Family Ministry

advice, thoughts, and discussion

Please don’t confront me….and I won’t confront you.

I’m terrible with confrontation. When I know that there is some sort of conflict that needs to be dealt with, I can’t sleep at night, I can’t eat, and I feel physically ill. I can’t stand it when I think people don’t like me or are having relationship issues with me. But, let’s face it! We can’t please all people at all times. There’s always going to be someone who doesn’t agree with you or who doesn’t like the ways that you deal with different situations in your life.

How do we resolve conflict in the right way?

“According to Ken Sande, author of The Peacemaker—A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict and president of Peacemaker® Ministries, a ministry devoted to equipping and assisting Christians to respond to conflict biblically, the reason is clear. “Many believers and their churches have not yet developed the ability to respond to conflict in a gospel-centered and biblically faithful manner,” explains Sande. “When Christians become peacemakers, they can turn conflict into an opportunity to strengthen relationships and make their lives a testimony to the love and power of Jesus Christ.”

So, how can we become peacemakers instead of hiding from conflict or from being too aggressive?

“Peacemakers are people who breathe grace,” says Sande. “They draw continually on the goodness and power of Jesus Christ, and then they bring his love, mercy, forgiveness, strength, and wisdom to the conflicts of daily life.”

This reminds me of Matthew 5:24, that tells us that we must be reconciled to others.

Here’s some tips and tools for healthy reconciliation (Focus on the Family Ministries):

  • Define the problem and stick to the issue. Clearly define the issue and stay on topic during the discussion. Conflict deteriorates when the issue that started the conflict gets lost in angry words, past issues, or hurts tossed into the mix.
  • Pursue purity of heart. “Take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:5 NASB). Before approaching others regarding their faults and shortcomings, prayerfully face up to your own. Confess any way you might have contributed to the problem.
  • Plan a time for the discussion. Plan a time to meet with the other person when you are both rested and likely to respond in love to the other person’s concerns. When you are tired, stressed, and distracted with other responsibilities, things rarely will go well.
  • Affirm the Relationship. Affirm the relationship before clearly defining the problem. For example, “Our relationship is important to me. But when you don’t return my calls, I feel rejected and unimportant.” Avoid blaming the other person and saying, “You make me feel…” Instead, say, “When you do ‘A’, I feel ‘B’. ” Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, How to Have That Difficult Conversation You’ve Been Avoiding(Grand Rapids: Zondervan0 2005), 51.*By applying these practical tips and tools for resolving conflict to your relationships, you can turn obstacles into opportunities to demonstrate the love and power of the gospel. What’s more, you will know the deep, abiding joy that comes through obedience to God’s Word.

    “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).

  • Listen carefully. Once you share your feelings, listen to the other person’s perspective. Lean in; be present. “One of the most powerful communication techniques I know is to listen well,” points out Sande. Make sure your body language conveys that you are open to the other’s perspective. Reflect back to the individual what you believe you have heard. For example, “I heard you say that you feel expectations from me. Is that correct?”
  • Forgive. Forgive others as Christ has forgiven you. “Forgiveness is both an event and a process,” Sande says. He suggests you make forgiveness concrete with four promises:
  • I promise I won’t bring this up and use it against you in the future.
  • I promise I’m not going to dwell on it in my own heart and mind.
  • I’m not going to talk to other people about it.
  • I’m not going to let it stand between us or hinder our personal relationship.
  • Propose a solution. Remember the relationship is more important than the issue. When working toward a solution, consider Philippians 2:4-5: “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” Seek solutions that keep everyone’s best interests in mind.

Resolve some of the conflict in your life this week. Let’s be peacemakers.


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Fall…what a great time of year

Today I was driving to work on this beautiful cool and rainy day (I know, most people don’t say a cool and rainy day in September is nice….but I’m a little different). Anyways, I was driving this morning and thinking of all of the things that I love to do during the fall – picking apples, drinking apple cider, baking, decorating, passing out candy on Halloween, raking leaves…and jumping in them. All the good stuff. Then I was thinking, what are some things that our families can do this fall to help them get closer to each other and to God?

So, as always I turned to one of my favorite sources – Focus on the Family. There’s a really great article that you should read with some different ideas. But, here’s a few to start with:

– Take an adventurous bike ride. Most towns have bike trails. Fall is a great time of year to throw on a sweatshirt and see how far you can bike. Maybe you can even stop at a restaurant for dinner!

– Bake cookies, pie, or a cake together. This will help your family to work like a team and will help your kids to follow directions (and the recipe will reward you when you do!)

– Have a movie night. Pick a few of your favorite fall-themed movies and make a night of it! One of my favorites is, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” You could even make some caramel popcorn!

– Have a WII or board game night. Now that nights are cooler and get darker earlier, have the kids stay inside to play after dinner. My husband and I own a Play Station Move, and it can be a lot of fun to play on days where it’s too cool to go outside!

– Have your kids go to grandma’s house or to a friend’s house so you can have alone time with your spouse. Stay home and cook dinner together and play games or just spend time talking. Nurturing your marriage will exponentially nurture your family and relationship with your kids!

– Serve!!! You can teach your kids how to care for others and have fun while doing it by serving at a local Humane Society, Homeless Shelter, or Soup Kitchen!

Remember, Proverbs 22:6; “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Here’s something my dad always used to say to me when I thought I was a know-it-all, “I know you know…show me you know.” If you teach your kids how to be a good spouse, Caring Christian, and family oriented person through actions instead of words, they are ten times more likely to follow through with those practices and ideas. Show them.

What are some special things that your family does to celebrate the season? Have a very Happy Fall!

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Remembrance is a good thing.

On my way to the church this morning, I was listening to a radio broadcast, as I typically do. The announcers were talking about how it’s so much easier to forget about what happened on this day, more than a decade ago. They were talking about how we “just need to move on.” At first I agreed with them, but then I thought, “Why shouldn’t we remember such an important day in our country’s history?”

I remember September 11th, 2001. I was in 7th grade. I remember being in class when there was an announcement that all classes need to report immediately to the auditorium. Once we arrived, our principal told us that our country had been attacked, and that our parents had been notified that we were all going to be bussed to our homes immediately. That bus ride was probably the quietest bus ride that I can remember from my school career. I doubt that the other kids were quiet, but I know that I couldn’t hear anything aside from the frantic thoughts running through my mind. You see, my parents work for the Internal Revenue Service, a governmental department that people tend to dislike. And there were bomb threats at my parents’ offices all the time. Had it been their buildings that were destroyed?

As I walked in the door, both of my parents were sitting on the couch. They were watching a broadcast of the twin towers being destroyed. My parents explained that this had been a terrorist attack and that they had been sent home from work, picking up my baby brother from my grandma’s house on the way. There had been threats at my parents’ offices, and at Niagara Falls, the near-by natural wonder and power supply for a large amount of the United States.

As time unfolded, we heard about the Pentagon attack and the plane that grounded when people on board stood up for our country. I remember when anthrax was being distributed and how the “war on terror” started. That seems so long ago. I had to learn about the heartbreak of a country at such a young age. My brother doesn’t remember what this country was like before 9/11/01. He was too young. He doesn’t know what it was like to have your family waiting for you at the gate after a flight. Or how quick it used to be to go through security. Or what it was like to know no families where their kids were off to war.

Our country stood strong after the September 11th attacks. American flags were sold out of stores. You’d be hard pressed to find a house that didn’t have their flag soaring high. So many people lost loved ones. My parents lost some dear friends in the twin towers. We all lost our sense of safety and superiority.

But what have we lost since then? Has our attempt to forget the pain of the past caused us to lose our sense of country? Our sense of togetherness? Have we gone back to our superiority ideals and our obsession with our differences?

I think we all need to remember. Lamentations 3:20-23; “I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

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Labor Day….Just another day off of school?

I went back to Buffalo, NY for a wedding this past weekend. It was beautiful! But, while I was there and visiting some family, my uncle made a statement, “Labor day is a day where parents have off of work, and their kids need to labor around the house since they don’t have school.” And I thought, what is labor day for…really? I mean, is it just another day that we have off of work and school (unless you go to a Christian college as my husband does…)?

So, as I typically do when I’m curious, I began to research. And I came across the website for the U.S. Department of Labor. What?! I bet you didn’t know it existed either. Well, here’s their definition of what Labor Day really is – “Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” So….Labor Day is just another day to celebrate how great we are as a nation? Not necessarily. “Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”

Labor Day is a day where we can say “Thank you God, that we have had such generous people come before us and make this country free, strong, and generally safe and prosperous.” I don’t think I’ve ever taken the time to thank the generations who worked so hard before me so that I could live such a prosperous and comfortable life in this country. It also makes me remember that I need to thank God for creating this earth and for sustaining it. It makes me think of a Psalm that I really enjoy to read. Psalm 100 says –

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

What did you do today to thank God and Generations before you for all that you’ve been privileged to be blessed with on this Labor Day?

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