Are you a giver?

love-picture-quotes_1701-1“Well, what’s in your hands?”

That was the answer to my question to a pastor regarding how I was ever going to pay for my discipleship program and missions trip.

I asked what he meant and he went on to explain the story of the loaves and the fishes in Matthew 14.

“But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered.

“Bring them here,” he said. Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. 

This story still stirs me all up inside. The little boy brought everything he had to Jesus and he blessed it.

And the main benefactors of this act? Thousands of others. The little boy still got to eat his lunch, but his obedience blessed thousands and brought unbelievable glory to God.2226_122548615430_36_n

Financial giving was not something I really grew up learning much about. My basic understanding was that if I felt led to give something to the church, then I should. It was more of a “spur of the moment” thing than a regular commitment.

Surrendered finances isn’t about simply giving a percentage to the Lord, it is consistently giving everything you have to him allowing him to take care of your needs and then impact others.

Regular giving isn’t a legalistic commitment, it is a joyful opportunity to show my Father ever pay cheque that we trust him to be our provider.

Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread. The godly always give generous loans to others, and their children are a blessing.

Psalm 37:24-26

For us this means giving before paying any other bill, again as an act of trust and an expression of adoration.

My generation struggles to give, and that is extremely concerning to me.

We have grown exponentially through sacrificial and regular giving. The bond of trust between me and the Lord only gets stronger as he leads and I follow.

By not giving, you are withholding the blessing of God in your life. I’m not just talking about financial blessing, I’m talking about the blessings on peace and joy.

We receive more peace as the Lord “proves himself” to us again and again, and then naturally joy just overflows from that place of knowing your secure in your Saviour.

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

Malachi 3:10-12

97b842537e190870790f6d95cba7b574

Advertisements

Taking Your Conversations Deeper

What makes you smile lately?

What can almost bring you to tears?

Where would you live if you could live anywhere in the world?

What eases your stress?

These are what counsellors call “meaningful questions.” They are questions that cannot simply be answered with a “yes, no, maybe” or my least favourite: “good.”

All too often I have asked people questions to only receive a one word “good.”

How was school today? Good.

How was your drive here? Good.

How are you feeling? Good.

Really it’s not the fault of the responder for being vague, they weren’t given much for their tired mind to build on.

My husband and I are enrolled in an online Marriage Mentoring Academy (I’ll write about that in the future), and have been learning the art of asking meaningful questions.

I can’t begin to tell you how it’s transforming our conversations. We work with a wide variety of people from grade 6 all the way to the early thirties, and this skill is valuable in each relationship.

But where it hit closest to home was on our Valentine’s day date.

Andrew and I have no problem talking for hours when we go out, but honestly sometimes we come home feeling like we were just at work again. We end up coming up with incredible ideas and plans for our ministry, which is very thrilling, but it often doesn’t leave us understanding more of each other’s hearts.

There is a time and place for all those conversations, but we knew when we went out that we wanted to dive in a little deeper.

We were armed with the skill of asking meaningful questions and decided that each of us would think of one question ahead of our date.

This may sound structured, but it was the best conversation I think we’d ever had since having kids. These two simple questions set the course of our night and we dove into each others hearts from the restaurant, to the coffee shop to back home.

When you ask someone a meaningful question you have shown them that you are genuinely interested in them. You have made a deposit of trust into their life, and they can feel confident opening up to you.

By asking a meaningful question you can get further in a mentoring relationship in one get together than you can in ten sessions waiting for them to “spill the beans.”

If you want to take your relationships to a deeper level and really impact a person’s life through purposeful listening, learn to ask meaningful questions!

It may take some forethought, but it is 100% worth it!

great-minds-eleanor-quote-600(this image is from Saving More Than Me)

 

Gas Station Angel

Pumping-Gas-10My fuel light came on again. Seemed like we were burning through a lot more gas with an extra fussy baby this past summer. 

Amayah wasn’t happy to be going for a drive, but I knew we needed out of the house and she needed to sleep. We just had to make it until daddy was home.

I pulled up to pump, dreading the screaming that was going to start the moment we stopped.

As I was getting out of the car, she sounded like she was setting a record for the loudest wail. Caleb started screaming too. He was mad at me.

“Why did we stop?”, he demanded.

It was an extremely hot day in July so the kids were quickly cooking in the vehicle as I tried to get the gas I needed as fast as possible.

Between the heat, the screaming and my panic, I couldn’t seem to get the right card with the right pin number. I had to cancel and retry my transaction what felt like a million times.

The voice that came over the loud-speaker giving me instructions was the last straw for my sanity. 

Tears just started to flow. I couldn’t even see the numbers on the pin pad.

All of a sudden I felt a hand on my shoulder.

“It’s ok honey, you just get in with your kids and I’ll pump it. Do you need it filled?”

I was sobbing so hard by this point I could hardly respond to this kind older woman. 

I jumped in the with the kids and tried to calm them both down while she stood and filled my vehicle up.

Then she peeked in the car and told me she had three kids of her own and it’s so hard when they’re new babies. 

“Sometimes you just need an extra hand.” She told me. I ran and paid for my gas, while this stranger sat with my babies.

She gave me a hug, and I drove away.

When your fragile, it’s the little things that make all the difference in your life. This mystery woman, or my gas station angel as I fondly call her, was simply aware of the needs of a young woman at the pump next to her.

This woman lived out Philippians 2:4.

Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

Awareness of others is a simple gift we can give to those around us. A crying baby to one person might not seem to be a big deal, but to the mother, it may be pushing her over the edge.

This lady’s example as stuck with me as a reminder to help others with the little things.

“Do you still have angry voices?”

“Mommy, do you still have angry voices for me?”

My frustrated heart melted away as I walked into my son’s room to talk to him after his time out.

“His” time out. Really it was mine. I was so fed up with my daughter’s crying, and I took out my anger on him.

I yelled at him to get to his room and stay there until I had time to talk to him. Then I sat in the kitchen and cried.

Why does she scream so much? Why do I get so upset with him?

His brave communication melted down any anger barriers left in my heart.

His courageous question led into another bold statement.

“I don’t like when you just shut my movie off.”

Another little knife through my heart.

I had not handled the morning well. I usually get myself ready during Amayah’s first nap while Caleb is watching his TV show. Her crying wasn’t stopping so I came out and shut his show off and told him when his sister was asleep he could watch it so mom could still have alone time.

Sounds fair, but he was in the middle of something. It was not respectful.

I held that boy and kissed the tears rolling down his cheeks as he looked with great courage at his deflated mom. He was determined to make me understand why he felt wronged.

The angry voices left, we hugged and I apologized to him for being a mean mommy. With a tighter hug around my neck he said “it’s ok mommy” and sealed it with a kiss.

Seeing my son put brave communication into practice was amazing.

I find it hard to use well-chosen words to describe why I’m hurting. And that usually make the mess even messier then it needs to be.

His ability to speak broke down every wall. I saw into his heart.

That picture of him standing before me has literally armed me with bravery to speak out with calm words. My vulnerability will give the other person a glimpse into my heart, and swing wide the doors of restorative communication.

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.

Proverbs 15:1

I still have so much to learn about giving gentle answers, but there is a special little boy who is sure teaching me a lot along the way!

Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.

Proverbs 12:18

Brave Communication

I don’t need your permission.

268It was pretty disappointing the day I saw one of my favourite “celebrity” worship leaders dressed in a way too short, way too tight little black dress on Instagram.

She’s a christian leader, I thought. How could she forget about modesty?

As time went on I questioned whether my standards were too high. She was a great woman who experienced the presence of God, loved her husband and family and was impacting people. Maybe I was wrong.

Disappointment hit my husband the day we were watching a high-profile speaker that we look up to. He referenced a movie that we thought was really inappropriate.

Doubt started to set in rapidly. He is a pillar in the christian community. He couldn’t get off track? Maybe we are just too intense.

Countless situations like this have happened to us where we wonder if we have permission to go back on a conviction because of a recognized leader.

You are only released from your convictions when God gives you permission.

Don’t lose your passion for holiness.

Even if everyone else started dressing in a way you consider immodest, and the movies they talk about are straight from hell themselves, you can’t cave.

For whatever reason God doesn’t ask us all to follow the same convictions. He might ask me to give up something that he doesn’t ask you to give up.

What matters is that you and I obey God, no matter who around you is doing otherwise.

So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

1 Peter 1:13-16 (emphasis mine)

I love historical movies. Anything set a hundred years ago or earlier doesn’t require much more than a horse-drawn carriage to enthrall me.

When Downton Abby came out, I was instantly hooked.

I was a season behind and it seemed like suddenly every evening consisted of us indulging in that world.

This was during the same time that my husband and I were working to get our spiritual life as a couple in the right direction so that we could be used to the fullest by the Lord.

It was tough to surrender, but we knew God told us we weren’t too watch it anymore.

This wasn’t a moral issue, but an obedience issue. God had other things he wanted us to do with our time.

I still find it hard, I’m such a sucker for that kind of stuff. My favourite christian leaders watch it. And they’re awesome people.

But I’m not responsible to the people I look up to. I’m responsible to God.

No matter who around you is giving permission, don’t go back on what God has told you to do.

You are only released from your convictions when God himself releases you.

convictionquote