Blame Shifting by Kenika

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The topic of relationships and dating comes in ebbs and flows within my group of friends.  It’s like in one year everybody has a little “boo thing”, and then in the next they are recovering from the last break up.  Thus the flow of conversation changes with my girlfriends depending on where each person is.  Everyone loves to say when you break up, “You will find someone better,” or, “We didn’t like him anyway,” and my favorite “You learn something new with every relationship.”

I understand why people say that last one, because for the most part it is really true.  Sometimes the lesson learned is that you were stupid.  Or at least that’s how you feel.   But usually you learn something new about yourself, perhaps what you want or don’t want, or see yourself in a different light.  I’ve found that one of the dangers of the post-relationship evaluation is shifting blame.  The first place we tend to shift it is to the other person, because clearly we are totally innocent and have done everything completely right. The second place we shift blame is to ourselves, we do this because we are hurt or wounded and trying to make sense of it all. The third and most dangerous place that we shift blame is to God.

God knows all, sees all, and has power over all. He created the heavens and the earth with words!  You don’t get more powerful than that. Of all that He spoke and created in the earth, He MADE us in His image.  Which means we have the same ability to create with our words and the world around us is affected by our actions.  If that is the case, then we can make decisions which means whatever we experience in relationships is a direct result of the selection we’ve made.  It’s so much easier to blame God right?  Asking how He could allow something to happen, or why He didn’t hold up a huge sign to say, “STOP!”   Because He is sovereign, I do believe that in everything He is gently guiding us with answers and clues.  But because we are carnal human beings, we either don’t see them or completely ignore them.

I had to really get real with myself regarding this.  There was a portion of a relationship that I believe God allowed to be.  As they say hindsight is 20/20, so as I look back I can recall a time when Jesus was no longer the center and I continued on in my flesh. Yes, I said it, in my flesh. It became a soothing agent for me, a place of familiarity, instead of an opportunity for us to continue to grow and draw closer to God together.  Then when it got down to it I wanted to blame everyone, the guy, God, the postman, my neighbor, basically everybody but the person equally responsible, me.

It’s only when I began to understand nothing has happened to me in the area of relationships that I have not allowed, that I experienced breakthrough.  If you’re dating a guy and he turns out to be a jerk, you aren’t to blame for him being a jerk, but you are responsible for making the choice to date him in the first place.  No one forces us; we have the power to decide.  Furthermore, anytime the relationship shifts from being Christ-centered, you lose the ability to truly hear from the Father concerning it.   Don’t blame God for that, it’s all on us.  Lastly, sometimes it just doesn’t work out.  Let’s not be so super high-minded and deep!  We are all imperfect yet we put so much pressure on each other to be perfect.  Let’s all continue to grow in love, patience and grace, understanding that whoever we are in relationship with is a choice that is one hundred percent ours and that no one, especially not God, is to blame.  One day, you’ll choose a mate and he’ll choose you right back, and all the hiccups from before will become distant memories.

Peace In The Storm by Trish

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Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Picture this with me: Storm clouds roll in, thunder so loud it shakes the earth and lightening so powerful it illuminates the entire sky. Now if you’re anything like me, I don’t mind storms so much if I’m in my house out of the chaos the storm can cause in outdoor conditions. Let’s take it one step further…imagine with me that not only are you in a terrible storm, but you’re outside IN A BOAT!  See, this is the part of the story found in Mark 4:35-40 that I can relate to, the fear of the disciples with Jesus.  Being in an “uncovered” environment with the waves crashing around you and the One you have decided to follow with your very life is SLEEPING!! In fear the disciples wake Him up and ask, “Don’t you care if we drown?” Jesus gets up, rebukes the wind and waves, and then asks the disciples “Why are so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

If I was to be completely honest with myself and with you, there have been “storms” in my life where I’ve felt (in my emotions) uncovered, fearful and terrified by the conditions around me. Not just any conditions but circumstances that were beyond my control. It’s easy to say you have faith and you trust God when you’re able to predict and navigate the outcome of a situation. But the minute a storm hits and you realize there is nothing in your ability to control what you’re facing, fear can set in and words of accusation such as “Don’t you care?” can be uttered towards God.

Of course God cares and yes, He will take care of you. Faith sees what the eyes cannot. Faith knows that no matter what I face in life, no matter what or who in life has left me uncovered and seemingly vulnerable to the conditions that could threaten my life, I’m connected to the ultimate covering.

My trust in God should not be dependent on what I feel in my emotions. My faith is exercised when I recognize a storm approaching but because I know who’s on my boat, I know there is no safer place for me to be.

Know that if you’ve accepted Jesus into your life as Savior, you too can have peace and rest in your storm.

Storms come but they eventually pass, don’t allow the storms of life to rob you of your peace. If you’ve entrusted your life to God, you can know that whatever you face in life, He’s there.  Just because you’re a Christian does not mean you’re exempt from storms, but there is a peace that is available to you when you put your trust in God.

If you are in need of peace in your life right now, I encourage you to confess daily some life verses on peace. While some things may be beyond your control, it’s never beyond His and you CAN control what you allow your mind to dwell upon and the choice to apply your faith!

 

Scriptures on Peace:

Philippians 4:7/Amplified Bible (AMP)

7 And God’s peace [shall be yours, that [a]tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace], which transcends all understanding, shall [b]garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:15/Amplified Bible (AMP)

15 And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].

Isaiah 26:3/Amplified Bible (AMP)

3 You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.

 

*Bible references from www.biblegatway.com (Amplified Version)

Making Real Connections by Bombi

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Lately I’ve given tons of thought on human connection and how real connection has become more and more difficult. Ironically, social media gives convenient opportunity to share our every thought with our world and virtually connect 24/7. So how is it possible to lose connection when we’ve never been more technologically connected before?

Think about it, when is the last time you had coffee with your friend? When is the last time you went to lunch with your mom, or brother? When is the last time you sat next to another human being and actually talked to them instead of sitting while texting in silence?  Yes life has gotten a bit busy, but isn’t  it always? There is always something, a new job, a new class, a new baby, a death in the family, a wedding to plan, a trip to go on, a family member is sick.  As sure as a busy life is, so is the fact that there is no real substitute for face-to-face human connection and interaction. So here’s a question, would you rather chat an “XO” to your spouse, or give them an actual hug and kiss?

Here I am asking you to take a moment to search your heart and take a human-connection inventory. I’m talking to the tech savvy person who texts their pals all day long and I’m talking to the tech hater who gave up calling people because you know how much they would rather get a text. I’m talking to the extroverts, the introverts, and every “vert” out there. I’m talking to me.

I believe that we’re on this earth with actual vs. virtual people for a reason.  I can’t help but think about Jesus and his choice of close connection with people.  Jesus could have perfectly executed his amazing 3 years of ministry completely solo. He didn’t need anyone holding his hand or coming along for the ride. He could have done it all on his own, but instead showed us an example of the importance of connection by his relationship with the disciples and with the Father. There is much to be said about Jesus’ ministry and victory at the cross, but what I can’t forget is the fact that Jesus chose to do it with actual people around.  If connecting with people and pals was important to Jesus, then it’s important to me.

So here’s one last sobering question for the day, but one worth asking, have you given up on real connection with people?

As you ponder the question I’ll leave you with this scripture, popular for its affiliation with church attendance, but also a good reminder in general, of keeping real human connection with our fellow brothers and sisters and family of the faith.

24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)

Why don’t you make that coffee date with your pal today? I bet it’ll encourage you.

 

Dream Big or Go Home by Sonya

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I believe God has a purpose and vision for each of our lives. He wants us to dream big with Him. The question I have is what are we going to do with that dream or vision He gives us?  Are we going to let it slide and not doing anything about it because we think we are inadequate? Or stay in our comfort zone? Can we ignore what God has placed on our hearts? My answer is no and I am learning from my six year old daughter, Sophia, what it truly means to capture the vision God is giving you.

Sophia had a dream six months ago that she was on a stage with a microphone speaking to many ladies about her passion and love for Christ. She told me about the dream and how she wants to speak and talk to ladies and knows God will give her that opportunity. I told her that God placed this on her heart for a reason and showed her part of His vision for her life and how doors will open up for her to speak to women.  A few weeks ago, that door opened for her when I got the call from my pastor’s wife asking if Sophia could speak at our next woman’s event. She thought it would be neat to have Sophia share her faith and her love for Jesus and how she serves Him. I was so excited to tell Sophia and to see her face when I ask her if she could speak. When I asked Sophia she said, “Yes” and her face just lit up and she couldn’t believe she was asked to speak. She was glowing and jumping up and down and couldn’t believe how God answered her prayer and that she would get to live out her dream.  She is now preparing for her talk by having a pad of paper by her bed and writing down things that God gives her.

This little girl has taught me to dream big and not to put God in a box. She prays boldly to Him and doesn’t hesitate to listen and act on what God tells her. I want that kind of childlike faith to do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Listening to the voice of God speak into our lives at certain times is so important because if we are not listening we could miss out on the opportunities that God has for our lives.  After we have heard from God then we must act on it and not wait because God will pick someone else and we miss out and go home. Don’t go home but be the one that dreams big and watch what God will do!