Tag Archives: family

What’s Attractive?

What’s attractive? Ask a woman, and she might say tall, dark and handsome. Ask a guy, and he might say curves in all the right places. When it comes to being attracted to people overall, I think it’s more than physical attraction.

My last post was about family, specifically church family. Later a friend reminded me that family is more than our biological family, and it’s more than our church family. She said it another way, but I heard it said recently, that we can see God in all people. It doesn’t matter if they are Atheist, Jewish, Muslim, etc. God created all people, and therefore they were made in His image. It is possible to see God in even those that deny His existence.

There is a common thread that links us all together whether we like it or not, and it’s our Creator. I love my friend because I see Jesus in her in so many ways. I see it in the way she is sensitive to the needs of others, in the way she celebrates my victories with me, in her creativity, and in the way she loves. It doesn’t matter that she is not Christian because I still see God in her no matter her belief system. Because I love God so much, how can I not love her?

If we limit our spiritual family to only those who are on exactly the same page in their faith, then we alienate nearly all Christians not to mention people of other faiths. When we include those that have other faiths or have different views than our own, even within our own denomination, we open our hearts to loving more of God’s creation. The family circle was never meant to be closed. There was not meant to be a periphery of those of different religious views. Otherwise Jesus wouldn’t have commanded us to go forth and make disciples. When you close the circle, you close the world to the kind of love only God can offer.

To my friend, I love you because we have the same maker and I see Him in you. I hope you understand this statement, and see it as the compliment that it is. You were made in the image of a perfect God.

Are you willing to love someone despite their religious preference?

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Extended Family

Whether you are single or have a family of four, when you enter into relationship with God, you also enter into a family of believers. It doesn’t matter if you were looking for an extended family. You found one.

During the last several days I have spent a lot of time with my family. Wednesday night we sent one of our sisters off to Virginia to be with her family during a trying time. Like a family, we shared in her sadness yet we celebrated knowing her. We look forward to the next time we will see each other. Thursday night I attended Q Commons, a conference about improving the community we live in. Guess what! I met more of my brothers and sisters. My family continues to grow. Friday night I surprised my former church family by coming to their church Moon Festival potluck. The hugs and friendly greetings made me feel right at home. Yesterday morning I met my sister Sharon at the beach to watch her husband swim in a two mile race. We cheered on my dear brother as he crossed the finish line. Today I went to church where I got to celebrate God’s grace and mercy with even more family. I met new people, new brothers and sisters.

A church is not a gathering of people where you just go for a few hours to fulfill your religious duty for the week. It is a family that celebrates together, cries with each other, prays over its members, carries one another through the hard times, encourages, shares a meal, cares for its community. A family that no matter how many miles or how long it’s been since they’ve seen one another, they’re still family.

Time and time again I find that when I run into a fellow Christian on the street, no matter how long it’s been, you just pick up where you left off, and if you left off in a bad place, you move past it. It’s the way God transforms people, he helps us put our egos down and helps us cover each other with mercy and grace.

Thank a brother or sister for the ways they have supported you, appreciate you, loved you. It will mean so much for them to hear it.

Family Feud-less

Fun with the family Labor Day weekend 2014

Fun with the family Labor Day weekend 2014

Anyone who has a family knows that family members can get on each other’s nerves. When I was younger I let every little annoyance drive me nuts. If something was going the way I had imagined then it wasn’t worth taking part. As I’ve become older, and hopefully more mature, I’ve come to realize that if anything is guaranteed, it’s that almost nothing will go the way I imagined because my imagination is like a mainstream Hollywood movie where everything falls gently into place. The fact is, people who know each other as well as most families know each other have moments of resentment, disgust, frustration, and the list goes on. Disagreement is a symptom and/or side effect of a close-knit relationship.

After spending one of the best three-day weekends with the family I recognize that my past frustration and annoyances were all about my intolerance of not getting my way. Once I was able to let that go (for the most part) I could really enjoy them no matter what their annoying habit, unorthodox opinion, or deafening TV volume. Maybe with maturity I have found that I have those same quirks within me that perhaps have a tendency to annoy others, but just as I have become comfortable with who I am and all my crazy quirks I have also become comfortable with several other people’s.

Before we took our little road trip up the coast for the weekend I went on the Google Play store to download some new music to add to our vacation playlist. As soon as I logged on I noticed Katy Perry’s entire latest CD was free. Normally I wouldn’t download a whole Katy Perry album, but it was FREE. It turns out there were only a few songs I really liked from the whole thing, but one in particular got my attention. The song is titled “Love Me”, and it’s about a girl who loses herself in fear of losing someone else. It seems we often compromise ourselves to gain relationship with others, or we neglect to compromise at all and lose relationship with others. This is tricky because we don’t want to compromise on the big stuff, but relationship, even among family members, calls for some compromise. Saturday I had a headache and all I wanted was to go back to the house and take a nap, but my mom wanted to take a hike. Instead of complaining I took a nap in the car while she hiked, and our day was so much more peaceful because of it. My mom got out her energy so she could sleep good that night, and I got to take some Advil and nap off some of my headache.

When I reflect on the New Testament I see images of Jesus, after a long day of healing and teaching in crowds of people all wanting his attention (he must have been exhausted), humbly healing one more or praying all night or going out on a boat to preach to a huge audience. And Jesus says that what you do to the least of these you have done for him. When you humble yourself to listen to one more banjo-filled folk song at full volume when all you want to hear is a good worship song, or you stop at Java Detour just so your loved one can get an extra-large oreo latte even though you are exhausted, you are doing this for Jesus because even these simple things are acts of humility and acceptance and love. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13)

So, when your son wakes you up at 4:00 a.m. with nightmares or your mom asks you to repeat yourself ten times or your sister fails to call you back, remember that love is patient, kind, and not self-seeking. Hope you learned as much from my three-day weekend as I did.

Just for kicks I’ve added Katy Perry’s song Love Me to this post. I think it has a positive message and a fun beat, and it was part of the inspiration for this post.

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Grace Unveiled

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In some cultures and religions if one were to convert to another religion they would be disowned by family or would even be persecuted. Today I was asked by a dear friend what I would do if one of my future children decided to convert to Islam from Christianity. My answer was very long. Like my friend who is of another religion I would accept my child because family is first. Not only would I accept my child, but my faith community, my church body would too. My friend asked how can a body of Christian faith possibly accept someone who was formerly Christian now Muslim.
My answer was this. Jesus gives us the great commandment. Love the Lord your God with your whole being, and love your neighbor as yourself. So basically, love God, love yourself, love your neighbor. If the greatest commandment is to love, which in some scripture is actually translated “grace”, then I am called to accept my child, my friend, my coworker whatever their faith.
How can one accept a family member or a friend that they have taken time nurturing in the Christian faith if they convert? It may seem like time wasted to some, but it can be accomplished. Even the most broken-hearted parent or friend can show grace through the power of the Holy Spirit who stirs up words of wisdom and encouragement, speaks truth in love, and heals broken relationships.
Is there someone in your life who has broken your heart by offending you and God? Maybe they were unfaithful, dishonest, deceiving, abusive. You can find a way to show mercy and grace through the Holy Spirits counsel.
If you need a starting point visit a website I have found very helpful, http://www.iamsecond.com. There are videos there on all topics. Once you watch the video reflect in silence or through journaling. You might want to write a letter to that person, and you may not even send it, but find healing in writing down your message of forgiveness and grace.
I hope you have found this post helpful. Please leave your comments and likes if you so desire.

Leaving the Rut Behind

Stuck in a rut? Every couple of years, sometimes more often, I feel stuck in a rut. While meeting with a friend one day she asked me, “If you don’t like what you do right now, then what do you want to do? What would be your ideal job?” I described my top four or five things I enjoy doing, and suddenly I paused and said with surprise, “So I just described my current job.” Why do we become so dissatisfied with our circumstances, especially our jobs or our families, when often they are exactly what we want and need?

I heard my pastor tell the story of a young man who met a beautiful woman. Her skin was perfectly flawless, like an angel. The way she dressed was so chic and attractive. Her elegance took his breath away. Of course this attraction swept him off his feet. He immediately fell in love with her. The young couple got married, but soon after the man began questioning why his wife spent so much money on clothing and cosmetics. She always had to have the latest fashions and skin care treatments. His paychecks would have been better off going straight to the salons she visited on a weekly basis. Frustrated with his wife the man went to his pastor. Surely his pastor would advise him to correct his wife’s behavior, or better yet, tell him to file for divorce. After hearing all his marital woes, the pastor asked the man, “Why did you fall in love with your wife?” The man replied, “Because she was beautiful like an angel with flawless skin and elegant style.” The pastor persisted, “Is she still beautiful and elegant with flawless skin?” “Yes, she is,” the man replied. His pastor continued, “If your wife has not changed, who has?”

This was pretty much the question my friend asked me while discussing my discontent with my job. My response, in hindsight, was a poor excuse for a response. I basically fumbled for a decent reply to her question. Some of it made sense, but it basically comes down to losing sight of my purpose there. Today brought just one of many profound reminders of my purpose. In the afternoon I always await the smiling face of my coworker at the door of my office. She usually has something encouraging to say, and today was one of the best afternoon encouragement nuggets I’ve had in a long time. She told me how she’s experiencing God’s joy in her life even after recently struggling with some hard life changes, and for a few moments I loved my job. If I were to keep my eyes on Him even when my coworker’s smiling face was not at my door, I would always experience joy at my job, no matter the circumstances.

Is there an area in your life where you are experiencing discontent? Examine the reasoning behind it. Perhaps it is not your job or your spouse that has changed, but your focus that has changed. It’s not too late. Hit the reset button before bitterness and depression set in. This prayer will help you reset your thinking. Continue praying each morning, and celebrating God’s goodness and grace. You are sure to see a shift in your focus and in your joy.

Heavenly Father, help us to see the world through your eyes. May we no longer look through the lens of the world, but through the lens of Love. May we think of whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, any excellence, anything worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). When our focus is on You, the embodiment of love, our focus is to love. When we love we cannot help but experience joy and peace that passes all understanding. Fill our hearts today with the Holy Spirit, that we would give from the overflow. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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