What Are You Saying?

what ru sayingDo you have negative thoughts, do you grumble and complain? Does someone annoy you? We all have those difficult people and circumstances in our lives. The question is whether we will focus on the negative and let those thoughts bring us down into the pit of despair. For that matter, consider whether you bring others down with you. Think about it. We have the power to bring life or death to ourselves and others in our homes, workplace, church, and communities. Our thoughts and words have power.

Often times, misery seeks the company of others and destroys lives. That root of bitterness breeds negative thoughts that will be communicated through body language and facial expressions. When we criticize, complain, condemn, and argue we push people away and disobey God, who says,

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe (Phil. 2:14-15). 

Are you shining like a star? Do people see a joy-filled Jesus in you? They will if you have an attitude of praise and thanksgiving. It’s not that hard. Look at the impoverished nations around the world where people are trying to survive violence, disease, and starvation. We have so much to be thankful for. We can even thank God for our struggles, which gives us an opportunity to pray and see God at work.

Delight in difficult people! Build them up. Make it your challenge to point out her great qualities. You can do it! Focus on the positive NOT the negative. Give him or her hope through your words of affirmation. Follow God’s Word to be blessed when He tells you the following:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4:29). 

Be aware of what you say. Often times we justify our negative words to make someone change, but I believe more change can take place when we focus on what people are doing right. Does this mean we never point out areas of opportunity? Of course not. God says to speak truth in love to build up the church body. We grow and mature when we step out in faith and confidence in Christ to lovingly express areas of concern. But for now, focus on the strengths of the difficult person in your life. In a future blog I will discuss the 4-steps to have a difficult conversation. Until then, eagerly anticipate what you can discover about the person as you look at the following list of positive qualities:

AnalyticalArtisticCommitted

Dedicated

Dependable

Encouraging

Expressive

Faithful

Flexible

ForgivingGenerousGentle

Helpful

Honest

Humble

Intelligent

Kind-hearted

Loyal

MotivatedOrganizedPatient

Perceptive

Persistent

Positive

Protective

Reliable

Respectful

ResponsibleRomanticSensitive

Supportive

Sincere

Strong

Talented

Thoughtful

Trustworthy

Write down the qualities you appreciate about your spouse; your children, and even your rebellious teenager; co-worker or boss; neighbor or friend; in-law, parent, or sibling. Think about building up that person by pointing out the positive. A sentence like the following could change your relationships:

“I want you to know that I think you’re an amazing person. I’m proud of you. I see that you’re committed and dedicated toward (school, sports, your hobby, friends, work, or the dog). You’re thoughtful and loyal which will take you far in your future career and family. I know you’ll be successful at whatever you choose to do.”

If you’re talking to a spouse or even an ex-spouse or an in-law, your conversation might look like this:

“Although I haven’t expressed it much, I think you’re an amazing person. You have made a difference in my life and our family. And I want to thank you for all the times over the years that you’ve been helpful and encouraging and supportive. I appreciate what you’ve contributed to our family. Those are things I once took for granted, but I want you to know that I’m grateful. I love you and I’m here to support you.”

This may seem impossible, but God does the impossible. He says you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Phil. 4:13). In fact, God says that you can do immeasurably more than all you ask or imagine with His power of the Holy Spirit at work in you to demonstrate the glory of God (Eph. 3:20-21).

Changing your negative outlook can transform your life. Imagine if you started every conversation with the words, “You’re amazing or I’m proud of you or I appreciate you for (list all the positive qualities and what they do).”

Do it and watch what happens. Let this become a habit and try again and again. Your difficult person may test you to see if this is a temporary change or experiment, but make gratefulness a way of life.

By focusing on your blessings, you will be changed. I guarantee it! I’m living proof. Delivered from the pit of despair, I feel alive with a grateful heart of praise, worship, and thanksgiving to an amazing God who has blessed me abundantly. As I changed my attitude, my marriage continues to improve and my broken relationships restored.

What are you thankful for? Please share your thoughts to help our community of readers gain an attitude of gratitude, praise, and thanksgiving that will lead us all to a more joy-filled life.

Thanks for doing life with me,

Kirsten

Information shared in this post is from my book LOVING THE UNLOVEABLE, Transforming difficult relationships with God’s truth. Available on Amazon or you can order through your local bookstore.

When Mother’s Day Hurts

mothers day hurtsFor some, Mother’s Day is a painful reminder of the loss of your mother or being unable to be a mother or feeling like a failure as a mother or the memories of a mother who failed you. Today I want to speak to your heart. Actually, I want God to speak to your heart through me. You see, He loves you. He sees your pain. He knows you intimately for He knit you together in your mother’s womb.

God is with you right now in this very moment as you read these words. He wants you to know that He understands your loss, your rejection, your regret, your emptiness, and the longing of your heart. In fact, your heavenly Father put that desire in your heart to be healed and whole. He wants to meet you in your place of pain and fill that void and emptiness with His love and mercy and tender loving care.

We have a God of comfort and compassion who will embrace you and reach down to lift you up out of your miry pit. He hears the cry of your heart and wants to heal you and give you renewed hope. He has a glorious future for you of reconciliation, provision, and peace.

Will you trust that God loves you and that He is for you and not against you and that nothing can separate you from His love? His love alone will fill your void. It was for this reason that He demonstrated His love by coming to suffer that He might know your pain and broken heart. Jesus wept for you and the burdens that you bare. He knows your brokenness and He desires to heal you, to give you a new life, to resurrect you as a new creation filled with His tender mercy.

Whatever your situation, you have a spiritual family who cares for you. God gave you His Son to die for your pain that He might live in you to love the motherless and to experience the mother’s love through the church. Our pain serves as a way to comfort others in the midst of their pain.

You have a God of new beginnings. Today He wants to restore you and fill you with His overwhelming joy as you let Jesus enter in to that place of pain with a thankful heart knowing that He cares for you. Thank God for your mother who gave you life here on earth. Thank God for His Son who gave you abundant life for eternity by taking your pain upon Himself to bring you abundant joy.

Promise from God:

“Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.“For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them.  Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed” (Isaiah 61:7-9).

Prayer to God:

Dear Father God in heaven. Thank you for knitting me together in the depths of my mother’s womb. Thank you that I am fearfully and wonderfully made in your image. Thank you that you love me and see me and know my pain and sorrow. Forgive me for not trusting in your love and faithfulness. Meet me in my pain that I may be healed and restored. I praise you for my suffering that I may have compassion on others to be used for your glory and praise. Let this be a day where I remember my mother and see her as you see her and know her and love her in the midst of her pain. I rejoice in those fond memories of my mother. Bring me comfort today to have a grateful heart to demonstrate your love to those in pain in Jesus name I pray. Amen

Turn Confrontation into Connectedness

confrontation to connectednessBe wise in how you respond in your relationships. Approach every conversation or confrontation with the intent to gain understanding into what makes them unique. Be slow to respond and quick to listen to gain clarity. We are all created differently to come together to accomplish great things. If we were all the same nothing would get done. Instead of becoming frustrated, we can rejoice in the way we are different. In fact, the following steps can turn a confrontation into connectedness when you put the focus onto learning about others.

Steps to Wise-Up to LEARN

  1. Listen without becoming defensive. Take a deep breath and bite your tongue if you have to! Pay attention and nod to demonstrate that you care and that you are listening. This does not mean that you agree, but your opinion or side of the story can be shared in a few minutes.
  2. Express appreciation for their thoughts, opinions, and feelings. We all want to be known and valued. We long for adoration, affirmation, and acceptance by people in our homes, businesses, and in our communities. Say, “I want to hear what you have to say.” I appreciate that you’re sharing how you feel.” I want to know where you’re coming from.”
  3. Ask questions to learn about the person to meet their need to be heard and to be known. If you’re in a disagreement, clarify by asking, “So, are you saying _________?” “I want to know you, can you tell me _________? (See list of questions below to learn.)
  4. Remember what s/he tells you and follow-up with a question about the test in Algebra or the meeting at work or by making her favorite meal or suggest watching his favorite show, or know the score of the football game.
  5. Notice behavior to identify feelings. Read body language to understand and learn what might not be said. Say something like, “I notice you seem (disappointed, frustrated, excited) today. What’s going on in your life?” Wise-up to the following areas, although it may appear insignificant, it can change your relationship.

Questions to ask to communicate that you care:

  • What is your favorite (food, book, movies and TV show)?
  • What’s happening at (work, school, soccer, etc.)?
  • Who do you admire on your team?
  • What do you like about your friend?
  • What are your plans for today?
  • If you could do anything this weekend what would you do?
  • Do you feel nurtured by being indoors or outside in nature?
  • Do you get energized with people or spending time alone?
  • What are your best memories or most challenging times?

Whether at work, home, or in your community slow down to hear the heart of those who are in your sphere of influence. Discover their likes, dislikes, and feelings. To gain insight into the person’s daily life will transform your relationship. Ask open-ended questions to discover their pain, perspective, and personality to live the life of purpose God has for you. You are created to care for others.

The enemy of this world wants to deceive, destroy, and distract you from living the abundant life God has for you. Satan is most successful at doing this by causing confusion, chaos, and misunderstandings in your relationships. The Bible says,

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:15-20).

For years I was defensive and blaming, but then I realized the enemy wanted to deceive me. Once I understood that my purpose is to minister love, grace, and mercy to the hearts of hurting people. Those of us who lash out or pull away are in pain. We all feel unloved, rejected, and misunderstood. That’s why it’s important to take every opportunity to be wise and not foolish in the words that we say. To argue or give the silent treatment is foolishness and pride. Does that mean we agree with everyone? No, of course not.

Stop to LEARN to demonstrate a heart of humility that will transform your life with the joy and peace that comes from living life God’s way. Rejoice in Him with a thankful heart that He is using you to minister the love of Jesus.

Dear Wise Father, Please give me wisdom and insight into my relationships. Help me to slow down to learn about others by being humble and taking the focus off of me. When I’m in a disagreement, please remind me to stop to listen to what they say instead of proving that I’m right and they are wrong or trying to defend myself. Help me to express appreciation for their thoughts, opinions, and viewpoints. Lord, let me slow down to ask questions to seek understanding and clarity to know those who I’m in relationship with. Help me to remember their likes and dislikes to prove my love and concern for them. Give me a sensitivity to how others are feeling that I may mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. I praise you for every circumstance, conversation, and confrontation that gives me the opportunity demonstrate your love. I want to honor and glorify you everyday in Jesus name. Amen.

The First Will Be Last

1st will be lastHave you ever had your parking space stolen as you waited patiently for someone to pull out? Or maybe you thought you would get the promotion at work, but someone weasels their way into the position? Selfish and rude people can bull-dose their way into situations without consideration for others.

An awkward experience happened to me when I was on a trip to the Holy Land. Due to my extreme motion sickness I arranged with the pastor, bus driver, and the tour guide to sit in the front of the bus. After the first day of sitting in my seat, while we toured some of the biblical sites in Israel, we spent the night at a hotel.

To my horror, the next day I discovered a man and a woman occupying my seat in the bus. I politely mentioned that my mother and I sat there the previous day and that our belongings were above the seat. Abruptly they pointed across the aisle to another seat a couple of rows back and said we could sit there. Now I have to admit, no one announced that we had to remain in the same seats, but my mom and I had assumed we could sit there the entire time for me to avoid getting sick.

Facing the couple who stole our seats, I had a choice to make. Do I fight for my right or do I humble myself? My response could impact a bus full of eager Christians to see the Promise Land.  Would I choose to reflect the love of Jesus by letting the offense go and move forward with a good attitude? Furthermore, would I trust God to prevent me from motion sickness no matter where I sat?

Promise from God

Jesus said, “But many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Matt. 20:16, Mark 9:35, 10:31).

Once I humbled myself to take another seat and resisted the temptation to nurse my bitterness, God gave me a different perspective. I saw their misery. Noticing that there was tension between the husband and wife, I began to pray for them. As time went on, I realized that the husband was asked by the pastor to journal the entire trip with photos and video, which caused a tremendous stress upon the couple. My heart changed as I saw things from the husband’s perspective to want to get a clear view by being upfront. I recognized his servant’s heart to document the trip and how that made his wife feel neglected and short-tempered.

By letting others go first, holding my negative thoughts captive, and praying for them, God showed me that someday I will be lifted up to a position of honor with a seat upfront in the throne room of heaven. With a good attitude, we had a spectacular time and I never got sick.

Dear Father God, I praise you for your promise that the first will be last and the last will be first. Help me to remember to put others first and to serve them. Help me to be humble so that I can be lifted up. Help me to see every situation from your perspective and to be sensitive to the pain, perspective, and personalities of others. Lord help me to remember to stop before I react, to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry so that I may glorify you. I want to be an example of Christ by showing the same humility, compassion, and grace for others that you show me. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

A Homeless Man Called Me

His Entire World...Homeless man and his best f...

His Entire World…Homeless man and his best friend, Brandy the dog (Photo credit: Beverly & Pack)

In most neighborhoods homeless people come and go, but in my community we lack the public transportation that would bring them into our area. Yet on this one particular day, Steve plopped down on a leather chair in the local coffee shop and we became acquainted. It turned out that he knew my neighborhood since he was raised there 24 years earlier. At that time his parents moved to Ohio and Steve decided in his early 20’s to pack his backpack and take to the streets.

After my first conversation with Steve, I prayed for him to get the help that he needed and hoped he would go downtown to the San Diego Rescue Mission to enroll in a rehab program. Instead, a year later I recognized Steve sitting on a bench in front of the same coffee shop. He looked discouraged until I remembered his name. I sat next to him and took an interest in what had happened in his life over the past year, hoping he got the help he needed.

At first, I was disappointed to find out that Steve did not take my advice to go to the Rescue Mission. After a few minutes of catching up, I prayed for him again and gave him my Faith Coach bookmark with 7 promises from God.

Since then I have not had the opportunity to see Steve, but he called me recently on my cell phone. Enthusiastically, he began to share how God was using him to encourage other homeless men to have a relationship with Jesus.

Although Steve struggled to give up his beer, he was across the country sharing the love of Jesus with the people he met on the streets. He thanked me for taking the time to encourage him in his faith, to pray for him, and give him the bookmark with God’s promises to cling to. Concerned about his testimony to others, I reminded Steve that he was an ambassador for Christ and to be a godly example to those he ministered to. He assured me that he was and I prayed for him.

After I hung up the phone, God convicted me that Steve’s walk with Jesus looked different from mine.  Initially I judged him, frustrated that he never got the help that he needed to get off alcohol. But then I came to understand that although he enjoyed his beer, God could still use Steve. I was only responsible for speaking truth in love, encouraging him in his walk, and praying for him to know and be the love of Jesus. The rest was up to God.

I rejoice that Steve would call me to encourage me to keep on doing what I’m doing.

I’m not to judge or condemn. With a different set of circumstances, I could easily have gone down that same path or worse. It is by the grace of God that we are chosen in Christ to be holy and blameless, adopted as His children, and forgiven by His blood poured out for me on Calvary.

I have discovered that with a heart of condemnation, God may test your heart by allowing a situation to bring you to a place of humility. In Luke 6:37 Jesus warns,

“Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

Judgment is looking down on someone and thinking you could never be that way, thinking that you’re better. We are all capable of bad behavior. All sin is wrong in the sight of God and separates us from Him and the people placed in our lives. We must examine our motives, attitudes, and thoughts to get to the root of our critical judgments. When we approach a situation with empathy not criticism, we are less likely to judge.

What are your thoughts? Are you judging someone by thinking you’re better? How is God working in your life?

Have you purchased my book yet? Buy your copy of LOVING THE UNLOVABLE right here on Amazon.

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