Café Chat July 3rd

Today’s topic:

When it comes to an issue or truth that you believe in, maybe even feel like God revealed that truth to you; how do you respond to another Christian that might have the opposite view from you? Do you feel like the way you respond lines up with how God would want you to respond?

Over the last few years I have worked to develop a relationship with God through the Holy Spirit. I’ve gone from a “Sunday Christian” to a woman who constantly seeks wisdom and discernment. Like anyone there are times when I stray, but for the most part I can honestly say that the greatest blessing for me today is seeking Him when there is no crisis in my life.

I’m providing that context to clarify how I might believe something I’m saying is “sanctioned.” There have been a few times when I have said something that needed to be said – a truth that seemed sanctioned but was not well received. As long as my words were delivered calmly and with love, and as long as I’m able to go back and revisit the discussion with a discerning heart and the words still feel sanctioned, then I feel that I’m lined up with God’s desires.

What we should not do, what we must guard against is quarreling with others.

Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Timothy 23-26)

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. (James 4:1-2)

So if God is pressing on my heart and the Spirit moves me to say something, I say what needs to be said. I do my best to speak kindly with the desire to instruct. If the response is disagreement but reasonable discussion, I might spend some time clarifying my point (after a quick prayer for intercession). If the response is flat out disagreement or an emotional argument, I move on.


Café Chat June 20th

Today’s topic:

Name 3 qualities or characteristics of a good/close friend.
Explain why the qualities or characteristics you listed are important to you in your friendships.

For someone to be counted as a close friend, they must be honest and faithful – faithful to God above all else, faithful to themself and faithful to others.

We are all prone to stray from God and there is no expectation that anyone on earth is perfect. But trust is a key element of the bond between friends and trust is not possible if the relationship is not founded on honesty and faithfulness.

The ulitimate model for friendship is found in our relationship with God (Father, Son & Holy Spirit). In spending time with Him, in seeking Him, in looking to please Him we develop the skills we need to be a friend to others.

This has certainly been thought-provoking.

NOTE: I am hoping to get honest, faithful feedback on the changes in my blog format. This is a work-in-progress but I’m very interested in your comments.

Café Chat June 13th

Today’s Topic:

Is there a deep hurt in your life/heart that you have not let God heal yet? If yes, are you ready to let God begin the work of healing your heart?

For those of you that answered “no” to the question above, has there been a hurt from your past that God has healed? If so, was the healing instant or a process?

I am blessed in my spiritual health these days. I am happy to report a well-being that allows me to answer “no” to the first question. In February I posted about an incident when God graced me with almost instant relief from my emotional pain. Another trial was a process – on both sides. The wounds built up over time and the healing took time. Over the period of a few months, there were a number of discussions with my small group that left me believing the group was better off without me. I prayed about it long and hard. My feelings had been hurt in that I truly believed these women didn’t actually like me. They might love me as we’re commissioned to love one another, like sisters love one another, but I suspected that I was an irritant like a burr under the saddle.

Fortunately, about that time work got very busy and I was not able to join our weekly discussions. God at work? I have no doubt. Time and distance allowed me to spend time in conversation with our Father. His consolations for me? “I am your God. My opinion of you is all that matters. Seek my approval and none other. I love you. You are mine.” Over and over, on and on. “I am your counselor. I am your friend. Keep your eyes on me. Look to me when you are lost and I will guide you.”

After a while, I found that I was healed. And coincidentally (not!) work lightened up and I was able to rejoin my friends. I know that as an obedient child of God I may occasionally be called to say something that convicts one of my sisters. Not because I’m being hurtful but because we are meant to be accountable to one another. Their words back to me may or may not be based on an emotional reaction. If I’m hurt, I must take it to God and let the Spirit guide me to a place of healing – either accepting the words as counsel or rejecting them by His counsel.

Café Chat May 30th

Click the Café Chat button to get the context for today’s topic:

“So today, I would like for us to share some of the words that were said to us, or words we said to others that were not comforting, or maybe even made the situation worse. Today’s sharing is not at all an exercise to condemn those around us who may have said things that were not good, but to help our community see what words can do if they are not filtered through Jesus.”

I cringe at the thought of the many times I may have hurt someone by speaking thoughtlessly. I’ve learned that often the best response to others’ grief is quiet sympathy (not empathy which implies I know how they feel). I might say something like “I’ve had similar experiences if you’d ever like to talk about it.”

There is one aspect of my life that is very difficult for me to talk about – parenthood (and grandparenthood). One of my grandchildren is adopted. She doesn’t live with my daughter, her birthmom. She lives with a couple in another part of the country. A couple who, when the adoption went off track gave up hope. Because I believed (and still believe) that God knows best and I was obeying the message I was hearing – I continued to work with both birth-parents to facilitate resolution. I cried rivers of tears during those dark days. Eventually the adoption was back on track. The adoptive Mom stayed with us for a few days, the last days that we saw and held our precious granddaughter. Even though the plan was to maintain an open adoption, the adoptive parents have since changed their minds and we’ve not held our granddaughter for 2 1/2 years. I’m grateful that they send pictures and we’ve stayed somewhat in touch over e-mail.

A year and a half ago my daughter and her oldest child, our grandson, came to stay with us. She was in trouble with the law, creditors, CPS… it’s still hard to think about some aspects of that time. She was not effectively parenting our grandson and that was obvious. The week before Christmas she announced she was taking our grandson to live with his aunt (the father’s sister). She drove halfway across the country to drop him off (they met at a fastfood restaurant halfway between our place and his new home). Another river of tears flowed. I’m crying now. It’s hard not to mourn. We do stay in touch – after all, they’re extended members of our family. We visited them before Christmas. We talk on the phone and over skype (we love skype!). But it’s not the same as being together and it’s certainly not “traditional”.

My daughter is getting her life together, finally, but I don’t know that she’ll be ready to parent any time soon. By the time she is, well, I’m trusting God to help us work through what will be a difficult conversation. Our grandson is doing so well with his new Mom. My daughter is not his Mom.

So…needless to say sometimes this topic is a little touchy for me. It can be awkward trying to explain the whereabouts of my grandchildren. And no, I don’t think anyone can tell me they know how I feel. I do know that everything happens for a reason and I trust God. That’s all we need to hear when we’re lost in a mournful situation.

Café Chat May 16th

Today’s topic:

“If Fear or Finances (or any other stumbling block) were not a problem, is there something you have always wanted to do or try that you have not done?
Do you think eventually you will do the thing you mentioned above? Explain your answer. “

I can’t speak in terms of something I’ve *always* wanted to do but haven’t done…but I can speak of a relatively recent/renewed desire. I picture myself one day writing full time. Fiction and non-fiction.

When I was in high school, almost 30 years ago, I had dreams and aspirations of writing. Then, life happened. I married young and children right away. When I went back to college, I investigated getting a degree in something (Journalism? R/T/F? Communications?) that involved writing. But God had different plans for me, and I ended up back in Engineering. And that degree has certainly served me well.

The years went by and my career blossomed. Blessings abounded. I certainly felt like I had found my calling and any thought of writing was far from my mind. A few years ago hubby and I went on a Cursillo weekend. On the first day we were asked to write down our dream and I wrote “be a writer.” If anyone had told me on that day that I would in a relatively short time have an article published, be writing almost every day as a blogger, or that I would be studying the scripture and writing articles with burgeoning scriptural confidence, I don’t know that I would have believed them.

Now I trust in God’s plans for me. I believe that those plans include writing. I see that some day I could retire from my current career and be a writer. In God’s good time.

Café Chat April 11th

Today’s topic:

If you referred to Philippians 4:8 as a standard, would there be something or some situation you would stop doing, or give up completely? (Or at least begin trying to change with the Lord’s help as I am with the situation I discussed today). As always, specifics are great, but feel free to use generalities.

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. “ Philippians 4:8

My challenge is that I tend to say what I think thereby revealing an unkind streak. “Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.” Proverbs 12:18

So, if I were fixing my thoughts on not just the truth, but the honorable truth, eliminating thoughts that are not lovely, not admirable, then I would not find myself occasionally apologizing for things I’ve said.

A coworker accused me of “torpedoing him” during a recent meeting (a few directors and a dozen underlings were also in attendance). He then gave me a verbal smackdown. Since I was right in my position, one of the directors proceeded to lambaste him (on the point I was making, not for the smackdown). I spent a few minutes looking angelic while he got a dressing down. I spoke the truth. I was right. But I was not honorable and the point I was making – certainly not worthy of praise.

If I could have a do-over, I would have followed up with him after the meeting. Even if that path took more effort on my part, at least no apology or smoothing of ruffled feathers would be required. This is definitely something I need to address in myself.

It’s not just about being true and right, but the focus is on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. I think that if I run my thoughts through that checklist before I speak, I will reflect the wisdom of Proverbs 12:18. How much better to heal than to cut? Better to say nothing than to wound someone with my words.

Praise God, let Your will be done.

Café Chat March 21st

Today’s chat topic is based on Galatians 5:22-23:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
After looking at the verse in Galatians, what specific “fruit” (love, joy, peace…) do you find yourself lacking in your daily life? Give an example if you can.What circumstance in your life shows your weakness with the specific “fruit” you mentioned above.

Although I recently lamented my tendency to be impatient, after some introspection and time spent with my young-adult children I’m cutting myself some slack on that one. Thinking in terms of days recently passed I see that I am struggling with faithfulness. Or maybe I should say “faithfulness in all things.”

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4:10)

God gives us gifts and lets us choose how we will use those gifts. In the Parable of the Talents we learn the importance of using our gifts and the consequence if we choose to bury our gifts. Bury your gifts and you can look forward to weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I have been whining and complaining (weeping and gnashing teeth) in my prayers because I’m trying to be obedient with the gifts God has given me, but I’m looking for earthly reward and not finding satisfaction. This morning I woke up knowing I will continue faithfully doing what I’m doing. I look to God, who is eternally faithful, to recognize and reward me in His way. I long to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

So, even though I’ve been weak in my faith, I feel much stronger today and I trust that next week my answer to this question (if asked again) will be different.

Praise God!