September 10, 2020
Here are some helpful tools to use in resolving conflict. I suggest writing the phrases in bold font down and putting the list where you can both see them when talking through an issue. PRAY TOGETHER BEFORE YOU TALK! Invite the presence of the Holy Spirit, ask for wisdom and discernment, and that your conversation be pleasing to Him. Empathy - "I really want to understand how you felt." It may very well be that you would never have felt that way yourself in the same circumstance. But you should be able to understand the emotion and that it was his/her reality. Listening is more important than explaining (you explain when asked a question) Lead with questions rather than statements or accusations - "I saw that you were on your phone while we were out to dinner with our friends, is it okay for me to ask what you were doing?" vs. "It was rude for you to be on your phone when we were with friends." Give benefit of the doubt and soften statements that could potentially be received as an attack or insult. "For some reason that sounded insensitive to me and you're ordinarily a very kind and respectful person. What were you thinking or feeling when you said that?" Accept your partner's answer, acknowledge it, and consider amending your original reaction/emotional response. "It felt hurtful to me at the time, but now that I know why you said what you said, I am going to work on letting go of that hurt feeling." Be willing to consider the other person's perspective and make adjustments for the benefit of the marriage: Husband: "You always yell at me when there's a disagreement. Wife: "I don't yell, I just feel like I have to talk over you to be heard." Be willing to hear the other person's need and consider meeting it. You: "I don't think I should apologize when I don't believe I've done anything wrong." Your spouse: "I need you to show me that you truly care when I feel hurt or upset. When you apologize for any part you may have played in how I felt, even if it was unintentional, I feel loved and can let go of it." Learn as much as you can about your partner's fears, insecurities, and soft spots so you can tailor your words and actions in a protective way. Be self-aware of your own soft spots so you don't immediately jump into habitual emotional reactions, assumptions, or conclusions. While your spouse can help you by being sensitive to your soft spots, he/she is not wholly responsible to prevent you from over-reacting—you are. Make respectful requests vs. selfish demands. "It would be easier for me to hear you if I didn't feel scolded. Would you work on how you approach me when you don't like something I do?" vs. withdrawal, silent treatment, angry outburst, or "If you're going to scold me every time you're upset with me, I'm outta here!" Treat each other like autonomous adults. You can share how you think and feel about something, but in the end the other person is in charge of their own choices. You can negotiate, but sometimes it is best to accept and detach. Accept each other's influence. Neither one of you is always right. You both bring strengths to the table. Accept that you are different people. You will never achieve homogenous oneness. John Gottman, a marriage expert, asserts that 69% of problems in a marriage are not solvable. That means that a huge part of marriage is learning to live with someone very different from you and accepting differences with healthy detachment. Avoid disrespectful judgments - "You were deliberately being mean." No man knoweth another man's heart. You're not a mind-reader or a heart-reader. Even if your assumption is correct, you cannot be certain. Ask questions. Sender and receiver are both responsible for clear communication. And you both have sensitivities that may seem irrational to the other. The only part that you can work on is your own. When you're done, be done. After you fully discuss the issue, your soft spots, emotional reactions, and ways you could communicate with more sensitivity going forward, let the issue go and don't bring it up anymore. Put it on the calendar, if it helps, that you are Done. With. It. Kiss and have make-up sex. Pray first and invite the Holy Spirit to help dissipate the strife and put a salve on your wounds. Determine to be a vessel for comfort and healing. Act as If - Act as normal as you possibly can, even if your feelings betray you. Do and say everything as unto the Lord. Pray for wisdom and strength. Take lingering hurt, frustration to God. Sometimes you think you're over it and thoughts/feelings crop back up. Don't go to your spouse unless there is a compelling reason to. Seek professional Christian counseling if you're stay stuck!
March 27, 2020
How Long Do You Want To Chew That Corn?
When my younger sister and I were little girls, there was a policy laid down by our parents that we had to eat at least one bite of the vegetable that was served at dinner time. Now there were a few vegetables that we could get down without too much trouble, but some were more problematic. My sister despised corn in particular, and it happened that she often would still be at the table, a half hour after everyone else had finished their meal, still chewing that bite of corn.
I often wondered over the years, why would my sister chew that bite of corn for so long? Why would she choose to keep on tasting that yucky taste, when she could just swallow it and get it over with so much more quickly? Perhaps she was more afraid of gagging than suﬀering the taste a little longer...
I was listening to a particular Karen Wheaton video this morning for about the fourth time, and this time the Lord brought to my mind my sister chewing the corn. In the video, Karen talks about trials, that some trials are a testing of our faith, and that they each have a date on them. However, our response to the trial, may impact how soon that date is. I got to thinking about the trial I am currently still in and the trials that some of you are facing.
I am the mother of three prodigal children, complete with estrangement from two of them--that's my current ongoing trial. Exceedingly painful! Maybe you are going through something similar, or wrestling with the eﬀects of a painful childhood, a troubled marriage, financial stress, mental health issues, sickness in your body, the death of a loved one, a shattered dream, a betrayal, or something else. How are you responding to your trial?
Some people respond to a trial by running or numbing....coping with alcohol, drugs, sex, relationships,
pornography, gambling, gaming, shopping, sleeping, etc. to momentarily distract and mask unpleasant feelings.
Other people respond to a trial by conceding (at first resisting, but then embracing) because the pressure to accept the trial as fate or even God's will is deemed too intense and the journey of faith too diﬃcult to traverse.
Still others respond to a trial by freezing, unable or unwilling to make a definitive choice about what to think, believe, or do, which amounts to doing nothing and is a choice in and of itself. They perpetually waﬄe between fighting the good fight of faith and caving, and continually gasp for air in the sea of doubt. This is perhaps the
most turmoiled, beat up group of all.
And all of them, in an attempt to spare themselves from gagging, are electing to keep chewing the corn. The date on the trial is being pushed further away.
There is a a better way. There is a way to swallow the corn and usher in the power of God to deliver what has been promised to you.
When Karen Wheaton was facing the trial of her life, God told her this: "Trust is worship and rest is warfare."
When we trust God in the trial and believe that He is faithful to His Word, that is the highest compliment, the highest form of worship we can oﬀer Him. As Karen points out, our prayers made in faith are the "conduit" through which God brings the answers and manifests His promises.
That kind of faith brings a peace, or a rest to our souls, because we know that we know that we know that He has heard us, He is working (even if we can't see or feel it), and He will keep His Word. Then, even while the storm is still raging, we can live our lives joyfully and productively in the waiting. Brothers and sisters, that is when the battle becomes His and not yours!
Thus says the Lord to you: 'Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's. (2 Chron. 20:15)
Is this an easy walk? No! We need to spend time with God and we need the love and support of each other. God has communicated with me as I've studied His Word and sent many messengers through the body of Christ (sermons, prophecies, conversations with individuals, things in books and articles, videos, and seemingly random other avenues) to strengthen and encourage me as I continue to stand on the promises of God for the miracle I am believing for.
God cannot speak to you to guide and encourage you if you are not seeking Him, listening for Him, and putting yourself in a position to receive. You position yourself to receive by participating in the spiritiual disciplines of studying His Word, worship, prayer, and fellowshipping with other believers through a local church and other ministries.
If you've been chewing corn, make this day the turning point. Commit yourself to earnestly contend for the faith, (Jude 1:3) and run your race with endurance, so that after you have done the will of God you may receive what has been promised you (Heb. 10:36 & 12:1).
When I am down, and, oh, my soul, so weary
When troubles come, and my heart burdened be
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence
Until you come and sit awhile with me
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be. --Josh Grobin
December 31, 2019
Yesterday, I needed to hear from God.
As I was praying and doing housework, a familiar but not-recently- thought-of verse popped into my head: 'Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 4:6)
I was prompted to go look it up in my Bible to read the surrounding text.
Sunday, I don't know if it was in church or something I read, but I had been pondering since the notion that overcoming is fostered when the emphasis is on drawing closer to Christ rather than on resisting temptation or trying so hard to be perfect. When our relationship with Him becomes the priority, whatever we are struggling with begins to lose its power. Zechariah 4:6 seemed to strongly speak to this and the whole issue of trials in life, whether personal weaknesses or awful situations.
Here is the larger passage:
So he (the angel) answered and said to me:
"This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts.
'Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone
With shouts of "Grace, grace to it!" ' "
I felt impressed that God was saying we can appropriate those verses to our current challenges.
"This is the word of the Lord to Gretchen: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts.
"Who are you, O great mountain of __________? Before Gretchen you shall become a plain (level ground,
The power of such a statement is readily apparent. This is the word of the Lord to us, if we will walk closely with Him = and wholeheartedly believe that to us the promises of God are yes and amen (2 Cor. 1:20) and that He will always lead us in triumph (2 Cor. 2:14). Our mountains will be leveled by His Spirit because of our trust, our confession, and His great grace toward us.
What mountan are you facing? Sickness? Financial strain? Addiction? Sexual brokenness? A prodigal child? Mental health problems? A shattered relationship? Bad habits? Try speaking to your mountain this way: "Before me you shall become level ground!"
If you believe it, there will be levity in your heart and a spring in your step.
Happy New Year, my friends!
December 23, 2019
Have a minor or adult kid you're worried about? This article will encourage you.
November 14, 2019
But with God...
November 11, 2019
A client shared this with me. Those of you who have sat with me may have heard me talk about this very thing. 1 Corinthians 10:13 does not teach that as believers we won't face unbearable circumstances! There is a big diﬀerence between temptation (to sin), which is what the verse is referring to, and catastrophic circumstances. The Bible teaches we will encounter water and not drown and fire and not be burned. In other words, in one way or another, He will see us through it if we cling to Him in confident trust.
"God won't give you more than you can handle..."
Odd, I can't seem to find that verse.
I'm guessing Job would take exception to that cliche.
So would Joseph.
"We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself..." II Corinthians 1:8
Why would God allow him to experience hurt more than he could handle? Read on.
"...so that we might not rely on ourselves but on God." II Corinthians 1:9
Truth? Cancer is more than you can handle.
So is infidelity.
So is caregiving.
So is rejection.
So is death
and prodigal children
and 101 other life struggles.
God doesn't expect YOU to handle it.
He expects you to hand it over to HIM.
He doesn't want you relying on your strength, but on His.
If we keep walking around thinking
"God won't give me more than I can handle,"
we're setting ourselves up for
Good news? He beckons for your burdens,
"Cast your cares upon Me..." I Peter 5:7
You will never know relief until you do.
For this hard place, I have Jesus!