The Importance of Relationships

The Importance of Relationships

I spent years defining myself by relationships. I questioned how important I really was by that silenced friend who never returned my calls. I tied so much of my worth in the thoughts of my husband or the lack there of. I was the queen of second guessing every word that came out of my mouth. I was in essence trapped in a unhealthy cycle of earning love and validation from others, who had no ability to carry that weight. It was a self-destructive and self-serving way of viewing life. If God had not stepped in, I would still be trapped.

But, you see, God never leaves us wallowing in our own self-inflicted prison cells. I didn’t know it at the time, but He was pursuing me and had no intention of me remaining in my single-mindedness. God came to me but He came through a series of trials, as He often does. Through these trials, He showed me that I was putting my relationships with my spouse and friends ahead of the most important relationship, my relationship with my heavenly Father! My husband and my friends could not be God to me nor should they. And, as I began pursuing Jesus, I came to find that one of the biggest themes of the entire Bible is relationships! Two relationships in fact! Read this excerpt from Matthew 22:

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. vs 37-40

So, in essence our entire being was created for relationships! The first being our relationship with the Lord and the second being with our neighbors. If we want to live our best lives, we must first pursue a close relationship with God. What does that mean in practical terms? Well think about any other close relationship. You spend time with them. You learn everything you can about them. You talk to them. You listen to them. When it comes to God we do the same! We pray, read and study His words to us in the Bible, we apply His word to our lives and our hearts and we invite Him into our homes, our families, and our days.

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Secondly, we start looking at our relationships with others in a different light. For years I would get hurt or sad when my friends let me down, but as my faith matured, I came to realize that I needed to be the kind of friend to others that I wished they were to me. I started to love with no expectation attached. If I was feeling unloved because a friend hadn’t reached out to me, I would reach out to them! More often than not, they were struggling and just needed someone to step in and say, “I’m here and I care.”

I also had to learn to look at relationships with others not as a venue to attain worth or importance, but as opportunities to pour love and encouragement out on others. Relationships can be hard but at the same time, some of the most rewarding life lived is life that revolves around loving God and loving all of the people that He puts in our path! Give it a try and you’ll be amazed at what God does in and around you! hands-1150073_1920

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We Are Not Alone

I have felt lonely recently. After I had a whole month in Britain filled with people I love, close friends and family who know me well, tease me for embarrassing childhood memories and know my sense of humor. Every day I saw someone who I share great memories with, it was so wonderful.

Getting back to life and back to reality, has meant I’ve spent time on my own. It has been a bit of a shock to the system.

While feeling lonely myself, I thought of all the lonely people out there and I wondered how could I bring words of comfort to them. Then I remember the wonderful truth, we are not alone.

Matthew 28:20b “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Our Lord Jesus is with us and he has sent His Holy Spirit to comfort us.

John 14:16 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever.”

Our Lord Jesus asks the Father on our behalf for a helper for us, we have that comfort wherever we are.

While studying away from home at University, I felt lonely and in my loneliness I decided that I would write what I was thankful to God for in a Christian journal. I wrote prayers and I made it colourful. At first, I didn’t feel any better, I felt worse in a way because feeling sad and lonely, my attitude was not very grateful. But, over time, I realized this was reminding me of God’s wonderful truths.

I also saw answers to prayer, I had a record of what I had written and I saw how God had answered these prayers. Thirteen years later I still write a Christian Journal.

James 4:8 “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”

This is such a wonderful promise, I feel that while I write in my journal I draw near to God and He promises, as it says in James, that when we draw near to Him He draws near to us.

We are not alone, He is with us.

We Are a Mist, Here for a Short While and Then Disappear

Sometimes, I am reminded sharply of how short my life on earth is. Hearing stories of young lives passing away or even looking at how my children have grown so quickly, I think, “Wow, we truly are just a vapor in the wind”. My Nana tells me, “Ash, it goes so quickly, and yet on the inside I still feel the same as I did when I was a little girl.”

“You do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? Indeed, it is a mist that appears for a little while and then disappears” (James 4:14).

Our bodies are dying, but inward, the soul keeps going. It shows the importance of what lies after our short life here on earth and why we should care.

Often times, people get freaked out thinking about this… with good reason. Yet, it has to be dealt with! Where you go when you die is of utmost importance. Forever is a long time!

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus or Lord” (Romans 6:23).

God sent His Son, to live a perfect life and to die on the cross for you. A lot of times people think to themselves, “I’m a good person.” But, we all sin! Just because you’ve never killed someone or generally try to be kind, doesn’t mean you are a good person. We all fall short, we all have thought badly of someone, have told a lie, etc. Unless you see yourself as a sinner who needed Jesus to die for you, you do not know Him.

It’s simple, believe He came and died for you, and tell Him you want to live for Him. Give your life to Jesus.

There is nothing we need more desperately than Christ.

Peace + Thankfulness = A Happy Heart

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts… and be thankful.

Today, I was blessed with a much needed, unexpected day off. I enjoyed laying in bed longer than usual, listening to the window fan blow its steady rhythm. This morning’s sunrise was gorgeous and having coffee with my husband was an added pleasure. I even accompanied my daughter as she picked up her son who flew back home from Utah. Being a part of seeing my 16 year old grandson light up the eyes of his baby sister was priceless. At 18 months old she had missed him terribly and it was obvious the feelings were mutual.

Family and family time is something designed by God for us. It is a good gift. The gifts of God are ours to enjoy. It’s extremely important to recognize each one of them and to be thankful.

A thankful heart really is a happy heart. Remembering God’s favor towards us brings peace and strength for another day. Today God has reminded of that.

A Close Call On A Missed Opportunity

I almost did not say anything to her. I was about to miss the blessing of encouraging her in her faith in God. I am so glad God gave me the courage. God wows me.

I was sitting there looking at this receptionist thinking, “this woman follows Jesus, I really think she does.” Then my thoughts switched to, “But does she really?” I doubted she truly did. I did not see a cross hanging on her neck or a Jesus loving tattoo, but solely the way she carried herself with peaceful grace.

“Lord, do I say something and feel embarrassed if she tells me no?” At this point, someone else has now walked in.

Looking around, trying to stuff actually asking her, I saw a black and white printout colored in with the words—“Be the light,” in bold letters. It encouraged me to say something.

Matthew 5:14 says, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.”

Her light was bright, not hidden, and very evident to me. Come to find out, she does love Jesus and attends a local church. Also, the “Be the light” coloring page was not even hers! God is good, all the time.

Unqualified, Broken, and Called

Unqualified, Broken, and Called.pngIt was a beautiful morning.  There was a cool breeze and the sunshine felt so warm on my skin.  I inhaled deeply and decided that the girls and I could use some fresh air.  A leisurely stroll would do us good and just maybe peanut would take herself a little nap!   As myself and the littles were making our way down the road, a divine appointment was about to happen.  A dear stranger with a very deep hurt crossed our path and as our friendly hellos turned into an unexpected honest and raw discussion, I marveled at her brave heart for speaking about her pain and I marveled at an amazing God for giving me this opportunity to listen.

Why does God choose me to be a part of these things?  I feel so unqualified. I don’t have answers and I don’t always know what to say except that I’m broken too.  But it seems that ever since I decided to follow God’s lead,  He always brings me to hard places.  Hard, beautiful places.  It’s these humble stories, the broken homes and the broken choices that perfectly compliments a perfect savior.  A savior who is in the business of redeeming broken and dark and turning our shattered hearts into hearts vulnerable and soft and yet fortified with fiery steel.

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, 21equip you with every good thing to dI’m learning that having a soft heart is not having a weak heart. I don’t need to know the perfect words to say.  I just need to listen and when given the chance speak God into our conversations. I don’t need to know the next steps or have every thing planned out.  I’m coming to know that Jesus is the one who qualifies us.  He qualifies and gives us the Holy Spirit to give us discernment and guidance as we walk into the unknown and difficult.

As we arrived back home, our caseworker stopped by and we chatted about little lovie and the challenges of foster care.  I found myself being vulnerable and sharing my heart with this woman who up until a month ago I’d never met.  I talked to her about what God’s doing in my heart and how dear this little one and her mama has become to me. I shared how thankful I was to be doing this, but how unprepared I felt to be walking through all of this brokenness.  And then it occurred it to me, I’m more prepared than most because of who I’m doing this for.  This is Jesus work.  Redeeming work.  This is God’s heart and I was suddenly overcome with gratitude and humbleness.  It’s amazing that God uses broken people like me. What a privilege.

And then I thought back on our morning walk and the sweet reminder that Christ had given me.  How He whispered in my heart to, “Be brave and honest and bring Me into the hard and I will be faithful and use you.”  And for the second time in one day He did just that. Amazing.

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Life Giving Water

While in Britain, my friends asked me what I love about where I live in Maine. I love the water! I love seeing it, splashing in it and I love all the smells that come with it.

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Where I live I am very close to the ocean, to lakes and I can walk to the river running through our city. There is something extremely therapeutic about water.

While pregnant, it was drummed into me that I had to drink gallons of water, you cannot have enough it seems. I was advised to gulp down at least a liter in the morning, so that I was off to a good start.

Water is essential for life and so is it any wonder that Jesus used the illustration of water when talking about his Salvation.

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but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

Without Jesus in our lives we have an unquenchable thirst. We strive to fill the hole that a Savior brings us. With him we find fulfillment and joy. We find peace. The water here on earth makes me happy, I am always glad of a family day to the beach. This is a good gift from Heaven, that illustrates a fraction of the excitement and joy of seeing our Savior in Heaven.