#RelationshipGoals

Hey y’all… how’s your mama and ’em?

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 10.04.26 AM“Relationships” have been a hot topic around our house in recent weeks.  As my kids are getting into their later teen years and developing more friendships and beginning to date, their father and I have tried to convey the importance of Godly relationships.  1 Corinthians 15:33 reads, “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”   Beyond the obvious reason of wanting to make sure that our kids make good choices in the friends they choose to keep so that they continue on the “straight and narrow”, we also do not want them to needlessly suffer from attaching themselves to people that do not have their best interests at heart.  In Proverbs 4:23, Solomon warns, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”  The more relationships that we enter into that leave us heartbroken, the more “gun shy” we become about developing new relationships in the future.  It also creates more baggage that we carry into our future relationships.

Relationships are of the utmost importance to God.  God created man in His image to commune with and then made woman after noting, “It is not good for man to be alone.”  (Any young mother who’s ever left her small children alone with their father for a few hours can attest to this and will agree wholeheartedly!  Can I get an amen?)  Joking aside, God made us to need each other.  In addition to that, I believe that God gave us each other to reveal more about His nature to us, and by doing so use the relationships we share with one another as a testimony to the world.

In the Trinity God reveals Himself as three persons: God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  And in each of those persons, He reveals Himself in the image of three of the most vital human relationships:  parent, spouse, and friend.  Romans 8:15 refers to God as our “Abba Father” which translated means “Daddy, Daddy”.  Verses 16 and 17 continue referring to us as His “children” and “heirs”.  In the New Testament, Christ is referred to as the Bridegroom and the church as His bride.  Revelation 19:7 says, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.”  In regards to the Holy Spirit, John 14:26 from The Message says, “The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you.”

So that we can better understand who God wants to be in our lives, He has laid it out in terms we can understand.   As a parent, I am much more aware of my behavior to God my Father in the way that I relate to my children.  This week my oldest child has called me a few times.  Once when she was having an asthma attack, once when she needed me to take her to the doctor (because she still can’t drive due to an injury), once when her phone was not working correctly, and once because she wanted me to proofread an assignment she was given.  Knowing how much time she spends talking to her boyfriend, upon receiving her last request, I replied, “Why don’t you ask him?”  She replied, “Why would I?”  Reasonable enough.  While her boyfriend is a smart young man, he does not have the resources available to help in the way that I can.  Yet, how many times do we put God in that same spot.  We approach God as Santa Claus… “I want… I need… Can you?” without stopping to say, “Hi, Daddy.  Can I just love on you and thank you for being so good to me?”  On the flip side, because I love my child, with each request that she makes (and when I’m not trying to make a point), I reply, “Yes, of course.”  I want her in good health.  I want her to have good grades.  And heaven knows, I want her to have a way to communicate with me when she does need me!  Matthew 7:9-11 reads, “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”  It is because of the closeness of my relationship with Dacey that she knows she can always approach me with any request.  It is because she rests in my love for her just as I rest in my Heavenly Father’s love for me.

Last week as stories starting filling the internet of the heroes who helped one another during the Las Vegas massacre, one story especially caught my attention.  James Warren Melton wrote this of his son and daughter-in-law:  “As Sonny and Heather ran away from the sniper, he always kept his own body between the danger and his wife. A running human shield. Heather says he had his hands on her shoulders and she felt him get hit and start to fall.”  Sonny’s sacrifice for his wife beautifully reflects Christ’s sacrifice for His Bride.  Sonny died living out Ephesians 5:25 that says, “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.”  In most marriage relationships, the call to lay down your life for your wife isn’t so literal.  For a marriage to be successful, you have to want the good of your spouse more than the good of yourself.  My husband demonstrates this by working overtime when we have a hard time making ends meet or by cooking and doing laundry when I am sick.  I respond to Tommy’s love with adoration and submission (and by buying out Wal-Mart’s stock of chocolate covered cherries for him each Christmas season).  Paul says in Ephesians 5:7-8, “Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”  In other words, Christ died for us before we even said, “I do.”  How can we not respond to this great love with anything else than full surrender?

The Holy Spirit is often the lesser talked about of the Trinity.  I think that is in part because who is He to us is misunderstood.  Different Bible translations refer to the Holy Spirit as our comforter, counselor, and advocate.  I like that The Message translation calls him our “friend”.  Proverbs 18:24 (NIV) says, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”  As I think of my closest friends, I can honestly say that God has blessed me good.  They are there for me always.  They cheer me on at my best, and grieve with me at my worst.  They tell me truths I need to hear (even when I don’t want to hear it).  At all times they are challenging me in my walk with God.  And as they share their experiences, we grow closer to each other and closer to God.  This is how the Holy Spirit works in us as well.  He is that still, small voice that shows us how to respond in any given situation.  He is the boldness that helps us step out in ways we never thought we could. He roots us on, encourages us, challenges us, and reveals God to us.  He is our friend who sticks closer than a brother!3-Ways-to-Build-Better-Relationships-with-Your-Customers

In every human relationship, our goals should remain the same: 1. Growing with one another into a closer walk with God, and 2. Serving as a reflection of who God is to the world.  If our relationships with others do not do that, we need to step back and find out what is missing.  Are you responding as a parent who wants their child to freely love God as Father, a spouse who wants only the best for your significant other, a friend who is there at all times?  Do you reflect a child that loves their parent, adores your spouse, and treasures your friends.  Galatians 5:6 reads, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”  Are the relationships you are currently in accomplishing that?  If not, what are some ways that you can improve your relationships to better honor God?  Begin small.  Start a list of “Relationship Goals”.  Pray over it and put it into action.  And watch as God transforms your family, marriage, and friendships.

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Have a blessed week, y’all!

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Hey y’all… how’s your mama and ’em?

list-of-all-dog-breeds-in-the-world-breed-of-dog-list-of-all-dog-breeds-az-with-picturesOf the over four hundred dog breeds recognized across the world, each breed of dog was designed and developed for a specific purpose.  Some were bred to herd, some to retrieve, some to “go to ground”, some to guard, and some just to be lap warmers.

Often it is the features that make a dog unusual that dictate its most distinct purpose.

For instance:

A Poodle’s coat texture is kinky to make it more water resistant.

A Dachsund’s body is long so that it could burrow under ground hunting rodents.

Hound dog’s are bred with larger ears and longer snouts so that the ears pick up scents in the wind and their long noses allow them to smell more from a further distance.

Regardless of our ideas for the dog, if it is not an inherent trait of their specific breed possesses, our best efforts to train them to do something other than their intended purpose are often futile.

God made humans much the same way.

Ephesians 2:10 says,

 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

God made each one of us on purpose and for a purpose.  Sometimes it is the things that others consider to be unusual about us that make us more capable of the tasks God designed us to accomplish.  And sometimes it is the things that irritate us the most about another person, that give them the ability to live out their destiny.

The truth is we are all created by God for a reason.  We are all made different so that we can accomplish the overall task.  We can’t all be singers, preachers, missionaries, and so on and so on.  But together, we can all accomplish the mission God set before us to “GO INTO ALL THE WORLD”.

For me – it’s my quirky love of dogs.  God gave me a love for dogs and has enabled me to use them to share His love with others.  It’s different and an “outside of the box” kind of ministry, but through our therapy dogs, we are able to reach people who would never go to church, read a Bible, or say a prayer.  Yet these same people will excitedly invite and welcome smooches from an adorable pooch. Galatians 5:6 says, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”  Therapy dogs have opened the door for us to do just that.

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Rascal, a Chinese Crested, is poses for a portrait after competing in the World’s Ugliest Dog Competition in Petaluma, California on June 26, 2015. Quasi Modo went on to win first prize as the ugliest dog in the competition. AFP PHOTO/JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

God’s plan for each of us is unique.  We all have different life experiences, personalities,

talents, (and quirks) that make us specifically suited for His purpose.  Jeremiah 29:11 reads, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord . “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11

Never allow your quirks to keep you from being the one-of-a-kind, limited edition, masterpiece God created you to be.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made!  Celebrate what makes you different as you seek God’s will for your life.

Have a good week, y’all!

I Have This Hope

Hey y’all… how’s your mama and ‘em?

263623-If-Nothing-Ever-Changed-There-d-Be-No-ButterfliesI have always been mesmerized by butterflies.  Their effortless flight is breathtaking, and the bright, vivid colors of their wings are simply spectacular.  God did not leave out a single detail when creating them. For many people, butterflies also symbolize “hope”.  One of my favorite quotes says, “If nothing changed, there would be no butterflies.”

Several years ago when my children were much younger, one observed, “We’re like the butterflies.  We start out as caterpillars, go into a cocoon stage, and then God releases us to be butterflies.”  We had been discussing new life in Christ, and even at such a young age, Isaac was able to understand and relate the symbolism.  A few days after that conversation, he caught a butterfly and brought to me.

I was a bit curious as to why the lovely creature allowed itself to be captured and sit with us without flying away.  Upon further inspection, I realized that this graceful beauty had a hole in its wing making it incapable of flight.  A storm that had passed through our area in recent days had damaged its wings leaving it battered and torn.  It was a sad reality that often reflects the state of our own hearts.

We tend to think if we can just get that promotion, just have that dream home, just be understood, just lose the weight, or just be accepted by a particular group of people that our lives will be hunky-dory.  It is not so.  We will always have another mountain to climb and another test to pass.

The Word says,  “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”  (1 Peter 4:12-13)

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Have the storms of life brought you down and kept you from soaring?  Is there something in your past that is holding you back from all that God intended you to be?  Give it to Him.  He makes beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3), and He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3).

Don’t lose hope!  Ecclesiastes 3:11 assures us, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”  That includes you, friend.

Have a blessed week, y’all!

My Chains are Gone; I’ve Been Set Free

Hey y’all… how’s your mama and ‘em?

My Chains Are Gone, I've Been Set FreeIt’s no secret that I am a sucker for a dog in need.  So last week when I saw a local pastor’s post on Facebook about three dogs abandoned in crates on a vacant lot that belonged to one of his church members, I wasted no time reaching out to ask how I could help.  Within an hour a plan was made for me to pick the pups up later that evening.  I am blessed with a husband that shares my compassion for animals, but I wasn’t quite sure how he’d react to finding out we were bringing three home.  We were on the phone and I said, “Well, we’re picking up a dog tonight.  And it has a friend.  And that friend also has a friend.”  He laughed but agreed we needed to help the pups out.

When we arrived to pick the dogs up, they appeared fearful.  One even growled as we approached its crate.  As soon as we arrived home, we took them one by one to clean them up.  I washed and then passed them over to my husband and children to dry.  Once we were finished, we invited the three little dogs into our living room to play.  There was an immediate change in each of their demeanors.  They went from fearful to grateful in a matter of seconds.  Each seemed to recognize that all we had done for them was in an effort to make them more comfortable.  They showered us with kisses as they took turns running from one family member to another.

I don’t know how long these three dogs had been in the crates before they were found.  There was food and water in the crates with them.  My daughter pointed out that what could have been seen by someone as an act of mercy, ultimately would have served as a cruel and slow death had someone else not found these pups in time.  I believe the dogs had spent an enormous part of their lives in their crates.  When we would return them to their crates before bed, each walked into their own, individual crate as if though out of habit.  Upon being freed the next morning, they each danced with excitement.

As I thought about these three dogs living a life confined to a small enclosure, I remembered a time in my life when I was a captive to a prison of my own making.  The lies of the enemy held me in bondage.  Chains of regret stole my joy.  I knew Christ, but I wasn’t living in the fullness of His grace.  2 Corinthians 5:17 assures us that when we live a life in Christ, we become new creations.  It says that the old has passed away and the new has come!  Salvation opens the door to the prison in which sin enslaved us, but we still have to make the decision to walk out of it.  Galatians 5:1 says, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”  When you come to know Christ, your past is over and done.  He tells us in Isaiah 43:25, ““I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”  Because of God’s goodness, we are free!

Munchkin

Two of the three dogs that were found have already been adopted.  The third dog, we named Munchkin, and are continuing to foster.  All three dogs are enjoying their new lives and the freedom that has come with it.  I hope you also are walking in the fullness of life and freedom Christ has offered you!

Have a blessed week, y’all!