enemies to intimacy

some thoughts on friendship

When I was growing up, my mom gave me some really good thoughts on friendships.  She would always encourage me to have lots of different friends & to not just have one, key friend.  I can still hear her tell me not to “put all of my eggs in one basket.”  This advice has really helped me over the years to be open to having lots of different kinds of friends – some young, some smart, some kind, some silly, some reflective, some old, some cheeky, . . . .   The diversity makes for some fantastic conversations, insights & interactions!

My mom also encouraged me that friendships go through seasons.  Furthermore, I picked up from Joyce Meyers that God puts friendships in our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime.  The reason, season & lifetime ideas have really helped me to keep a healthy perspective on the various relationships that God brings into & removes from my life.  Some friendships God brings for a reason – to help us grow, change, etc.  Some friendships come into our life for a season – they have a limited duration & for whatever reason, they seem to dissapate after a time.  Finally, there are a few friendships that last for a lifetime.  I think that the lifetime friendships are few & far between, but I highly treasure these relationships.  Recently, I had one of these friends pop through Denver for a few days & I’m musing today on God’s love to me, expressed through this wonderful friendship.  I’m keenly aware that my friend is ultimately a conduit through whom God expresses His love to me and how great is the Father’s love for us!!

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, family, Holy Spirit, living, spiritual, 0 comments

be gentle

Here’s a quickie thought about our relationships – be gentle.  I’m reminded to be gentle on many occasions – most frequently when someone says something to me that is sharp or insensitive.  When this happens, I find that it’s most helpful to give others the benefit of the doubt & not automatically assume that they’re trying to hurt me or have malicious intents.  I honestly think that if others understood some of our sensitivities, they probably wouldn’t say some of the things that we find to be hurtful.  So with this in mind, I want to be a gentle person & tread lightly.  I figure that if I’ll be gentle, others won’t find the need to forgive me as frequently and perhaps this is a practical way to express Jesus’ love.

I’m also reminded that Jesus wants me to be gentle with myself – to intentionally lose the lists of failures, shame & shortcomings, since these items have already received His forgiveness.  I can also be gentle with myself by being less impatient with my maturation.

Gentle words, gentle actions, gentle thoughts, . . . . . be gentle 🙂

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, family, Holy Spirit, living, prayer, spiritual, 1 comment

A Helpful Reminder :)

Here are some super quickie thoughts on forgiveness –

Forgiveness does not:
*require an apology to be legitimate
*require a verbal expression to the person who offended / hurt you (you can forgive someone without telling them)
*happen only once
*give us permission to “side swipe” or retaliate w vengeance the person who has hurt us after we’ve forgiven them

Forgives is / does:
*require constant maintenance (we must keep our forgiveness fresh)
*improve w practice
*beneficial to the person who is forgiving more than the person who rec’vs forgiveness
*work & dedication

Let’s be sure to encourage each other to be good “forgivers” & let’s make it easy for others to forgive us 🙂

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, family, Holy Spirit, living, prayer, spiritual, 1 comment

different ways to learn & grow

A few years ago, I had to privilege of taking my kids to Berlin when Reece & I were doing some ministry there.  It was a really cool experience for all of us.  Before we left, I did some educational work with my kids about the modern history of Berlin, including the Berlin Wall, Cold War, Communism, etc.  We went to the library & checked out books on these topics, we watched interviews with people who had lived there & we even saw a cool Nat’l Geog special about the development of the Berlin Wall over the decades of its existence.  I loved getting to do all of this educational leg work with my kids because I knew that when we arrived in the city, we’d be able to visit many sites that they had read about, we’d be able to go to the Berlin wall & visit East Berlin & get to 1st hand interact with the material we’d learned about – it was a SUPER COOL experience.  I remember doing this kind of thing as a kid when my parents took me to the Pyramids in Egypt.

So here’s my point with this – I think God uses the same kinds of teaching techniques.  I find that many times, He gives me the schooling I need in the Bible to help me walk out what I’ll be exploring, learning and experiencing in life.  The other day in my prayer time, I was hesitant to leave & enter the demands of the day because I was having such great fellowship with God.  Nevertheless, I felt God encourage me that I wasn’t really leaving our fellowship, but rather we were merely changing the contexts – from the “classroom” of our quiet time to the application of daily living.  Hopefully, after reading this, you also will recognize that our fellowship with God doesn’t have to “end”, but instead it just expands to include more areas of our life 🙂

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, family, Germany, Holy Spirit, living, prayer, spiritual, 2 comments

growing #3: enough

Enough is an interesting word.  It makes me think of other words like, full, satisfied, adequate and others.  I’ve been thinking about this word in many different ways – one of them related to rhubarb 🙂  You see, when I was growing up, we had a few rhubarb plants & my mom would make these really tasty rhubarb desserts.  So over the last 5 years, I’ve tried to remember to buy some rhubarb plants to plant in the Spring.  I’ve failed because I always remembered too late & the stores were all out of rhubarb plants.  But this year is different 🙂  I bought a few plants over the Easter weekend & I’m really excited to plant them – now I’m just trying to figure out where.  I want to make sure that I get them in a place with enough sunlight – enough being the operative word.

Of late, the word “enough” has been interrupting all kinds of thoughts – making me think that I don’t have “enough.”  Maybe you’re like me & perhaps you wish you had more time, more energy, more wisdom, more money, more sleep, more sun, more friends, more help, more love, more rhubarb ,)  more patience, more . . . . . just plain more.  God & I have been chatting about this dilemma – maybe I would be more accurate to say that we’ve been wrestling about this topic.

So its interesting to note that yesterday in my Bible time I read Ps 107:9, “He satisfies the hungry and fills the hungry with good things.”  Furthermore, I’ve been studying about God’s grace this morning & He tells me that His grace is “enough”.  Perhaps my challenge is that I’m looking to my own resources more than looking to God as my provider.  When I see God as my provider, then I can trust that whatever He gives me is “enough.”  But when I get my focus off of God & onto myself or something else, then I easily fall into the lack trap – never enough.

Ever struggle with keeping your focus on God?  What are some things that you’ve found helpful in keeping your focus centered on God?  Would love to hear your thoughts 🙂

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, family, living, spiritual, 1 comment

growing part 1: light exposes lies

I had an interesting experience in a conversation with a friend a few days ago as we were talking about various challenges in our lives.  In the discussion,  I opened up and shared some frustrations & struggles that have been on my heart, which may seem fairly harmless.  After the conversation as I was walking to my car, I felt a bit of a gentle scolding in my heart from God.  Some of His loving rebuke challenged me that sometimes I can be whiney: complaining about what isn’t going well, “venting” with my frustrations, etc.  Even worse, I can get into a pity party & swallow the lie that I’m a loser.  I think we can all fall into this trap from time to time.

I’m extremely confident that God was confronting & challenging me to change in His loving rebuke because the next morning, my Bible reading time just happened to be in Josh 1, where God commands Joshua 3 times to be strong & courageous.  Furthermore, I also read Ps 103:1-5 where David beautifully magnifies the work of God in our individual lives. 

So here are my take-aways (and perhaps they will encourage you as well): 

  • just because the evil one serves me a plate of discouragement doesn’t mean that I automatically pick up a fork & start ingesting his poisonous delicacies masquerading as a chummy conversation;
  • be strong & courageous:  may my ears & eyes be sensitive to hear & see God moving in my life (vertical focus) more than how I feel or what I see & hear on the horizontal plane; 
  • Be strong & courageous is a command from God & it obliterates my self-pity dribble

Perhaps on this Resurrection Weekend it would be constructive to celebrate the death of the “loser lie”.  Indeed, when they crucified Jesus, many thought He was one of the world’s biggest losers, but He came back & annhilated the “loser lie.”  So my friend, let me invite you to join me in receiving His lluminating imperative to be strong & courageous to evaporate any discouragement, deceptions & lies in our lives 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in enemies to intimacy, Holy Spirit, living, prayer, spiritual, 2 comments

Spring Cleaning and Soul Cleaning :)

We could probably all do a bit of extra cleaning in this season, especially with all of the kids’ school stuff that’s presently occupying far too much counter space 🙂

Here’s another idea for some Spring Cleaning that I’ve been thinking about lately:  perhaps we could all do some “soul cleaning” with some fresh work on the forgiveness front.  Here’s what got me thinking about this – yesterday, I ran across a person with whom I had a very unpleasant exchange in January & I found myself being very frosty with this person, noticeably LESS friendly with them than anyone else.  This was a nice wake up call that I probably need to freshen up my forgiveness maintenance.  Maybe you’re not like me, but I find that I’m really keen to make the forgiveness decision, but sometimes I neglect the followup maintenance that forgiveness can require.  When I make the forgiveness decision, for me this means that I chose to not “punish” the person for our altercation by being unpleasant in any future exchanges.  Furthermore, when I forgive a person, I make the decision not to discuss their failure with anyone else (outside of a normal healthy disclosure).  Additionally, when I chose to forgive, I find it helpful to bless person & to “let go” of the offense – not remind them of their failure by bringing up the past.  Like I said on my fb post, forgiveness is a decision that can require ongoing maintenance ,)

Happy Spring Cleaning!

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, Holy Spirit, living, spiritual, 0 comments

fear & making decisions

I read this morning about a crazy guy that met Jesus & how his life changed.  In Mark 5, there’s a man who is demon possessed & is severely tormented.  No one can chain or control him.  He lives in a graveyard, screams & runs around cutting himself – totally nuts.  When Jesus comes to the area where this man lives, the crazy guy runs up to Jesus & the demons start talking to Jesus & being obnoxious.  The short end of the story is that Jesus kicks out the demons & the man gets his sanity back.  Clearly, this story is pretty interesting, but here’s one of the things that really gets my attention:

It says in Mark 5:15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. 17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

Because of their fear, the people in the village asked Jesus to leave their area when they saw the crazy man turned sane.  If we’re not careful, we will allow fear to influence us to make crazy decisions, like the people in this village.  They asked Jesus to leave their area after he had completely healed the town’s madman.  If Jesus could heal the crazy man of the town, could He not also heal others?  And yet the town kept their fear but rejected the Healer.  I hope that when I am forced to make decisions between fear & Jesus that I pick Jesus every time.

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Posted by Sarah in enemies to intimacy, Holy Spirit, living, prayer, spiritual, 0 comments

stress relief

Ok, here’s some transparency – I’m kind of stressed at this moment.  There are alot of moving parts in my life right now & it seems that whatever topic that I focus on leaves me stressed.  I know that there are seasons of pressure times in life & we all get to learn to manage through those seasons with hopefully few, if any, casualties. 

Nevertheless, the last few days & evenings have had some intensely stressful moments, but here’s also some encouragement:  this morning in my quiet time, as I’m doing my normal Bible reading routine, the verses I read in the NT were about Jesus calming the storm (when He had been sleeping while everyone else was freaking out).  Furthermore, I read Ps 94:19, “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.”  Finally, the verses I’m memorizing in John start with Jesus saying, “Do not let your hearts be troubled – you believe in God, believe also in Me.” 

So here’s my take aways that you might also find useful:

  • I can have peace in my heart as I fellowship with Jesus regardless of the storms occuring around me
  • When I bring Jesus into the storms of my life, He brings peace
  • There are times that Jesus wants to work through me to bring peace to stormy situations – blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God (Matt 5)

May the peace of Jesus guard your heart and mind today, my friend

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Posted by Sarah in enemies to intimacy, Holy Spirit, living, prayer, spiritual, 3 comments

the right fight

Fighting is an interesting concept that gets practiced in many different ways:

  • the guy who flips me off because I cut in front of his car
  • fighting in Afghan, Iraq, Libya & other areas
  • fighting with our spouse over little things portending a bigger issue
  • fighting with a friend over a misunderstanding or something that is wrong

There are lots of ways of fighting, some of which are better than others.  When I was first married, Reece & I would have some normal disagreement, but my way of handling the conflict was to just shut down & disengage (aka – silent treatment).  Reece didn’t really put up with that technique, saying that there was nothing constructive accomplished w my silence – it didn’t help resolve the conflict, make any progress toward a common goal or do anything constructive.  Quickly, I realized that he was right.  Since then, Reece & I can definately have some fights & heated conversations, but we don’t clam up & get silent.  We also don’t take shots at each other’s person – we may not like the other’s behavior, but we don’t attack each directly.  Consequently, while we’ve had some pretty sturdy conflicts, we also have developed some really good honesty & intimacy over the years.

I think the idea of working through a conflict with God is even more important than when we work through a conflict w our spouse.  I don’t think that God is into a passive intimacy with us, where we just roll over & play dead.  Think about some of the great men in the Bible:  Job, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Peter, . . . .  These men all had conflicts with God – good honest “fights” where they disgreed with God, wrestled with Him, challenged His integrity, confronted the discrepencies in the world with God’s character & sometimes just flat out debated with God.  If we genuinely want a close relationship with God, there will be times when we will disagree with Him & I don’t think this makes Him nervous.  Engaging with God whether through intense love or frustration & even anger is better than indifference & passivity.  There is such a thing as a “right fight”.

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, family, Holy Spirit, living, prayer, spiritual, 1 comment