conflict

3 Tips for Tense Conversations

Yesterday, I had some very heated discussions & I didn’t enjoy them.  They were challenging to me & it took me awhile to let my emotions unwind & settle down. When I look at Jesus’ life, he had some heated exchanges not only with the religious leaders of His day but also some of His immediate followers. Here could be some helpful tips for these kinds of conversations:

1 – Why? What’s the purpose of the conflict? To be right? To reconcile? To understand the others perspective?

2 – How? How did we get to this place of hostile exchange?  It helps to understand each persons journey up to that point

3 – When & Where?  What space is needed to facilitate a constructive discussion?  Sometimes a little bit of time & a neutral location can help reset the conversation for better resolution & less carnage.

And of course there’s the ever helpful forgiveness essential – a gift we give ourselves 🙂

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

I Disagree!!

I have three wonderful teenage children, very intelligent & sometimes opinionated. And it’s not uncommon to have some very interesting & heated discussions at dinner time about all kinds of topics including politics, musical taste, movie preferences, Hollywood, current events, government policies, theological questions, historical events, recipes & a plethora of random topics. In addition to our wonderful kids, my husband & I have our own perspectives & opinions.  So our dinner conversations can be both diverse & intense. 

As I think about these conversations, it’s important to consider not only what is being said, but also the tone & context for these interactions. If we are going to maintain close relationships, disagreements are inevitable. Here are some helpful thoughts related to disagreements:

  • Seek to understand more than being understood
  • A sincere apology is helpful when there’s misunderstanding 
  • If you’re trying to “win” an argument, appreciate that someone will lose & maybe that’s not a good goal
  • Respect is essential for constructive disagreement 
  • We can disagree without being disagreeable 🙂
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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 1 comment

When There’s Opposition

“You can’t do that!”  “That’s ridiculous & never been done before.”  “We aren’t interested in that kind of thing here.”  “NO!!!”

I’m in Bangledesh sitting with our Saving Moses nightcare team, comprised of nannies, administrative support, guards & assistants. This team looks after babies & toddlers every night while their moms work in the adjacent brothel. When I came to this area last year to present my idea for nightcare, I already had many years experience where people told me all the things I listed at the beginning of this blog & even more. Thankfully, the people in Bangledesh weren’t opposed to my idea, although definitely surprised. And today, I’m abundantly fulfilled to sit with this wonderful team – grateful for each of them & believing in nightcare!

So when you face opposition, here are some things I’ve found to be helpful:

  • See the goal – this helps to stay focused 
  • Take a step toward the goal, no matter how small
  • Be creative – there’s more than one way to achieve a goal
  • Failure is learning rather than defeat
  • Encourage someone else – it helps to keep your heart joyful

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, listen, living, nightcare, prayer, saving moses, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Enjoying Contrasts

I have a child who enjoys classical music & rap. For me, these contrasts don’t match up too well, but to each his own.

I also made an interesting blueberry pie a few days ago where the recipe called for goat cheese & chopped almonds / more contrasts. The pie was like a party in my mouth because of the complementing contrasts: tangy goat cheese & sweet blueberries as well as crunchy almonds & soft blueberries. These contrasts were super pleasant although not something I’d usually consider.

That’s the interesting thing with contrasts: we don’t normally put contrasts together because they often seem to compete rather than blend & complement. But alas, this is how much of following Jesus seems to play out.
For example:

  • Jesus applauded Peter for acknowledging Him as the Son of God but He rebuked Peter for shooting off his mouth;
  • Jesus demonstrates genuine love in the face of abhorrent & brutal humanity;
  • we are to each celebrate our unique gifts & talents while blending them into the Body of Christ for mutual benefit

Navigating contrasts for spiritual growth requires us to pay attention to the Holy Spirit & remain steady in our commitment to genuinely love 🙂

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, cooking, enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, spiritual, thought life, values, watch, 1 comment

Hot Topic: Donald Trump & the 2016 Election

Politics is a hot spot for many people. Everyone seems to get really lit up about who to vote for, what the candidates say or don’t say, the future of our country, moral underpinnings & HEAPS more. For his part, Donald Trump, has certainly escalated the emotional tone & conflict potential for our upcoming national election. 
My concern for those of us who follow Jesus has many facets:

  • I’m concerned that we will watch & listen to the candidates more than we pray for the election
  • I’m concerned that we allow politics to divide us more than we allow Jesus’ love to unite us
  • I’m concerned that we are deceived to think that human politics can resolve the broken & fallen nature of the human heart

Whether you like Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Carson, Rubio, Cruz, Bernie or whoever, let’s make the commitment to pray for our country & its leadership more than we worry or complain 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in enemies to intimacy, Genuine love, grow, hot topic, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, values, watch, 1 comment

hot topic part 2: same sex marriage :)

Thank you heaps for all of the feedback on my post about the same sex marriage topic!  It’s obviously a very sensitive topic for almost everyone and by the input I’ve received (some pleasant, some slippery and some hostile), I think it’s worth a final post on the topic.

I’ve been praying about this post for several days because I don’t want to grieve the Holy Spirit per Ephesians 4:29-32.  With that being said, here are a few questions to consider on the same sex marriage topic for prayerful reflection:

  • Who???  When we talk about this subject, to whom are we speaking or communicating?  Seems like we should think not only about what we say, but with whom we are communicating (seekers, Jesus’ followers, opponents to Jesus’ words, etc).  Jesus was super clear about different messages for different audiences – but all with the same motive
  • How???  How we communicate is a good peek into our motives & ultimately what’s in our hearts
  • What??? After thinking about our motives & audience, the content of our words are very important – what are we really saying?

I’m certainly up to speed with Paul’s words about homosexuality in 1Cor 6:9, Rom 1:26-32 & the relevant verses in Levitucs & the outcomes of Sodom & Gomorrah and I do not disagree with these words.  But I come back to the question of loving well from John 13:35 – the defining distinctive of Jesus’ followers is our love for each other.

To conclude, I believe that we can all find common ground in praying for our nation & our world.  Let’s agree to pray for our pastors, our political leaders, key influencers and let’s pray that Jesus lives well through our lives every day 🙂

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, Genuine love, grow, Holy Spirit, hot topic, listen, living, prayer, relationships, seeing Jesus, spiritual, values, watch, 1 comment

Managing to Love Well

I was recently on a family vacation & there were a few tense conversations with family members – nothing major, but some scrappy & small conflicts. I was thinking about these conversations this morning in my prayer time & was letting God know that I was frustrated. Fundamentally, I want to love well, but struggle with how to role out genuine love in my daily living. I felt like God spoke this into my heart, “Give Me permission to love through you rather than trying to love from you.”
This has been extremely helpful because I know that my own love is far too limited, but God’s love through me can be infinite. 

So let’s agree to let God love through us & let the fun begin! Remain tied into God’s love ,)

  

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, travel, values, watch, 0 comments

Hot Topic: Bikers, Brawls and Bullets

On Sunday, there was a massive fight among biker gangs in Waco, TX and it became extremely violent in a matter of seconds.  Law enforcement officials are now concerned that gang members from neighboring states and affiliated gang coalitions are now heading toward Texas to pick up the conflict and defend the honor of their gang members and associates.  Clearly, this is a bad situation and without some clear and rational thinking, this situation could deteriorate even further.  So let’s keep in mind a few helpful things:

  • pray:  pray that peace would prevail and that any plans of the devil would be put to confusion
  • conflict:  consider that with the Holy Spirit’s help, conflict can be more constructive than destructive
  • get the word out:  if biker gangs can be highly motivated to defend honor, then let us as followers of Jesus be highly motivated to live our love out loud & not with quiet back room whispers
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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, Genuine love, grow, Holy Spirit, hot topic, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, relationships, values, watch, 0 comments

winning

FinishLine   I love to win & I hate to lose – in pretty much everything.  So I automatically like all of the Bible verses that talk about me winning, being victorious, more than a conqueror, etc.  On the opposite end, the Bible verses that talk about sacrifice, losing my life, crucifixion, pain, . . . . these aren’t nearly as appealing to me as the winning verses.  But life seems to have both the winning and losing experiences wrapped into each day:  driving, competing at work / school, controversial conversations, competing against myself, etc.

I think that it can feel much better to win than lose, but let me throw out a few perks that can happen from losing:

  • losing can reveal our character when we might be at our lowest
  • empathy seems to grow better when we lose rather than win
  • winning can be sometimes be an impediment to connecting with someone
  • losing can be a place where strength, endurance and roots can grow
  • sometimes humility grows better in the soil of losing more than winning

Please don’t take this blog to mean that losing is everything.  On the flipside, winning isn’t everything either.  Maybe “everything” boils down to genuine love 🙂

#selah

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, Genuine love, grow, Jesus Chix, living, prayer, relationships, values, watch, 0 comments

making decisions

I have friends who hate to make decisions.  The bigger the decision, the worse the gridlock, to the point that they become virtually paralyzed.  I’m sure that some of their struggle with making decisions comes from some past challenges as well as some current insecurities that hide in dark corners of their mind, coming out to haunt at the most inopportune times.  So when I read this morning about Lot and Abraham, with Lot’s decision to live in Sodom, I think there could be some practical help available in this story for making decisions:

  • don’t let circumstances be the fundamental reason for a decision: Lot chose land that looked appealing, but maybe he knew that Sodom and Gomorrah weren’t top grade choices for cities in which to live
  • discuss conflict before making decisions:  the whole reason for Lot to move was partially driven by a conflict between Abraham’s and Lot’s shepherds
  • consider the choices that are available:  from reading this story, it doesn’t seem to me that Lot considered all of the options that were available (exchange some of his cattle wealth for gold, come under Abraham’s leadership, create a partnership, etc).
  • think about the consequences:  I seriously doubt that Lot would have chosen to live in Sodom had he known more about the people who lived there
  • Pray – when Lot made his decision, there’s no mention of him asking for divine input or guidance;  in contrast, God was highly involved with Abraham, maybe because Abraham was obedient and highly esteemed / treasured God’s input
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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, travel, values, watch, 0 comments