Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Difficult Friendships Are Good for You

below is an article i wrote for Desiring God back in March...i pray it can be helpful. i find myself using my very own words to rebuke myself...the irony:)

Difficult Friendships Are Good for You



How does a Christian woman love another sister in the church who she finds difficult to love? Euodia and Syntyche, for instance, had a strained and difficult enough relationship for the apostle Paul to remind them “to agree in the Lord” (Philippians 4:2).
The call to share life with church family blesses the soul, but also comes with complex burdens. God expects us to walk together in brotherly love (1 Thessalonians 4:9; Hebrews 13:1; 2 Peter 1:7). Loving one another is an incredibly high calling — an impossible one to do alone. Satan’s schemes and our own flesh often make genuine love feel like a pipe dream. While some relationships are so easily sweet, refreshing, and challenging, others are often hard, confusing, and even draining.
Many frustrated women I love experience these kinds of relationships in their churches. The relationship aggressively disrupts our feelings, leaving us critical and bothered. When warmth is not reciprocated, then feelings of neglect or indifference tempt us to resent the sister. Sometimes we are mean to each other. We are ashamed of feeling this way. We feel misunderstood by the sister. Husbands, family, and friends may get caught in the middle.
With these sanctifying relationships, God kindly exposes our pride, while reminding us of his love. It’s disheartening to see other women with these issues lack strategies to deal with them. Here are a few thoughts to help you love other women well, and enjoy the supremacy of God in the midst of complicated friendships.

1. Give thanks for your sister.

God lovingly commands, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). All circumstances? Yes, thank God for this friend, by faith in his goodness, even when you can’t see why this friendship is good for you. James commands us to count all our trials as joy (James 1:2–4).
God has strategically placed you in this particular friendship for some reason. One thing is for sure: it is refining you and your faith (1 Peter 1:6–7). It hurts to be refined, but it is necessary for all of us. And ultimately, it really is good for us. By developing a thankful disposition, we will remember that this situation is not a mistake, but is meant to produce praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
If this sister is a believer, this is emphatically not a competition. Thank God that he’s actively working in both of you to make you more like him.

2. Be honest about the relationship being hard.

Admit that the relationship is complicated and tough. Ignoring or downplaying the difficulty doesn’t do anyone any good. Admit it to yourself, to the Lord, and to the sister. Speak with her privately and directly, as that often clears things up (Matthew 18:15). As you speak with her, remind her that you care for her and love her. Tell her that having this relationship is good for you, and that you want to be consistently vulnerable and honest. Just because the friendship is difficult doesn’t mean bitterness or anger is inevitable. You can still genuinely love each other in the midst of hurt and pain.
Make peace with the reality that the complexity might be here to stay. The relationship may never be rainbows and butterflies; it may be consistently stormy. God may have ordained that this relationship will not get better until heaven. Spiritual maturity lies in understanding that happiness is not based on how good of a friendship you have (or don’t have), but how much Christ is being experienced and enjoyed through this.
Christians enjoy Christ even in sorrow — “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10) — since we still live on this side of the final resurrection. Let us beware of idolizing and demanding comfortable relationships from the God who is infinitely wise and good, and who loves us and knows what’s best for us (and who is best for us).

3. Pray.

The Lord cares about this. He isn’t expecting you to merely toughen up. He knows the struggle personally, as he walked with and discipled the twelve.
Be honest in your prayers — tell him where and how you are struggling to love your friend. Ask the Lord to help you love her — to help you see more of Christ and less of yourself. Pray he enables you to die to your preferences.
Ask God to reveal your sin. Everyone has blind spots (Hebrews 3:12). Examine your heart for sin. How does it manifest itself in your interactions with this particular friend? You may have to ask her for forgiveness. This will humble you, but humility is always the Christian path forward (Philippians 2:3). What a beautiful display of the gospel: sinners repenting and asking God and each other for forgiveness. This helps build your life and church into a community of grace and not division.

4. Take baby steps toward her.

Seek little ways to improve the relationship. Don’t hold on tightly to your ideal friendship. Initiate interaction. Don’t lose heart when you get the cold shoulder.
Greet her warmly every Sunday. It’s interesting that Paul commands us to greet one another with a holy kiss (Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26). When sin divides relationships, greetings are often the first thing to be neglected. Think of every greeting as a baby step in improving the relationship so far as it depends on you (Romans 12:18).

5. Ask for help.

Together, ask a godly woman — one who is unafraid to speak the truth in love — to mediate. When unhealthy and bitter thoughts fester, speaking to a mediator helps you hear your own thoughts out loud and evaluate them. By combating unclear, unhelpful, or sinful thoughts, the third person blesses the effort to kill sin and to bring love to the struggling friendship. If helpful, include your husband. Your husband may guard you from reading into things and assuming the worst.

6. Encourage other women.

Your own struggles present a unique opportunity to model God’s work for others. Carefully, without making yourself a hero and without sinfully gossiping, use your relationship to encourage other sisters who have similar struggles. Encourage them to rejoice in God, examine their hearts, and ask for help so that they too may experience the goodness of God in Christ.
Though we all have difficult relationships, God’s grace is always sufficient. Be especially prayerful, strategic, and gracious in your difficult friendships, guarding vigilantly against indifference and bitterness. Take heart, rejoice, and persevere in love, knowing that God is able give us the grace we need in each relationship

Friday, April 21, 2017

church family



what does the church look like to you?

it varies from church to church but would you say they are family? would they be thicker than blood?

the new testament church was not a sunday only affair. in the book of acts (acts 2:42-47) they devoted themselves to God's word, broke bread, prayed, and helped each other. they loved each other well, so well that the outside world wondered what was going on.

when you live life with your church family you feel encouraged and refreshed. when you live life with your church family you sometimes step on people's toes. A month ago i felt like i was stomping on people's feet! i failed several times in loving people correctly. i had to ask a dear couple for forgiveness because i assumed and i had to ask another dear friend for forgiveness because i came off frustrated towards her. fail. fail. fail. i felt super dumb and super small. it was good though. they were all kind in forgiving me and i was so thankful for our bond in Christ. i was thankful that we were in agreement--when we sin, we ask for forgiveness and we seek reconciliation. no brushing it under the rug. no laughing it off as the pain stings. no bitterness beginning to form. just acknowledgement of our short comings and extending forgiveness because Christ forgave us. this is a church body i am proud to be part of: where we boast in our weakness because we show how much more glorious Jesus Christ is.

thank you bethany baptist church.




Tuesday, March 7, 2017

conversations on racism


pj and i recently had a dinner date with a few couples. after we headed over to a coffee shop for some good conversations. our dear friends are those type of people you can talk about anything with, so i came with a loaded question.

"what are your thoughts when people say a black man is speaking white?"

the conversation lasted about 2 hours. it was such a fruitful back and forth exchange. a few take a ways that our friends preached.

these type of race questions need to be talked about in discipleship contexts.
how wonderful it would be for Christians of different ethnic backgrounds coming together to talk about presumptions, hurts, and inquiries. how can you truly understand your black friends fear of law enforcement if you don't know their story. you still might not understand but at least it gives you ears to hear. pray God makes you sensitive as you listen and agree or disagree. its ok if their is push back since we are all different and come with our own backgrounds. be loving as you push back. ask your friends to help you reiterate their positions as you chew on their story and scripture.

get out of your comfort zone.
if all you have are same ethnic group friends, or lack another ethnic group, then go make friends who don't look like you! this could sound a little weird in your mind. "Ok, so I need some Mexican friends." but yes, why not? loving all people allows you to grow in sensitivity toward them.

praise God for churches that are striving to understand our fellow brothers and sisters who have stories to tell.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Around Here #9


i'm currently having a real itch for writing...(sigh). 

had a few insightful conversations this week. a good friend of mine, who i've pitched the idea of starting a blog together, shared some thoughts on being black in america. so good. now i really feel we need to start one!

been listening to this podcast on my runs and its so good. based on a true life murder mystery. i pray it gets resolved at the end. 

has anyone ever tried these mailer meals? they look good.

got a hold of a new friend's podcast, a bunch of homeschool moms! my type of thing.

this month i'm having some mommy friends over for a game night and appetizers.

omgosh califoria english! yes this is so true LOL!

my love will be speaking at this conference, can't wait.

currently watching this documentary. 



sat in while a good brother of ours got tested and then affirmed to proceed with God's work!

attended the send conference with church family.

i love watching the girls get better.

an impromptu birthday cake and confusion on who we're celebrating.

my morning breakfast choice.

the main man's next video project.

listening to this man is always a delight. i even got to ask him a question, yesssss!
AND having this little man around our home is a pleasure!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

mammoth












after the lovely husband being gone for school we had the privilege of attending a retreat he was speaking at a few days after he arrived home. the group was lovely and couldn't have asked for a better group to get stuck up the mountain with. i wanted to take the kids up to the snow for a few years but couldn't make a game plan. thankfully this trip was exactly what we all needed. 

what we all didn't expect was for us to be right in the middle of a blizzard! according to locals the weather had never been that bad. we had to stay an extra day because the roads were closed. sooooo because we had enough snow to last us for 10 years, i am in no hurry to scurry up any mountain for a long time. 

since we were all cooped up in doors in a small place, it gave pj and i good discipleship moments with the kids. even our own hearts were tried and tested. thank God for grace. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

mom





when i don't want to be mom today

there are days that being a mom is awesome. you feel like you got the hang of this motherhood, in fact you feel like the CEO! THEN there are days, weeks perhaps, that you can feel like you're gasping for air. the weight of the day-to-day gets overwhelming. simple meal plans feel like agony, refereeing the 10th fight makes you cringe. maybe i'm the only one with bad days....no, wait, I'm not.

this roller coaster happens often in our household. what can i do besides throw in the towel and give up? how can i make these ups and downs focused on Christ Jesus?

little humble ways that may help.

1. you can pray as you do things. pray as you cook. pray as you clean. pray as you run errands etc. pray out loud. have the kids pray for you. pray with them before you start the day. of course it would be ideal to wake up and pray for 30 minutes but in reality a mom of five, 10 years and younger, has a hard time doing much. instead of beating yourself up with the do's and don't s of the Christian faith, take grace and run with it.

2. communicate with your husband. when he comes through the door there are times he knows something is wrong. in our sinfulness he can feel our distance or anger. or see the teary eyes.  if we struggle with words, blurting out "i need a break!" is sufficient. a quick plan of action can be helpful. have your husband text people in order to set up a date night or plan a day he can watch the kids while you go out. try taking the initiative to set up a sisters-in-Christ hangout or simply being around refreshing company can provide an end goal for the week.

3. repent and go to the cross: if it's those type of days go, by God's grace, and ask God for forgiveness and humble yourself and ask the kids for forgiveness of specific sins you've committed against them. sorry is for non-sin issues. using biblical language helps them and us understand sin and God's loving mercy. speaking of the gospel in the midst of asking for forgiveness is helpful and necessary. 

4. lay low. If you're like me, staying home is much more relaxing then running errands with five in tow. try to set up the week so there are days you are out for a bit and other days for recuperating. my kids are a mixed bag. some love staying home, others thrive off being out. try to be loving and do both for the sake of everyone's sanity. if laying low is not restful then setting play dates with refreshing friends can be another option. i have friends that can't stay home (for their own sanity) so they pursue play dates aggressively.

5. reading time. this looks different depending on the age group and sort of takes training (but don't start when you're overwhelmed!). even the little ones can look at books with pictures, that works too! for older kids reading time works great, older siblings can read to the younger ones. reading is a special time to mind travel. if things are getting too hectic call for a time out and have everyone read while you gather your sanity. maybe remind them if they have not read God's Word for the day, now is the time. encourage them and teach them to pray for a church family member from the church directory.

5b. for little ones, i suggest training in "sit down time." we've practiced this since my 10 year was little and it has saved me multiple times. as you begin training, start in very small increments. teach the child to sit down, without playing, without toys, without fidgeting. i know, whaaaaat? yes. it's amazing when it works by God's grace! set the timer (start at 1 minute), sit next to them as you watch and help them keep the rules. after the timer goes off, everyone celebrates! then you try it again the following day, and continue to increase the time gradually. i'm not 100% sure where I was taught this but it must have been from a book or a past church member.

6. phone a friend. whether you email, text or call, asking women to lift you up in prayer is crucial. i've group texted my sisters-in-Christ and called out for prayer because of a trial. share the details of your sin or temptations and call them to action--prayer. when you see them at church gatherings it's nice to hear their love and concern.

i've noticed my heart has a certain trajectory if i spend some time in reading God's word early in the morning. every situation differs as to when you can read but we must all agree it is necessary for life. brainstorm how that might look with your heart open to Christ in order to move closer to him.

being a mom is tough but SO lovely and rewarding. how you allow the Lord to run your household will comprehensively shape how you view children (perhaps another post).

lean on the commitment you've made with your church family in bearing each others burdens. being in a community of grace and not performance breaks chains. if you don't have a church environment like that i encourage you to ask God to make you the instigator. light the fire. praise the Father for his Son, Christ Jesus, who died for messed up mothers like us.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

a great lesson





as america was at their edge of their seats, watching democracy unfold, lots of children were aware something big was happening.

 every presidential race is a great civics lesson and training in a biblical worldview.

 here are some small ways to help disciple your children through this important time, or for the next.

1. read and tell the children the different presidential candidates and their stances on key issues. try to break it down in simpler terms. ask questions like, "do you think God has something to say about this?"

2. talk about God and his Word. speak of His wisdom and what he says in his Word. read specific scripture that deals with government. we read Daniel 3 and sang burn us up by shane&shane, i felt it was very fitting.

2. watch videos that explain the voting process. our family watched bainpop videos. The kids love moby.

3. watch or watch highlights of the debates. talk about what is going on. talk about God and if the nominee is disagreeing with God's Word. talk about their character and what God has declared to be men and women of integrity.

4. refer back to history and the beginning of democracy. speak of empires that have risen and fallen. read scripture like Daniel 2:21
He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding.


5. set up a mock voting booth at home where the kids can cast their vote and explain the process.

6. once the president has been declared, pray with your children for the country and for wisdom for the new president and his cabinet. pray that Christians will put their hope in Christ and not in this government or any other. remind them that God says to pray for those in government leadership
whether we agree or disagree with them we must pray for their salvation and leadership that we are under.

1 Timothy 2:1-3
First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior.

Let's continue to pray for the church to go and declare Christ crucified.
 
 

Monday, October 10, 2016

DIY paper pot

when you don't have a pot to put your newly found treasure in, you make one!
 
here's an easy diy paper pot.
 
- turn the paper bag inside out (i gently rolled it outward).
- depending on your plant size, fold the bag inward to the desired height.
- have some fun painting it whatever color(s) you desire.
 
 
 

Monday, October 3, 2016

around here #8

Its been 6 months since i've used this space. wow. i felt compelled to write something. anything. there's been a lot to think through. i've been pondering the fate of america.

it's helpful listening to this man after the debates.

another black man dead. these words are repetitive. this is heavy. weep with those who weep.

it's been a struggle to hear fellow brother's and sister's talk about racism. to hear comments that are just sad and unhelpful to the conversation has been eye opening. not because they're speaking truth but because their own prejudices are not seen. what's happening?

this american life segment was hard to hear. it made me cry to hear the parents talk. tears just rolled down my face.

we use to hold this magazine subscription. i think i want to invest in this one!

another great podcast on racism in america.

our friend's honest, helpful words on life (being black) through his eyes.

walking in on olaf. 
 vipary is super cool.
once a clean entry way.
 these people make me smile.
she makes me smile.
i crave her littleness near me.



Monday, April 4, 2016

DIY: Tassle Socks

my constantly, crying, baby Reed gives me only a few minutes to do anything creative. when i get the craft bug i quickly have to create something before i easily become frustrated with an idea. since i can't sit in front of my sewing machine--which i desperately desire--i reach for simple diy projects that muster up creative juices and yet keeps me close to baby.







ta-da!!!



Friday, February 5, 2016

Friday Smile



mindy's show is hilarious.

this show is pretty good.

i want lots of cool tools to make stuff.

the anniversary of roe vs. wade. I never knew this.

OMG serial. I'm hooked!!!

thinking of the warmer weather in Cali has me planning for backyard ideas!

this map lol!

what i've secretly been trying.

i tried this soup a few times and i loved it.

such a good letter to read and remind myself of my sin.

HAPPY FRIDAY!!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

taboo.

recent conversations and things ive read have me thinking more of death. obviously no one is truly foreign to it and others actually have seen the sting closer.

i've loosely followed this mans journey to death and it's had me praying for his family and just trying to be sensitive to the fact that we are not our own. his wife's words are so powerful. here's a review of his book.

i have no idea when my time or beloved family and friends have. i've tried visualizing all my family and friends with count down clocks above their heads and imagine being shocked at the differing times and "unexpected" deaths. our lovely niece is so near in my thoughts of death and life.

it's healthy to think about death in a way that sobers us from our individualism and brings us back to reality. it's not pretty but desperately needed.

Death, where is your victory?
Death, where is your sting?
56 Now the sting of death is sin,
and the power of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ!
1 corinthians 15:55-57



Now I further saw that between them and the gate was a River, but there was no bridge so that pilgrims might cross over; moreover, the River was very deep. So Christian and Hopeful were shocked at such a sight; but the men escorting them declared, “You must pass through this River or else you cannot arrive at the gate of the City. Then the pilgrims asked if there was any other way to the gate.The  Shining Ones answered, “Yes, but no one else has been permitted to travel that way since the foundation of the world except Enoch and Elijah; and no others will be allowed until the sounding of the last trumpet.” Then the pilgrims began to despair in their minds, and especially Christian; they looked this way and that way, but no alternative route could be found by which they could avoid the River.Then they asked the men if the water was all of the same depth. They replied “No,” but could offer no further help other than the comment, “You shall find it deeper or shallower according to your trust in the King of the place.


-From Pilgrim's Progress
by John Bunyan


Monday, January 25, 2016

Around Here #7

it's been difficult lately. reed is precious and she's high maintenance! its true what they say-- every child is different. the other four, as babies, we're self soothing. this factor came in extremely handy as i home-schooled and needed some cushion room to teach and still care for a newborn. reed loves to be in the sling and only in the sling. if she's not in there her time alone is short-lived. some times i cry and feel so overwhelmed. then there's days that the circumstances have not changed but i feel God's grace calm my weary soul. don't get me wrong she's a huge blessing! we love her forever and cant imagine life without her but i'm human and i get overwhelmed too. even as i type this i'm struggling to keep her content as she's already well fed, changed and sleepy. but i lover her and she's worth the struggle:)

1. sometimes running a mile outside is our p.e.

 2. a new headband

3. our home in the process of becoming our home.

 4. fitting in science experiments with a new born can be a challenge.

5. school on my bed has been a frequent.

 6. oh city you're a ham.

 7. we are loving our church work days

 8. city's signature lip pose

 9. visiting the broad

10. the kids appreciating contemporary art

i celebrated my birthday with friends, music, and encouraging chatter. i was so blessed and refreshed. i love how God brings people into your life that are sources of fresh air. i love them all dearly.

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