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Archive for November, 2011

If you have a family, you will experience some level of conflict.  We are all human and so we fail each other, even those we love.  But how we handle that conflict makes all the difference in how much we enjoy those relationships long term.

In the book Boundaries Face to Face, Cloud and Townsend address the importance of communicating boundaries.   “By setting boundaries we can take responsibility for the lives and gifts God has given us: ‘Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life’ (Prov.4:23) Boundaries protect our values, feelings, time, energy, and attitudes.  When a person says to another, ‘I want you to stop criticizing me in public,’ he is setting a protective boundary.”

The authors go on to encourage how boundaries are best communicated.  “Our connections are best when they are truthful, and our truth is best when we are connected.  The Bible calls this truth in love: ‘Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ’ (Eph.4:15).”

No question, communicating boundaries is scary for many of us.  While I may want to clear the air and make things right, I also feel reluctant to rock the boat any more and cause more stress in the relationship.  This fear is based on reality, as past experiences haven’t always had completely happy results.  We fear the potential negative responses such as anger and blame in conversations about healthy boundaries.  But God has called us to be in relationship with our family.  We have been placed there for a purpose and regardless of how the other person chooses to respond, God still wants us to take appropriate steps towards heathy boundaries.  He will give us the strength to maintain good boundaries and the grace to “tell the truth in love” as we lean on His wisdom and power daily.

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This week we are looking at ways to enjoy family…not always the easiest when our rough edges rub against each other.  Like sandpaper, those rough edges can go from annoying to downright painful.  But it isn’t hopeless!  Our quote today comes from a friend who didn’t always fully appreciate the value of her family.  Here is her perspective on enjoying family:

Growing up, my extended family lived thousands of miles away and most holidays were celebrated with just our small family consisting of my parents, my sister and myself. As a rebellious teenager, I did not appreciate the value of family. My parents invested not only money and energy, but LOVE. Due to my rebellion, they were making many more deposits into the “family love and relationship account” than I was. Sure, I participated – but I wasn’t all in.

I was 25 and engaged to my husband when I finally realized how much my parents had put into our relationship, and how much I had taken advantage of that. This Thanksgiving, I have so much to be thankful for. I am so thankful for loving, Godly parents that love each other and love their children. I’m thankful for the opportunity to make deposits into the “family account.” Most of all, I am thankful for a loving God who sent His Son to be the sacrifice for our sins – talk about the ultimate deposit!”

So today, what are some ways we can we make deposits of love and promote joy in our family relationships?

“Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”  I Corinthians 13:4-7

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Yesterday we looked at I Corinthians 13 as the foundation for truly enjoying family time with those who may or may not be easy to enjoy.  Today, a friend shares with us her own practical hint on enjoying her family.  So simple, yet so true.  We need to take time to listen.

“My youngest child is nearly three, and when he is truly trying to get my attention, he will take his two precious hands and place them earnestly on my cheeks. His approach is tender and a visual reminder of my need to listen. Often, in the course of parenthood, I have been so caught up in my daily tasks to sit and truly listen. When I take the time to do so, I am delighted to find that in the stories, prayers, and hearts of my children, God gives me true pleasure. Their words bring a smile to my face and a lightness to my step. I am reminded of both Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42 in which Mary sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what Jesus was saying. Martha, however, missed out on His words because her tasks had consumed and distracted her. I long to be like Mary to my children and to my Lord, a woman who listens lovingly and wholeheartedly to those she dearly loves.”

“[Martha] had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations…”  Luke 10:39-40

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…”  James 1:19

 

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This past month of November at Given the Time has focused on enjoying various aspects of our lives…faith, change, friendship.  With our Thanksgiving celebrations fresh in our mind and more holiday family time ahead, it seems appropriate to end our series on a week about enjoying family.  Because the real life truth of the matter is it isn’t always easy to enjoy those nearest and dearest to our hearts.

To launch this week properly and to align our hearts with God’s Word on the topic, we can look to I Corinthians 13.  This chapter forces us to face the truth about our own attitude towards others and causes us to stop focusing so much on how they are treating us.  This chapter gives specifics about relating to others in positive and helpful ways.  It defines love and it paves the way, if we really take it to heart, for enjoying time and growing relationships with our family.

Please take the time to read the whole chapter if possible, even if you have read it many times before, and pray that God will allow His Truth to penetrate your mind as it relates to ways you can enjoy your family this holiday season.  After all,”Love never fails.”

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Biblical Insight for Enjoying Friendship:  Good friends are loyal friends.

Loyalty in friendship has many faces.  Sometimes loyalty is encouraging and upbeat for the benefit of others.  That same loyalty may require speaking the truth in love, as the testimony from yesterday’s post highlighted.  Yet another aspect of loyal friendship is the willingness to keep a confidence and not gossip.  And on that note, loyalty also can involve forgiving friends who fail you.  Read on for one lady’s experience:

“I have learned that one of the best ways to enjoy and develop my friendships with others is by striving to be a safe and loyal friend for them.  Kind of the idea of the Golden Rule applied directly to friendship.  Sometimes I fail, but it is my goal!

Years ago, I had a close friend take words I spoke confidentially and pass them along to others.   She certainly thought she was doing it for the best, but my heart still was broken when those things I had confided just in her were repeated and passed along.  It was hard to forgive, and it changed the dynamic of our relationship for awhile as I was more hesitant about what I said to her.

I have failed to be a loyal friend as well.  In moments of not thinking, or in an effort to help someone out, I have spoken too much and broken confidence.  It makes me squirm to admit it, but it is true!  And so all I can do at that point is seek forgiveness, and offer forgiveness when I have been offended, and I pray to do better at being loyal in my friendships.  Being loyal is key to enjoying friendship.”

“…a gossip separates close friends.” Proverbs 16:28b

“He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”  Proverbs 17:9

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Happy Thanksgiving!

With hearts filled with gratitude and thanksgiving, we thank You, dear God.

Thank you for the gift of friendship You have brought to our lives.  “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…”  James 1:17

Thank you, our Father, for showing us what friendship should look like.  “A friend loves at all times…”  Proverbs 17:17  “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:13  “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

And best of all, thank you, Lord Jesus, that You chose us and You call us friend.  “You are my friends if you do what I command…I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”  John 15:14,15

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Today’s Biblical Insight for Enjoying Friendship:  Good friends go deeper than sweet-talk and flattery.

Who doesn’t enjoy friends who say only positive things and tell us just what we want to hear?  These are the kinds of friends you take shopping if you don’t really care how big you look in the jeans.  Right?  But the truth is, in real life when it comes down to real issues that are way bigger than a new pair of jeans, we need people around us who will tell the truth.   A real friend will risk anger and frustration in a relationship if there is a possibility of helping someone she cares about.  Read below for one lady’s experience:

“I have had a few dear friends in my lifetime, and one of the defining qualities that placed them in my category of dear friend is the fact that they wouldn’t hesitate to talk straight with me when it was necessary.  Painful though it may be at times, they call me on it when I get too negative, on my un-submissive attitude, on lack of forgiveness…

‘Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.’  Proverbs 27:6

Several years ago I had fallen in to a trap of doing too many ‘good’ things.  My schedule was way out of balance and my priorities were all mixed up…I was not surprisingly an emotional mess and it was impacting my physical and spiritual life as well.  In this time frame, I went to visit a friend who knows me well and lives out of town.  She listened patiently as I vented and talked, and talked and vented some more.   And at long last she looked me in the eye and confronted me with the reality of my choices.

My thoughts raced at her response!  She just didn’t understand the big picture.  She sure wasn’t being very sympathetic.  How dare she judge…

My friend loved me enough to say something that kind of ticked me off, but in the end was very helpful in getting me back on path.  She told me “the truth in love.”  The following year or two began a process of healing as I realigned priorities and balanced my schedule to better please God, not myself or others.

While I can’t honestly say I had fun hearing her straight talk in the moment, I have so enjoyed the fruit of her words and I truly enjoy the depth of friendship that my friend acted on that day.”

 

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