communication

Be Explicit!!

“*&$)%^#@*&)^#**!!”

I’m using these symbols to replace the actual words spoken to me in an extremely coarse exchange I had with a person who was upset with me.  Initially, I was a little taken aback with the vocabulary, but at the same time the explicit words helped provide abundant clarity for what this person was expressing.

In contrast, I’ve also had exchanges with people whose communication was super unclear and vague.  In these kinds of interactions, it can be challenging to know exactly what’s being said.

What style of communication would you prefer?  Do you like explicit and overt?  Or do you prefer indirect and maybe obscure?

I think it’s important to think about communication in these ways, not only for our human to human interaction, but moreso for the communication that happens between God and us.  I say this because it’s very natural to assume that God communicates with us similar to how we communicate with each other using words, conversations, dialogue, etc.  Thankfully, God has given us the Bible for some concrete words to help us know and recognize God not only in human history but also in God’s character and heart.

However, we would be wise to pause and consider that God is Infinite and we are finite.  To this end, communication from and with God does not always follow the same patterns and expressions that we experience in our human to human dialogues or communication.

For example, in 1Kings 19, there’s a fascinating exchange between the prophet Elisha and God.  This exchange happened after Elisha had seen God move dramatically in 1Kings 18, confirming God’s power and judgment against the idolatry of the King and Queen of Israel.  After this dramatic demonstration, the Queen of Israel threatened to kill Elisha and he fearfully ran for his life.  God sent an angel to provide food and rest for Elisha, who then ran into wilderness where he was hiding in a cave for the culminating events of 1Kings 19.

In this chapter, Elisha looks out from the cave and sees a massive wind that is strong enough to smash rocks, but God wasn’t in the wind.  Elisha sees an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake.  Elisha sees fire, but God isn’t in the fire.  When Elisha hears “a still small voice” he recognizes this is God speaking with him and heads out of his cave.

If you’re like me, I want God to speak to me in clear, explicit and direct ways.  I would like it if God would dialogue with me with definite words, clear discussion, obvious interactions and overt engagement – maybe not quite as extreme as an earthquake or rock crushing wind.  And to this end, I’m massively grateful for the Bible because it gives me God’s Word in black and white.

Let’s appreciate, however, that God communicates with us not only in explicit and definite ways, but also in ways that are more subtle, like the gentle whisper or still small voice.  God can communicate with us as a gentle whisper, a tender reminder, the beautiful sunrise or sunset, through the comment or hug or a friend, in a sermon or blog, in a dream at night and many other ways.  Consequently, we would be wise to ask God to help us recognize the massive variety of ways that God communicates with us everyday, appreciating that Infinite has innumerable expressions for communicating with us who are finite.

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Posted by Sarah in enemies to intimacy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

3 Relationship Principles :)

Since yesterday was Pentecost, I decided to look at ways Holy Spirit could improve my relationships & come up with 3 helpful keys:

1 – Communication essential:  Holy Spirit is a communication expert as we see on the Day of Pentecost with so many languages & people hearing about Jesus. Ask Holy Spirit to help you to communicate better. This can include listening, slowing down & being kind

2 – Truth essential: since Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, we could be wise to ask for truth in our relationships. When there’s an absence of truth, we invite deception & destruction as evidenced in Acts 5

3 – Definition essential:  let’s allow Holy Spirit to define our relationships to be acquaintances, friends or intimate confidants. In Acts 4, you can see how Holy Spirit defines these relationships for Peter & this was very to him!

Let’s invite Holy Spirit to participate in our relationships & then hold on for an incredible adventure!

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, Pentecost, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, values, watch, 0 comments

Project, Function or Person?

I came home yesterday from some travel over the weekend and had some rough interaction with one of my kids. I had reviewed some of their grades and had some email exchanges with a teacher which weren’t pleasant. So when I got home, I was prickly with my kid. And this child pushed back on my prickly with a sizable dose of snarky such that our exchanges weren’t constructive. Short story: I was really ticked off.

Thankfully, I’ve had a mental reset this morning. I see where I was treating my child as a project and function, expecting them to change, be productive and fix their grades. Instead, it would be better had I come home and started from a place of genuine love in my heart rather than treating them like an object or project. Let’s be committed to seeing people instead of outcomes, projects or functions. We can do this because this is how our Heavenly Father sees us, from a heart of genuine love, connection and deep affection 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in busy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

What’s Helpful

As I travel, I see people who struggle with their luggage, finding the departure gate, language challenges, etc. And I know I could be helpful on lots of this stuff, usually. However, I’m learning from various experiences that often being helpful in human interactions, is defined better by the recipient rather than person giving the help. I say this because there have been many occasions where I stepped in to help, without asking the person if they wanted my assistance.  In no uncertain terms, I’ve gotten the proverbial hand slap for not asking first. 

So when we want to help someone, instead of jumping in without asking, we would be wise to do these two things first:

  • Ask the person if they would like help
  • Ask how they would like help 

This kind of communication is useful not only with strangers but also with co-workers, family members, friends, acquaintances, etc 🙂

Just a little practical wisdom from the road that we can all use for improving our communication 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, travel, values, watch, 0 comments

An Earful

Do you ever get frustrated with or mad at God? No matter what your religious background or training has been, I think we have all had times & seasons when we’ve been mad at & frustrated with God. And I don’t think this is a bad thing. 
This morning during my prayer time, I had some heated words with God. I expressed some frustrations & took some time to listen for a reply & feedback. Did I hear lots of input from my diatribe? Not heaps, but I did sense the Holy Spirit with me, listening & with loving presence. In these times when I get frustrated, I never sense that God is displeased with me when I’m upset or angry with God. I think God can be more disturbed with us when we don’t engage or when we withdraw. People in the Bible who argued with God include: Abraham, Moses, Job, David, Elijah, Peter & lots of other folk. Let’s keep talking with God even when we’re upset or frustrated! 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, values, watch, 0 comments

The Highwire Forgiveness Journey

Forgiveness seems to get lots of approval, affirmation & acknowledgement. It’s generally held that we need to forgive & that’s a good thing. The tricky part of forgiveness isn’t the theory or “ought to” part but the actual implementing & “practice”. Let’s keep in mind that we should be forgiving & then consider a few thoughts:

*being proficient with forgiveness requires practice
*theres no lasting close relationship that doesn’t have some forgiveness worked through the fiber of the intimacy
*forgiveness can be a journey – consider Joseph’s behavior with his brothers who sold him into slavery
*constructive communication can be a helpful ingredient in the forgiveness process
*sometimes forgiveness happens one decision & even one thought at a time
*forgiveness is far better than poison, bitterness & isolation that come from unforgiveness. 
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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, Genuine love, grow, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, values, watch, 0 comments

God awareness

I really like to study languages.  Thus far, I’ve studied probably half a dozen & it always fascinates me when I get to explore a language and how a culture communicates through it’s language.  It also fascinates me to consider that anywhere from 40%-80% of the way we communicate is non-verbal.  Furthermore, I would suggest that the better you know someone, the fewer words you need to communicate with them.

With these ideas in mind, it’s been my experience that God communicates with me in lots of different ways:

  • Bible:  ground zero, full stop
  • a soft whisper or witness in my heart that’s difficult for me to ignore (1Kings 19)
  • desires (Ps 37:4) – I ask God to guide me by giving me desires that affirm God’s plan, will and kingdom
  • conversations – there are many times that God will speak to me through someone in some kind of seemingly common discussion, but something very uncommon stands out to me in that chat (Emmaus Road – Luke)
  •  very often, I don’t sense God speaking to me in words or verbally, but rather I sense God’s presence and I just enjoy keeping company with God

How do you sense and hear God?  Please share with us! 🙂

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Posted by sarahbowling in Genuine love, grow, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, seeing Jesus, spiritual, values, watch, 0 comments

conflict resolution

A few of my kids went to school this morning after a heated conversation.  Both had tears in their eyes & it rips me up as their mom to see this tension and strife.  Which makes me wonder how God “feels” when we are yucky with each other.  The truth is that any relationship worth it’s weight will have to work through conflict.  So here are a few pointers to help with this challenge:

  • benefit of the doubt:  assume the best rather than blame the worst
  • double standard:  be mindful that you don’t just the other person by actions but ourselves by intentions
  • breathing space:  sometimes a “cool down” can bring some clarity and options that aren’t available when we are in the heat of a conflict
  • be generous:  seek to understand before being understood
  • forgive well:  practice makes perfect
  • conclusion:  sometimes the best outcome is to agree to disagree without being disagreeable 🙂
  • pray

Happy Monday to you!

 

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, grow, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, relationships, values, watch, 1 comment

hot topic: Gaza & the ceasefire

I’ve been watching the situation with Israel & Palestine over the last month & I was very happy to read this morning about the ceasefire and what seems to be the ramp down of the military conflict between Israel & Palestine.  If you have looked into any of the history of this area, you’ll quickly see that this area of the world has been unstable to varying degrees for millennia.  Regardless of which side of the conflict you sympathize, its good for everyone that they constructively work toward a peace that can be realisticlly achieved between these neighboring countries.

With that being said, I don’t see how you can be a neighboring country, endeavoring to build trust while concurrently telling your population that your neighbor is the enemy – both sides do this.  I also don’t see how you can build trust when an underlying tenant of your political existence is the obliteration of your neighboring country – there has to be mutual respect for mutual sovereignty.  Finally, you can’t build trust without first creating an environment for constructive conversation.

Let’s pray for peace in the middle East!

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, hot topic, living, spiritual, travel, values, 1 comment

Grumpy people

From time to time, we all get to hang out with or be around grumpy people, no matter how well refined our avoidance skills are. So here are some brief thoughts for your consideration:
*check yourself first – is the person being grumpy because of your actions, words or attitude?
*be gracious – Proverbs says that a soft answer turns away wrath
*be soft & gentle, looking for words that repair rather than escalate
*generous forgiveness is always a handy resource
*be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle – Plato
*confront dysfunctional behavior with constructive timing & opportunity
*seek to reconcile more than dominate 🙂

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, Genuine love, Holy Spirit, living, relationships, 0 comments