hot topic: Israel, Gaza, Palestine & Hamas

If you’ve been watching the news of late, you’ve probably heard about the recent escalation of tension between Israel & Palestine.  Over the last month or so, the hostilities in this region have become increasingly deadly to the point that Israel is considering the use of ground forces to move into the Gaza strip.  Regardless of your political opinions or persuasions, let’s join together & pray for peace in this region.  Indeed, all of the Middle East seems to be in a state of tremendous upheaval & in desperate need of prayer.  Please join me with a few quick actions:

  1. pray that the leaders in Israel & Palestine will have wisdom
  2. pray for the general population to say “yes” to peace & “no” to violence
  3. pray that each person may have the grace & power to forgive others for the pain that they’re experiencing
  4. pass along this blog to your friends to increase the awareness & prayer level for this very strategic area in our world

extra

It seems like we all want the “extra” perk – we buy the shampoo that has 25%more for the same price, we look for the value meal, we look for the guy who serves ice cream with a little extra on his scoops, . . . . extra time, more roi, . . . . extra.

Let’s also look at the little ways that we can add some “extra”:

  • extra patience with the person learning to use the new computer system,
  • extra grace for the phone agent with the heavy accent,
  • extra forgiveness for our mate who unknowingly said something hurtful,
  • extra time on the parking meter for the person who will take our spot,
  • extra friendly to the cranky check out person at the grocery store

Let’s go the “extra mile” 🙂

boomslang

Boomslang-G09490

Happy Monday to you!  So you don’t think I’ve taken up cussing as my side hobby, a boomslang is a poisonous snake in Africa.  When it bites it’s victim, it’s venom is highly toxic and disables any blood clotting.  As a result, if a boomslang bites you, unless you receive a healthy dose of anti venom, you’ll die from bleeding out within probably 24-48 hours – gory & gruesome!

In my thinking, the devil is alot like a boomslang – slithery, slippery, sneaky & cunning.  I think that one of the primary “bites” the devil uses to poison us isn’t like the overt attack of a lion or a bear making an outright offensive leap.  Instead, I think the devil more often attempts to use a boomslang poison on us, someone offending us.

People can say / do things that can be very offensive (both intentionally & unintentionally).  What people say & do to us isn’t nearly as important as our reaction.  Ingesting unforgiveness is like letting the boomslang venom pump through our veins without any anti-venom.  Eventually, we bleedout & our relationships fall apart.  Forgivness is the anti-venom that we need to readily & generously apply.  Don’t let the venom of unforgiveness settle into your heart!

do you need help to forgive?

When I think about forgiveness, you don’t have to convince me that I need to forgive – I’m already on board with that.  The tricky part for me is the actual forgiving.  Here are some tips that might help you:

  • forgiveness isn’t a feeling.  Consider the Corrie Ten Boom quote, “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”
  • forgiveness in the greek means “to let go or release”:  when we forgive, we release the hurt, bitterness, judgment & pain
  • proficient forgiveness requires practice
  • forgiveness must be kept fresh – stale forgiveness can grow putrid in our emotions and thoughts
  • Here’s a cool & short video that could be helpful:  forgiveness

hurtful words

At various times in our lives, we are all the targets & recipient of hurtful words.  In elementary school, kids can often say things without thinking of how their words can be received.  Then in Jr & Sr high school, it seems like we get more sophisticated with our ability to use piercing & hurtful words.  By the time we’re adults, many of us have become very proficient at integrating sarcasm with our cleverly cloaked words so that we can slice & filet someone with very crafted and deadly words.

So what do we do with hurtful words?  Here are a couple of helpful thoughts:  

  1. forgive – whether the words were intentionally hurtful or not, forgiving must be your first & continual action
  2. dial down the emotions & see what could be truthful with the hurtful words
  3. make a constructive decision to get better & not bitter – let the hurtful words give you motivation to make some healthy changes rather than letting them fester in your emotional memory being nursed & rehearsed
  4. repay mean words with a smile rather than trying to craft a come back or pay back
  5. take the hurt to Jesus & let Him bring His healing into that pain

Pain isn’t always the main issue.  But what you do with pain will determine it’s results 🙂

ever feel impatient?

 Recently, I’ve been somewhat frustrated with one of my friends because they’ve made some very silly decisions that have had some fairly negative consequences.  I find myself being impatient with my friend & wanting them to change.  I’m trying to watch the words that I say to my friend, so that I don’t hurt their feelings due to my impatience.  So far, here’s my impatience insights:

  • if impatience is left unchecked, it can be very destructive
  • impatience isn’t only related to our words, but it also can affect our attitudes & actions, so that even if we don’t say anything, we must still remain vigilant against even its subtle expression
  • sometimes it helps to talk about how we feel, but its important to be responsible for our own feelings & not give someone else control of how we may feel or act
  • sometimes the best antidote to impatience is a slow, intentional & methodical application of patience
  • James 1:4 – let patience have her perfect work so that you may be mature & complete.  Give patience permission to work in your life 🙂

things that help relationships to grow

  Over the last few weeks, I have had some interesting conversations with various friends about different ways to improve relationships  One such way is by doing things together – so today, my husband & I are going to buy a dishwasher.  Of course we have different ways of approaching this project, but the point is that we work together to get something that will be reliable & helpful to our family for a reasonable price.  I’ll keep you posted on how this adventure turns out ,)

Some other ways to help a relationship grow include:

  • trust:  not only do we want to be able to trust the other person, but we, ourselves, must also be trustworthy
  • forgiveness – the deeper the friendship, the greater the quantity & deeper the quality of forgiveness;  shallow friendships can often reflect limited forgiveness
  • time:  listening, doing things together and other things / ways that require time
  • sacrifice:  preferring the other person’s desires & needs over our own is a good way to not only grow a relationship, but to also grow as an individual
  • communication:  honesty & diversity (through lots of different ways – written, non-verbal, dialogues, to name a few ideas)
  • affirmation:  looking for creative ways to say, “you is kind, you is wise & you is important” is always important to grow relationships
  • common purpose:  it’s important to understand that different relationships have different purposes (friendships can be for a reason, a season but only a few are for a lifetime)

Ultimately, I see my relationships as a means to express genuine love – letting God love through me.  This is the goal in which I want to always be improving.

Were you ever nervous about a meeting?

 I had coffee with a friend the other day & this friend can be a little cranky from time to time & I was concerned that our coffee gathering was going to be “one of those times.”  I didn’t feel like I could cancel the coffee date but I was kind of jittery about what path the conversation would take.  So I thought about some different strategies I could use for this potentially volatile coffee time & here were some of my thoughts:

  • I could endeavor to keep the conversation shallow & discuss the weather, sports & all things surfacy.  I decided against this option because she would know that I was being disengenuous.
  • I could arrive late & have to leave early before anything dicey could come up – again, that would be disengenuous
  • I could just brace myself for whatever might be said & keep a tough shell so that nothing she could say would zing me.  With this option, I would guard myself from being totally present in the conversation
  • I could pre-forgive her – making the decision ahead of time to forgive her no matter what she might say, regardless of if she was trying to be intentionally hurtful or not.  I decided for this option 🙂

So here was the outcome – our coffee time went well, we had a great conversation & there was nothing too zing-y that I had to work through & forgive.  I liked the pre-forgiveness strategy so much that I decided to share it with you & use it again in other situations that have any hurtful potetial 🙂

what should I say???

We all have had the experience where something has happened or someone has said something & we were left speechless.  Sometimes, we’ve had people say things that have been really hurtful.  Sometimes, we are in a situation that is very difficult to know how to respond.  Sometimes, a conversation goes in a direction that can be uncomfortable.  These are just a few examples of when we might be left “speechless”.  Thankfully, I’m starting to learn to say less than what I think – whew!  But what should we say in difficult situations, conversations etc?

Here are some thoughts:

  • be encouraging – look for something positive if you’re expected to make a reply
  • wisdom, the leading of the Holy Spirit, helps us to know when we should speak & when we should remain silent;  there are appropriate times to be vocal & there are times when silence is golden
  • listen to what God would want to achieve through the interchange – getting on God’s page is more helpful than pushing my personal agenda
  • speak life – acknowledge shortcomings, be forgiving & affirming
  • Jesus said that people who are peace makers are a blessing because they’re called the sons of God – making peace isn’t the same thing as rolling over & playing dead, but it also isn’t about escalating a conflict.
  • trying to resolve conflict through email, facebook, text messaging, voicemail, linked in, etc is really difficult & sometimes impossible.  Be mindful of what you’re trying to accomplish if you bring up difficult conversations in these settings because there is HUGE AMOUNTS of room for misunderstanding 🙂

tips to help with forgiveness

 I’m a big fan of being proficient with forgiveness – after all, we get to practice almost everyday! ,)

There are LOADS of benefits that go with maintaining a lifestyle of forgiveness, but the point for this blog is to refresh a few tips & to give you an opportunity to share some effective tips you’ve learned as well.  So here’s a quickie sarah forgiveness primer:

  • be ready to forgive more than you’re ready to take an offense – sometimes it helps to have a forgiveness mindset
  • fast forgiving is easier than elongated forgiving:  anytime I’ve nursed a hurt, the forgiving process gets quagmired & almost moribund before I know it :/
  • some people require more forgiveness than others;  some of us are proned to the foot-in-mouth syndrome so please don’t make us squirm as we try to get better
  • forgiveness is about personal liberty: for those of us who are Americans, its hard for me to understand why we are so adamant about our external freedom, but we can be virtually oblivious to our internal incarceration
  • I want to be super generous with forgiveness because Lord knows He gives me more than I can comprehend;  people who are stingy with forgiveness are usually mean & lonely 😦
What are some more suggestions?