Hearing the Whispers of God

Good Christmas week to all of you! I can hardly believe Christmas is in just two days! I know it has a very different feel this year and we’ll likely have to adjust our traditions accordingly. Let’s start off with a prayer first before we chat…

   Father in Heaven, I pray for each person who reads this and ask a special Christmas blessing for each of us. Let Your message be heard Lord and let us come away changed. In Jesus name, Amen.

       So here we are right on top of Christmas and all the busyness it can bring. Shopping, decorating, baking, wrapping, card writing…

       I have been busy doing these things too. All but the card writing. I didn’t do physical cards this year. But now that I think about it; this was probably the year it was needed most. Sigh…

       Well my shopping is done as well as my wrapping. Gifts are under the tree and the ingredients for green bean casserole are awaiting me. The hustle and bustle of city side walks and busy side walks as well as decking the halls and jingling those bells, we can get overwhelmed with it all and forget the one person we should be remembering most.

       I woke up very early yesterday morning and decided to stay awake. I had some last-minute little gifts to buy that day and getting things ready for Christmas. My son moved out this year but he will be spending the night Christmas eve at home. This warms my heart to have him home on Christmas morning. I know it won’t be that way for much longer. Sigh again…

       To get an early start on my day, I grabbed my phone to respond to any notifications on social media that came in through the night. I like to try and stay connected with those who connect with me. But as I checked Facebook and then Instagram, it happened.

“Why are you more interested in what others have to say than what I have to say?”

       This was the oh so gentle but wounded whisper of God to my heart. Sigh a third time…

       I desire to encourage others in the Lord so much that it can actually get in the way of my personal time with the Lord. But how can I minister or witness to others if I don’t have a strong personal relationship to draw from?

       I am reminded of the words Jesus spoke to Peter in John 21 verses 15 – 17…

“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?’ he said to Him ‘yes Lord You know that I love You’, He said to him ‘feed my lambs.’ He said to him a second time ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ he said to Him ‘yes Lord, you know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘tend My sheep’ He said to him a third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time ‘do you love Me?’ and he said to Him ‘Lord, you know everything, you know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him ‘feed My sheep.’ (ESV)

       “After they finished breakfast” is how these verses begin. Jesus fed Peter before getting into the ministry aspect of the conversation. Peter couldn’t “feed” others before getting fed by Jesus first!

       Jesus most definitely wants us to “feed His sheep” but He wants us to get fed first so we have something to feed the sheep with.

       We can’t very well feed our family a Christmas dinner of roast turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, cranberry sauce, or whatever your family favorites are, without first going to the grocery store to obtain these things to feed them with.

       So, table family, as we prepare to feed others physically this holiday, may we make the time to feed ourselves. May we have spiritual breakfast with Jesus before feeding others. Let’s get to that spiritual grocery store before trying to feed anyone a feast.

May each one of you be blessed this Christmas, however it may look this year. A very Merry Christmas from my table to yours!     

Put Down Your Weapon

C’mon in table family and have a seat. The table is set with my black chargers and a red and green plaid table runner that has gold trim outlining some of the squares for that festive touch. An Icey clear and white garland is circled in the center around a glass bowl filled with sparkly acorns. I went rather simple this year as my heart is longing for simplicity.

       Hot beverages are ready and I’ll make some scrambled eggs and English muffins with jam… sound good? Okay then, grab a seat and let’s chat. We’ll start with prayer…

       Father in Heaven, I pray Your Holy Spirit to guide us on this journey of words and imageries. May You be glorified and may we come away from this table with a renewed faith in You. In Jesus name, Amen.

       Allow me to paint a scene for you… You are traveling with your church group to a specified place to begin a glorious ministry. You are all packed up and on your way. Things are going beautifully. The weather is lovely, you are able to stop in places together to have lunch and fellowship, even stay overnight and rest. Everyone stays together and nobody gets separated along the way and all is well.

       All of a sudden you realize you are being followed. Not just by one car or even two. No, this is a massive fleet of vehicles chasing your group at top speed. You quickly determine they are looking for you and your group.

       You remember the meeting before the journey began where it was discussed that there may be opposition on this venture and you could be followed. You didn’t expect this though! Your group was prepared with the necessary equipment for just such an emergency but you are trying to out-run the attackers. A high-speed chase ensues and your entire group is fleeing together.

       You are making headway but then the uncanny happens? There is only one way to get ahead and away from these menacing stalkers who mean to do your entire group harm. Not to mention they out number your group ten to one. You look ahead on the road you are fleeing on and realize there is a massive body of water in front of you. “No worries”, you think, “there is a bridge”. Then you see the sign… “Turn Back… Bridge Out”.

       There is no possible chance of turning back, the attackers are now surrounding you on all sides. You are trapped and the attackers are getting closer. It’s time to get out and fight! But how would you ever go up against so many opponents with only the few weapons your group has brought with them. You rush to meet with the leader of your group to form a plan and you are dumbfounded to hear that his instructions are to “Put down your weapons”. In complete disbelief, you begin shouting distrusting statements at your leader and preparing to gather the group for battle.

       “Trust”, your leader calls out to the group, “just trust”. Then just when you think all is lost and your entire group is about to be slain, you hear a rushing sound growing louder and louder. Seeming to see something you all haven’t seen yet, the attackers slam on their breaks and are staring beyond your group at the body of water. Turning your attention that direction, you begin seeing the water rising on each side and getting shallower in the center. Is this really happening? This continues to happen until there is nothing but dry ground through this body of water.

       Staring in utter amazement, your stun gaze seems to be watching in slow motion at what is surely not really happening. You faintly hear voices shouting to get in your cars and flee. Jolted out of your shocked stupor, you run to your vehicle and in a Dukes of Hazzard style motion, you slide across the hood and jump in and punch the gas. You all make it across the valley of dry land where there had just been a large aquatic mass. Screeching to a halt on the other side, you all look back, surely the attackers have followed this dry ground trail to catch up with you again. Just as your group gets across this make-shift pathway and the villains are making their way across, you hear loud cracking and rumbling. The water rushes back over the ground that you just crossed and you are safe from these attackers who sought to do all of you harm.  

       How could this be? How could you get the last car through the clearing just in time?

Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.” (NIV)

       This verse is snuggly in the center of the Hebrew slaves fleeing Egypt’s Farrow. The Egyptian army is hot on their trail. The people were surrounded on three sides by soldiers and on the fourth side was the Red Sea. With no way out and not enough man power or strong enough weapons, this is the advice they are given.   

       Friends when you feel the battle is closing in on you, put down your weapons and let the Lord fight for you. His weapons are mightier and infallible. He has artillery that we have no way of duplicating. No man-made weapon, AKA, our own ways of handling a situation, can compare with the way God can handle it.

       Did someone else get that promotion at work? The Lord will fight for you.

Did another person get that ministry opportunity? The Lord will fight for you.

Has someone else gotten an answer to prayer and you’re still waiting? The Lord will fight for you.

Has a friend disappointed you? The Lord will fight for you.  

Have you been accused of a deed you didn’t do? The Lord will fight for you.

Has your marriage taken a hard hit from infidelity? The Lord will fight for you.

Does your child want nothing to do with God after being raised to know and love Him? The Lord will fight for you.

       I have to keep reminding myself of this verse when I feel taken advantage of or week with the exhaustion of trying to fix a situation or frustrated with watching injustice happen around me.

       Table family, write this verse on a post-it notes or note card or some scrap of paper and place it where you can read it each morning as you start your day. Make it your screen saver on your computer or phone.  God wants us to put down our weapons and let Him fight the battle. Will you put them down and get behind God? Let’s put them down together alright?       

I Can’t Be There for My Husband

Hi table family! I am coming to you this week with more of an informational post and asking for your prayers.

       My husband is having surgery on Friday. Many of you have had surgery this year or had a loved one who had surgery. It’s a very different process now.

       I can’t be with my husband this time. Due to COVID-19, there are places that are not allowing visitors in the hospital. Where I am is one of those places. This breaks my heart as I’ve always been at my husbands’ side when he wakes up from surgery. I won’t be able to see him until he comes home three days later.

       Of course, I’ll talk to him but I won’t be able to hold his hand and take care of him the way I always have in the past. Many of you have had this experience in 2020. My heart goes out to you.

       This is perhaps one of the greatest opportunities we have to put our full faith and trust in Jesus. Placing the one person on earth who means the most to you in the hands of our all-mighty God is our best option anyway and this surgery affords me the chance to put A L L of my faith in God. Have you had to do the same?

       So, I ask please for your prayers to be added to mine for a successful outcome and guided hands and excellent care. I would be honored to have my table family praying for my husband.

       I would also love to pray for you if you might still be facing this situation in 2020. I would be happy to pray for you if you are currently going through a similar situation. I pray if you already went through it, that it all went according to God’s plans.

       This is what I wanted to share with you this week… that and this Bible verse…

Jeremiah 17:7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.”

       This verse isn’t suggesting that we only have trust “IN” the Lord… but that our trust “IS” the Lord! In other words, our trust and our God are one in the same. Place your trust in the one who IS trust.

       Thank you for your prayers and I’ll give you an update after the surgery. Blessings table family. Much love to you all.      

The Fires Of Life

Imagine you are trapped by a grass fire and you can’t see any way out. You are calling for help but you don’t know if anyone can even hear you…

       Hello again table family! Is your seat comfortable? Pour that hot beverage and grab a treat to nibble on. Let’s talk a bit more about this scene after we pray…

       Father in Heaven, I ask for you to open our minds to the imagery here and help us to glean from it what you would have us to glean. In Jesus name, Amen.

       A blazing fire is raging around you and you have no idea how it started or where you are. You have no way out or at least one that you can see. The flames are circling around you and seem to be poking at you from every direction. Oh, and to add to the fear… you are blind.

       This is a scene from one of my favorite Little House episodes. Mary and Adam are traveling in the stage coach to catch a train. Adam has just been told that he received a prestige’s award and he is to go and accept it with Mary by his side. However, they never make it there.

       When they begin the stage coach ride, the driver makes a decision to pull off in a neighboring town to fix the rickety wheel he’s been having trouble with. But before he is able to reach the town, the wheel falls apart and the coach tumbles down an embankment rolling over several times. Adam is thrown from the coach and is now pinned under it by his legs. There is another woman in the coach but she has been knocked unconscious and we later learn she has several broken ribs. So she is unable to go for help. The driver has been killed and Mary is the only one left to go for help on her own. Since she is blind, she has to navigate direction by feeling the sun on her face.

       Walking towards the heat of the sun, she begins climbing the embankment they rolled down. She reaches the edge with some difficulty and just when she tries to pull herself up and over, she loses her footing and falls backward down the embankment once again. Hitting her head, she is now unconscious. The blazing sun is beating down on her and the camera pans in on the glasses she had put in her pocket for the award ceremony. Adam had tried to convince her to use them to illustrate a point but now here they lie in the grass with the heat of the scorching sun shining through the lenses.

       Now there has sparked a flame that engulfs the grassy ledge surrounding Mary. The smoke and heat rouses her from unconsciousness and she discovers she is about to be embraced by enormous flames. She begins screaming for help, but who would hear her? Would she get out of this alive?

       Have you ever felt like the fires of life are just going to consume you? Like the inferno is about to scorch and devour you? Have you felt like there is simply no way out and no one hears you screaming for help? Have you felt blinded in your circumstances?

       Financial struggles, divorce, infidelity, job loss, a wandering child, a hurtful friendship, death… all of these can feel overwhelming and flame like. Threatening to burn us to ashes. The heat from it all is suffocating. We scream for help internally and hope… pray someone will hear us… see us. Don’t they even see the rising smoke from our inferno?

They must come quickly or we will be consumed.

       Daniel 3:27 “and the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them.” (ESV)

       Do you know what happened to Mary while she was trapped by that fire? Her “Pa” had been out looking for the missing coach and he saw the smoke. As he drew closer, he heard his daughter screaming for help. When fear and fire threatened to consume her, Mary heard her Father’s voice and felt his arms come around her and lift her out of the ferocious flames.

       When you feel this kind of heat and fear, remember that your Heavenly Father will lift you from the blaze. He protected the three Hebrew boys from the fiery furnace and He will protect you too! Trust that your Father will see your smoke and hear your cries for help and He will rescue His child from being consumed by a fire.

       I encourage you to read Daniel chapter three and see how powerful your God is. As Mary cried out, “Pa help me… help me Pa, help me!”, you can cry out to your Pa too. He hears you and He sees you. Trust Him to save you.

       I just love the way my childhood show that I still love today, is a tool God allows me to use for inspiration. God really does care about the little things. Blessings table family… blessings!   

What Word Would You Use?

Hello Table family and Happy Thanksgiving!!! Tomorrow is the big day! I so wish we could all sit around the table and share Thanksgiving dinner together. This year probably looks quite different than other years, right? Well let’s talk about that. Grab a piece of that freshly baked banana bread I just made and a cup of coffee or tea and let’s pray together first…

       Father in Heaven, we are so thankful to gather here together and pray together and talk. Lord things are unusual this year and I ask that You would remind us of all the reasons we have to be thankful. Speak to us here Father. In Jesus name, Amen.

       So in years past you may have had a large gathering at your table for Turkey day and had lot’s of dishes being brought to the table that have always been Thanksgiving staples. Maybe you went over to Aunt Barb and Uncle George’s house for Thanksgiving and you brought the favored dish. Maybe you have always been alone on Thanksgiving and this year you were finally getting together with someone and it had to be canceled.

       Whatever has been the normal Thanksgiving traditions may have been rearranged or called off and it can be frustrating. I’ve heard so many words to describe the year 2020, some of these words are:

Rotten

Terrible

Uncertain

Awful

Junky

…and other words I’d prefer not to say here.

       What words would you use?

       I’d like to offer some suggestions if I may. Let’s try to take another perspective…

Different

Opportunistic

Strengthening

Educational

Experiential

Unforgettable

Gathering

…and other words I don’t have room to put here.

       This has been a year of discovery about our potentials and strengths as we have had to think outside the proverbial box and lean on areas of our lives we didn’t before. New on-line businesses have been born, resourcefulness has been seen, relationships have been formed and blossomed.

       For me, I’ve had writing opportunities that I might not have otherwise had. I attended a life changing conference I wouldn’t have been able to attend if it wasn’t virtual. I’ve made some wonderful new friends that I met on line because there was no other option. I’ve spent more time with my husband then I’ve been able to in the recent past. Our family spent more time together as well. I’ve been able to make time to connect with friends and church family on a more personal level and cultivate current relationships more fully.

       The point is that it’s all in perspective as to how you will describe the year 2020. I understand that sometimes we just feel down about the way this year has turned out. There has been a lot that has been missed out on. But keeping our focus on what we did have can make all the difference in moving into 2021. Choose Thankfulness. I know it isn’t always and easy choice but it certainly is a choice.

       I’d love to hear what you’ve been thankful for in this most unusual year of 2020. I am thankful for all of you!

       Happy Thanksgiving to each of you and be blessed in what ever you are doing tomorrow! Hugs and love to you all!    

Doesn’t It Matter that I am Hurting?

So, imagine you have just found a big dent in your car that wasn’t there when you went into the store. You have a ticket on that same car for parking in a No Parking zone and you are certain they put that sign there while you were in that store. Then when you get home from that store and began hauling groceries inside, the bags ripped and your jar of pickles shattered on the garage floor along with the dozen eggs you needed for a recipe that night for dinner.

       Hello and welcome back to the table! Pull up a chair, grab your coffee or tea and let’s talk about this bad day you’ve had. Let’s pray together first huh?

       Father in Heaven, we come before You and ask that You open our hearts and minds to hear these words. May we be renewed and refreshed by this message. In Jesus name, Amen.

       Okay, so you must be feeling pretty low after a day like that right? You might ask the question “could it get any worse?” and you might go to your spouse or a friend to vent your frustrations. I’ve certainly done that after a rough day.

       You may hear anything from “I’m sorry you had such a rotten day” to “well at least it’s over now” to “Let me tell ya about my day”. But honestly, I feel like the most dismissive and overlooking statement someone can offer is “You know, someone always has it worse than you.

       Though this may be a true statement, it can feel like we are being a… well… cry-baby of sorts when we have a terrible day. Everyone goes through these kinds of days and it’s important to validate our feelings about it. If we don’t, it can begin to feel like God only cares about the really big problems in life and doesn’t have time to hear about our floor style scrambled eggs with relish. He does in fact care about those things.

       It may seem like the helpful reminder to someone that things could be worse, but where does that line get drawn for validation? When we have such days, that is our hard time moment in life. We can only sort out or deal with one day at a time so there isn’t any point in reflecting on another day that could be worse.

       Do you remember the scene in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation where the Christmas tree burns up, the family is at each other’s throat, there is an unwanted dog trashing the place after chasing a squirrel up and down the stairs? The family is putting on their coats and preparing to leave the craziness per the suggestion of the wife. She told him it was best for everyone to go home before things get any worse. Clark Griswold is shocked at his wife’s response and shouts “how could things get any worse?”

       It seems rather unusual to me to console someone with the idea that it could be worse. I feel validation for the way they are presently feeling displays compassion and caring for their feelings. After all, God cares about their feelings.

       It’s important to hear the thoughts and emotions of someone struggling with something and give validity to how they feel. We don’t need to let them stay in a pit of despair or anything but just letting a person know that you hear them and empathize with them without the declaration that things could be worse. It’s okay to feel bad after a bad day and not be seen as someone who doesn’t know how good they have it. We can still know we are blessed in the midst of a rotten day.

       I think the best thing someone could say to me while I’m having “A day” is something like:

“I hear you. I’m so sorry you are having such a time right now. It’s difficult to be happy right now and it’s okay to not be. You have good reason to be frustrated. I know you know God has your back in all this but right now I understand you are feeling down.”

       Something like this let’s a person know they don’t have to add salt in the wound by having a lousy day and now should feel guilty for feeling frustrated or unhappy.

Psalm 40:17 “As for me, I am poor and needy but the Lord takes thought for me, you are my help and my deliverer do not delay, oh my God.” (ESV)”

       We see in this verse that God thinks about us, takes notice of us, looks after us. It doesn’t say He does this only in the big circumstances.

       Make no mistake that God sees every dent, every ticket and every broken egg and pickle jar. He is attentive and compassionate in all our situations, even the ones we feel guilty for fretting over.

       If God validates our feelings and we are made in His image, then we can validate others feelings too. We can also ditch the guilt about our own feelings about our feelings. Validate how you feel, sort out the why’s behind them and let God begin to wipe away the angst. It’s not wrong to feel bad over a bad day.

       I hope these words help someone to let go of the concept that we should always remember that someone else has it worse than us. Allow the feelings for a time and know that God cares about your feelings too. Be blessed my friends and I’ll see ya next week!   

Is There Something More I Can be Doing for You?

Hi all! I know we are in some difficult times right now so I’d like to start right off with a prayer…

   Father in Heaven, I ask that You would come very near to all of us during these most unusual and uncertain times. We know You are forever on the Throne and we ask that You would help us to remember that and turn to You. I ask Lord for Your guidance in helping each of us use our various gifts and talents to better serve You now more then ever Father. In Jesus name, Amen.

       When I was given the opportunity to receive computer training, I had a choice to make. Would I go back to school to become a Councilor or would I pursue a writing course. I felt very strongly God calling me to write. But the desire to help people was still there.

       I knew writing could help people as well so I chose that path. I still have this need if you will, to come along side people in a more personal way and walk with them on their journey. My writing opportunities are expanding as I am now writing for an amazing on-line magazine called Christian Women Living. You can find them at:  

christianwomenliving.com

       These ladies have an awesome vision for this magazine and I’m excited to go down this road with them. There is another opportunity I am exploring and I’d love your input so I can move forward with more wisdom. If you were to want someone to guide you in a particular area of life, what would that area be? Do you need guidance in your spiritual walk? In your relationships? Self-worth or self-respect? Past hurts or regrets you can’t seem to let go of? Where do you need help?

       I feel as if God is now showing me how I can blend the two desires He’s given me and bring Him honor in the areas He has gifted me.

1 Peter 4:10 – 11 “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace. Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God, whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever, Amen.” (ESV)

       We all possess talents from God, we often have more then one talent to offer for His service. Whatever those talents are, we should do our very best to use them each and all for the glory of God. We don’t all have to be in ministry to do that by the way.

       My husband is a master carpenter and he uses the gifts and talents he has in his building projects. By doing his best, he is offering his best to God. Because Jeremy offers his best, people will often ask him if he is a Christian because of his demeanor. So, God does use us in any job or career if we allow Him to. Now I feel it’s time to expand the areas of ministry God has given me and so if you could share with me the answers to your needs, it would help me to move forward more affectively.

       You all have been such an integral part of how I move forward and make beneficial changes in my ministry. I look to you all after looking to God to see what needs need to be met and how I can better do that.

       As you ponder the answers you want to give me, think about how God has gifted you and share that with me too! I’d love to encourage you in that. Blessings be to all of you and I thank you for visiting my table. I look forward to seeing you in the comments!            

Organizing Your Friends Image

Hey all, I thought I would be able to get this image to you on Thursday without assistance but I wasn’t able to do it myself. I had to wait for another set of working eyes to get it posted. So here is the target image for you to start organizing friends to have some healthy relationships. I hope this helps you as it has me. Thanks for being patient with me… again.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Organizing Our Friends

C’mon in and have a seat! I have some hot beverages ready and some banana bread on the table, so let’s start with prayer and then talk…

   Father in Heaven, I pray this tool is helpful to many as it has been helpful to me. I thank you for this opportunity to share what You have laid on my heart and may it reach who needs to hear this and apply it. In Jesus name, Amen.

       Remember in our visit last week we talked about setting boundaries and such. I kind of feel like boundaries is getting over used and so I’d like to take a little different approach. Not that the phrase “setting boundaries” is not still completely relevant and acceptable. I just like to look at it in another variation.

       I’d like to start with Jesus and His disciples. We had the following men:

Peter

Andrew

James

John

Phillip

Bartholomew

Thomas

Matthew

James

Judas

Jude

Simon

       Here we see Jesus’s circle if you will. These men were His trusted friends and He traveled with, AKA, did life with, these twelve men. They each had their respective rolls and talents to be used for the furthering of the ministry of Jesus.

       But within this circle, we see that Jesus had an “inner” circle.

Mark 5:37 “and He allowed no one to follow Him except Peter and James and John the brother of James.” (ESV)

       Jesus had a special connection to these three men within His twelve. He sought comfort and solace in the company of these select three. Jesus makes no apologies for having three close friends among the group. He treated all of them with love and respect, however this smaller trio held a special place in His heart. These were the three He called nearer to Him just before His crucifixion to pray for Him and minister to Him in a very difficult time.

       Then we even see one extra ordinary relationship within the three. Jesus calls this one His beloved. It is John. This friend is closer than a brother. Jesus looks into John’s eyes while hanging on the cross and gives Him to His mother as a son to replace the one she is losing.

John 19:26 “When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’” (ESV)

       This one disciple was so precious to Jesus that He wanted him to be a son to the mother He was leaving behind. Now that’s a close friend!

       So, as we can see, it’s not un-Christ-like to have special friends within a group of friends. But let us not forget about the one disciple who betrayed Jesus. Judas, the one who sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Sold Him to those who had malice on their minds and hate in their hearts. Do you have a sort of Judas in your life?

       Notice that Jesus didn’t cut Judas off as a friend. He simply wasn’t in His inner circle and He let Judas do what he was set on doing and that’s all. Jesus did not bring Judas into the inner circle and my own imagination leads me to believe that He shared only what He had too with him. I don’t think there was a lot of personal sharing going on between Jesus and Judas. So we can still lovingly keep certain friends in our lives or even family members, and love them from a distance.

       So here is my method…

       I set up my circle of people on a target. The very outer ring of a target is where I would place friends who I converse with and see occasionally. They are not people I would share personal events or feelings with, ask to pray for me from, or ask advice from. While I value them as a human being, the closeness is lacking.

       The second of four rings are reserved for friends who know a little more about what’s going on in my life and I may ask for general prayers from them but leaving out personal details. While I value them as a human being, there may not be full access to my heart.

       Ring number three holds the friends I’ve had for a long time and I know that even though we may not talk all the time, I can ask their advice on certain topics and I can share a few more details of a prayer request such as names or struggles but still leaving out ALL the personal details.

       The fourth ring is the Peter, James, and John ring, or more affectionately called the “PJ&J Ring”. These are the trusted friends that never let you down on the days it really matters. You can go to these friends with anything and you will not be judged, cast out, or shot down. These are your go to peeps at the end of a very long and faith shaking day.

       Now there is the bulls eye dot in the middle of the target. The John spot. I feel like this could hold more then one person but that’s an individual choice. My husband is dead center of the bull’s eye and others come in around him.

       Now let me clarify this… we are talking about earthly relationships here. Jesus reins supreme in my heart but outside of that, we are speaking of physical relationships we interact with in our daily lives.

       The people in the bull’s eye have elite access to my heart and life for personal details on a prayer request. They will pray with me and for me. They know when to not ask too many questions and when more questions need to be asked. They will respect when I need space and not take it personally and they know when to come and knock on my door. They walk through the fire with me and know when to put out the flames from a distance. They come along side me, hold me up when I can’t take another step and run with me in excitement.

       Truth be told, I’ve had to move people around on my target over the years. Some had to be moved from the fourth ring all the way out to the first ring. Some have had to be taken off the target all together. It hurts my heart to do that but it is completely necessary to have peace.

       Some of these relationships were causing me physical illness, mental distress, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness… the list goes on. We can still value those people as human beings but they don’t have to have access to our hearts. It’s not un-Christ-like to love from a distance. It’s a much healthier way to maintain a relationship and not be bulldozed or any of the above-mentioned issues.

       Thursday I’m going to send out a picture of a target that you should be able to print off and start organizing your friends. This has allowed me to not have so much angst about my relationships and still handle it in a loving way. I hope this will be helpful to you as well. Blessings friends… blessings.            

Aren’t Boundaries Un-Christ-like

Welcome… Welcome back to the table! My table is covered with a beautiful rich wine-colored table cloth with a white sheer square in the middle. I have Autumn battery operated candles in the center and plenty of room for all! Pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea or maybe even some hot cider and let’s chat.

       Father in Heaven, may we learn a valuable lesson about protecting ourselves from negative influence, so that we can better serve You. There is the abundant life You want us to have so we ask for Your guidance here in seeing one key to having that life. In Jesus name, Amen.

       Have you ever needed to set boundaries with certain people but it felt sort of… mean to do that? Like somehow you were telling them they couldn’t sit at the cool kid lunch table? I have struggled with this so much in my life. To the point of physical ailment! I would have literal physical symptoms like elevated blood pressure, upset stomach, headaches, anxiety, dread, sleeplessness… real issues.

       I knew it was right to place boundaries in situations that were outside of my circle. Circle of family, friends, church… people who I didn’t necessarily “do life” with. That was a little easier. But what about setting boundaries within that circle?

2 Timothy 3:2 – 5 says “For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of Godliness but denying it’s power, avoid such people.” (ESV)

       We can see in these verses that boundaries are endorsed by God. I have had people who meet these qualifications and I’ve had to set some pretty firm boundaries. I realized that often times boundaries aren’t to keep someone else out as much as it is to help keep us held together.

       If we are constantly drained from being run rough-shod over by so called friends, family, or even other people that we care about, then we will be ineffective in being a help to anyone. Our moods change and we are mentally and physically exhausted. Our health begins to take a toll and we simply are left with an empty cup.

       Imagine your flowers or house plants being dried out and in much need of watering. You wouldn’t expect to pick up your water can or jug and take it over to your plants and pour out water without first filling the vessel, right? It simply doesn’t make sense. We can’t get water, AKA, nourishment, from an empty cup. Why do we then think we can continually nourish others when we are not being filled up?

       If other plants were in addition, taking nourishment from healthy plants, thus leaving them depleted, wouldn’t you eliminate the life sucking plant or at least move it away from the healthy plant? This is setting boundaries. Not allowing life sucking behavior to deplete healthy lives. We are doing Christ-like behavior when we set boundaries so as not to cause unneeded stress on a healthy life that is being nourishing to others. I’ve had to re-evaluate what I think God is asking of me in my ministry and how my relationships are affecting that ministry. Also, how those relationships are affecting my health and life.

       I’ve also learned that setting boundaries allows for relationships to remain in tact but with some new placements. We don’t necessarily have to cut someone out of our lives to set up boundaries. It’s a matter of a type of parking meter. We have so much time we’ve allowed for this relationship and when that time is up, we need to pull away from the curb, but you still drove there and parked for a time. This keeps the relationship in tact at a healthy and doable level.

       Now please understand that this post is not referring to abusive and dangerous relationships. Those need to be addressed in an entirely different manner. Please seek help and get to a safe place if that is the case. I am only addressing unhealthy relationships that are more taking then giving. I am not a councilor or therapist. I just have some experience dealing with these types of relationships.

       The above passage of scripture tells us to flat out avoid such toxic or unhealthy people. We want to be loving and Christ-like when dealing with difficult folks but it’s not unkind to protect yourself against such toxicity. Jesus made conscious choices to deny people who were demanding and forceful about the way things were going to be. He knew that doing His Fathers will was far more important then giving in to, well… tantrums. If someone is demanding more of us then we are able to give, then that person is only seeking their own agenda. If someone is making themselves more elevated then you, then they are displaying self-seeking ideas as well. If someone attempts to thwart your plans to suit their own feelings, then they do not have any interest in your well-being.

       These are all reasons to set healthy boundaries. We can show love from the edge of these boundaries. It is in love that we set them. Love for Jesus, love for ourselves, and yes… even love for the person you need to set boundaries with. This tells them that they still hold value in your life because if they didn’t, you could just cut them off all together. We just have limits to how much access they have so we don’t end up getting frazzled or frustrated. We can hold on to joy and peacefulness. I have seen this to be true in my life now. But I’m still on the journey of boundaries.

       Next week I’ll share my method of what setting boundaries actually looks like in a tangible way. I’ve come up with something that works for me and I hope it’s helpful to you as well. Blessings my dear valued readers and if your coffee or tea is gone, feel free to geta refill!  

See ya next week!