please don’t assume you know how I feel.

As an unmarried person, I may or may not be struggling with my singleness at the moment, so if you want to know, ask me. Don’t assume that because we spoke once and I was really struggling in my singleness that I’m forever pining away for a husband. And don’t assume that because we once spoke about how I’m pretty content in my single status that I’m always going to be content. Instead of assuming, ask me.

3. Singleness looks different in your twenties than it does in your thirties.

Because you may have spent a period of time—long or short—being single does not mean that you understand what it is to see your peers and even your nieces and nephews get married before you. The experience of singleness does not remain the same over time.

4. Dispense your formula for finding a mate with care.

“It” may have worked for you and 10 of your friends, but from what I know about love, and especially finding and marrying—and staying married—isn’t formulaic. Chances are, I’ve “tried” your formula and it hasn’t “worked.” This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to hear your advice, I just hope that you’ll listen to me before you offer it.

5. There are days when singleness feels unbearable, and days when it feels empowering.

If you catch me on one of the bad days, offer to help me do yard work, buy me chocolate, take me out for dinner, or watch a chick-flick with me. Remind me that companionship doesn’t always come in the form of a romance.

Your friend may be single, but they don’t have to be alone.

There are other days when singleness feels empowering. On those days, I feel pretty good about managing a home, a car, a job, my bank account and social situations flying solo. Please don’t talk to me about how my independence is intimidating to a man. That’s so 1950s.

It may seem that I’ve painted a pretty bleak picture for how you can approach your single friend when it relates to their single status in life. But the reality is that he or she may be single, but they don’t have to be alone. And for their sake, and for what they have to offer to you and the rest of the world, I hope they won’t be.

You can help them to know that they are a valued member of a community, and not just because they “have all that free time on their hands.” Cut them a little slack, and do them and yourself a favor by treating them like what they are: normal.”

 Written by Ashley Alley cc. February 22, 2013. Relevant Magazine.