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My post today is the fourth and final one in my series on being a peacemaker. In part one and two I wrote about five things that peacemakers must do. And in part three I wrote about two more: they must be willing to state their opinions as opinions and they must be willing to ask permission before sharing those opinions. And just as my first three posts were inspired by the Scripture (in italics) I read that night so many years ago, today’s post was as well.

 

“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

Try to be sympathetic and compassionate of John’s situation. John’s mind and heart are a complicated mess of darkness and emotion, remember that when you are tempted to be affected by him. I know that it is easy to be affected and offended by John but stand above that. Be unmoved by his words. When he makes emotional statements, do not respond to them! Stick to the issue and to reality, do not get lost in his emotion.

 

“If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. All wrong-doing is sin and there is sin that does not lead to death.”

Pray for John. Pray unceasingly for him. Pray for his heart. Pray that you will have wisdom to know how to love him. Pray that his eyes and ears will be opened. Pray that he will allow you into his life. Pray, pray, pray.

 

“My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

Keep loving him! That is all you can do right now. Hopefully, prayerfully, John’s eyes and ears will someday be opened and if and when that day comes you will be there to help guide him. But until then, keep loving him. Who knows, your love may be the very thing that brings him to that day.

 

Do you struggle to be compassionate towards people who are hard to get along with?

How often do you pray for the people in your life?

Are you diligent about loving those around you?

 

I hope and pray that the words I have shared with you over the past week have in some way been a blessing to you and to the relationships in your life. I have included a summary (below) of the ten things we have covered. As always, thank you for reading!

His and Yours,

~Echo~

 

In summary:

Peacemakers must…

…be slow to speak.

…speak to their listener.

…be sincere.

…be willing to let disagreements go for the sake of a relationship.

show people God’s love rather than just telling them about it.

…be willing to state their opinions as opinions.

…be willing to ask permission before sharing their opinions.

…be compassionate.

…pray without ceasing.

…be diligent about loving those around them.

 

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

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Welcome to part three of my series on being a peacemaker. In part one of this series I blogged about two things peacemakers must do. And in part two I blogged about three more: they must be sincere, they must be willing to let disagreements go for the sake of a relationship and they must show people God’s love rather than just telling them about it. Today I want to share with you two more thoughts inspired by verses (in italics) I read that night several years ago.

 

“There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and destroy. But you-who are you to judge your neighbor?”

There was a time in my life when I presented my opinions as law. Instead of a statement being my perspective, or my opinion, it was law. For various reasons, I cannot do that anymore. That may be good, that may be bad (I haven’t decided yet) but I just can’t find it within myself to express my beliefs as law. I encourage you to consider this. For example: Instead of stating: “The beach is the best place to go on vacation.”, consider: “I believe the beach is the best place to go on vacation.” I have found that less doors are closed when a subject is approached this way. Also, this guarantees that you are right! It is true that you believe the beach is the best place to go on vacation.  (I don’t actually know that you believe this, I’m just using it as an example.) Therefore, no one can argue whether your statement is true or not. And as an added bonus, you come across as more approachable if they want to discuss their opposing belief with you. Let God be the judge of John. If he asks for your opinion, your advice, your help, then by all means, be eager. But otherwise, in this particular case, let God deal with him.

 

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

Another thing I have changed in the last couple of years is offering my opinion when I have not been asked for it or gotten permission to share it. I try to always start a conversation with: “Can I talk to you about something?” or “Can I give you advice about something?” That way you know whether the input is welcome or not and can respond accordingly. Take the time to solidify your thoughts and beliefs so that when someone does ask, you can answer. But answer gently and respectfully…even when you don’t feel like it.

 

Do you usually present your opinions as law?

How often do you ask for permission before sharing your opinion with someone?

 

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for the fourth and final part of my series on being a peacemaker, coming soon.

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Yesterday I blogged about two things peacemakers must do: they must be slow to speak and when they do speak, they must speak to their listener. Today I want to share with you three more things peacemakers must do. These thoughts were also inspired by verses (in italics) I read that night several years ago.

 

“But the wisdom that comes from Heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”

I think it is wonderful that you are pursuing peace. Don’t give up! I know it feels hopeless but do not allow that! Be merciful of John! Be impartial to his ridiculousness but sincere in your love for him (when I say love, I mean “doing what is best for and wanting what is best for” the other person). 

 

“See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

I know it is near impossible to ignore John’s choices but I believe you currently have no other choice if you want any chance of mending things. Do you agree with him? No. Do you approve of his choices? No. Can he hear anything you say about it? I don’t think so. Let God deal with him. Maybe someday God will use you for that and I hope that if or when He intends to, you will know it without a doubt. But for now, let it go and leave it to God to deal with John.

 

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”

Let John see God’s goodness and wisdom in you by your actions, not your words. For whatever reason, John cannot (or again, will not) hear your words. For now at least, let your actions be a testimony to God’s beauty and goodness. Be humble and be forgiving of John. Show him God’s love rather than telling him about God’s love.

 

How do the peacemakers in your life show you God’s love rather than just telling you about God’s love?

Do you have a relationship with someone who’s choices you do not agree with? Have you been able to set that aside for the sake of the relationship?

 

Thanks for reading part two of my series on being a peacemaker. Stay tuned for part three, coming soon…

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

 

A few years ago, after a dear friend emailed me asking for advice, I prayed for wisdom, let my Bible fall open in my lap, and began reading. These are some of the verses (in italics) that I read that night. The words written after them are my own, inspired by those that I read. I hoped and prayed then that these words would be a blessing to my friend. I hope and pray now they will be a blessing to you.

 

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

I encourage you to talk with a neutral party before communicating any negative emotions. Find someone that you respect and admire and run your thoughts and feelings by them before sending any Emails, making any phone calls or pursuing any confrontations. Find a good “sounding board” to incorporate into your life. Also, be quick to ask questions, slow to make accusations. I have found that this is ALWAYS more effective, especially initially. Some people can handle bold statements, most can’t. Most people can handle sincere questions, few can’t. Speaking out of emotion almost always gets me in trouble. Learn to communicate emotion without communicating through emotion. This is a very hard concept for most people (myself included) and takes much practice and guidance.


“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”

Consider your words very, very carefully. Remember that everyone’s perspective is different. Speak for the benefit of your listener. If you came to me and said, “Your choices are ruining your marriage.” I would be eager to hear why you think so. If you go to John and make that exact statement, he will likely be hurt and respond defensively. Same statement, same mouth, same motives: different results. John cannot (or will not) see God or God’s love (or your “religion”) through statements like these. Remember to speak to your listener.

 

Who are the peacemakers in your life?

In what ways have they been a good example of being quick to listen and slow to speak?

Are you known to be a peacemaker?

 

Would love to hear your answers in the comment section below. Stay tuned for a continuation of “Ten Things Peacemakers Must Do”, coming soon!

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Dear R,

I feel honored that you have asked for my thoughts! I hope they will be a blessing to you and your wife and son and his girlfriend.

Short answer: If I had to do it over, I would still get married at 19. 🙂

Longer answer: After seven years of marriage and many years of watching friends date, get married, and after watching a few divorces, I do have a lot of thoughts about when to marry and how to marry.

My perspective is that age, in and of itself, is a neutral. Some people are ready for marriage at 19, some most definitely are not. I do believe that getting married and staying married is much easier, more enjoyable and more peaceful when the couple has had some training and if they have been intentional with their time before marriage.

I think the key is finding the balance between how long a couple can last not being married and staying pure, and how long they should know each other and experience life together before being in covenant with each other.

I have had several friends meet, get engaged to and then marry a person all in a year or less. It is probably possible to do this well, but in the relationships I have seen, meeting and marrying this quickly usually means that the people do not know each other very well and find out A LOT of stuff about themselves as individuals and as a couple, after the wedding day. From what I’ve seen this leads to a lot of drama, emotion, inability to work through things quickly and easily, etc… Its like these couples go through the phases of really getting to know each other as individuals and as a couple, after they become husband and wife which seems to really, really complicate the heart and how the heart deals with issues. Again, this is just what I have seen, I don’t know that it means it always HAS to be this way.

At the same time, we have seen a few couples date for many years and be incredibly impure and because of their impurity (the guilt from it, the bad patterns it created in their relationship, the distraction that it was that kept them from spending their time intentionally, etc.) still have the drama and the struggle after the wedding day because though they had the QUANTITY of time they might have needed, they did not experience the QUALITY of time that is needed to prepare well for a marriage relationship.

SO, all that to say- I believe if a couple pursues purity AND uses their time before marriage to get to know each other WELL, uses that time to get counsel and training from people who love them and who they love and respect, and uses that time to experience some life together (i.e.- don’t just go on dates all the time and spend all their energy trying to impress each other and romance each other but spend time LIVING LIFE together- serving, working, spending time with each others families, talking about the DIFFICULT subjects, arguing well, planning for their future, etc.), then yes, getting married at 19 can go very smoothly and be one of the best decisions that couple has ever made.

Also- there are some realities of life that may not be ideal for the timing of marriage (being in college, having to move around a lot, not having a lot of money, etc…) and can make things slightly more challenging for the early years of marriage, but I believe (based on my own experience, with Chaz being in school and with us being dirt poor!-although we didn’t really know it at the time, how poor we were, haha) that if the couple has a solid foundation and the training to deal with life’s issues, that those harder times can actually make the couple STRONGER, teach them a lot, help them to grow and make them more thankful in the long run.

I think those are all my thoughts for now. I hope they make sense and I hope they help! I know the feeling of wanting what is best for your child and wanting them to make good choices and struggling to see it their way when they don’t completely agree with you!

I hope and I pray that God gives each of you peace and wisdom during this time to know what is best and to love and be connected with each other no matter the direction all of this takes! And I pray a spirit of beauty, of Godly success, of love and vision over you, your wife, your son and his girl during this phase of life.

You all are in my thoughts and in my prayers. Please let me know if there is anything I can do or say to help during this time! I remember it so well. 🙂

Love you guys!!

~Echo~

P.S. If you can find the time, please keep me updated on this situation. You all will continue to be on my heart.

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I remember this night, July 17th, 2001- my heart was a mess of emotions, my head, a murkey lake, darkened by sadness and confusion and dread. It was a year filled with change and loss and unknowns. I remember sitting down, so desperate for relief, and hoping that if I could just get the words out of my head and onto a piece of paper, that maybe they would stay on that paper, and leave me the heck alone. And so I wrote my first (and only)  poem (of sorts).

—————

Shadows

As the shadows swallow my tears

The darkness echoes my cry

And I ache

Drowning in a sea of pain

My heart is exhausted

My bones are weary with sorrow

As the shadows swallow my tears

And the darkness echoes my cry

Is this the end?

Is this the beginning?

I am terrified of the answer

Time is a thief

And it is stealing all that I love

All that I love and all that I have known

Leaves fall

And with them my world

Falling, crashing down around me

I am helpless

Unable to stop the falling of the leaves

Where will they land?

Why must they fall?

I am broken and bitter

Tired and terrified

Angry and alone

Every moment is bittersweet

—————

I also remember (on this same night, after writing my poem, having more thoughts still) placing my hands on the keyboard of my computer and typing any word or phrase or sentence that entered my brain. No order. Not a lot of thought. Just writing and writing. Unloading some more of my sorrows onto my tear stained desk, the clackety clack of my fingers on the keyboard, a steady, soothing sound to my achy, tormented soul.

—————

Why

what

I miss them

I miss it

I don’t understand

I hurt

I cry

I weep

Who can stop the hands of time?

When will the pain subside?

Who needs these thoughts?

Will life ever settle down?

I am so tired

Tired of feeling

Tired of grieving

Tired of breathing

Tired of struggling

I am mad

Mad at time

I am unsettled

Who am I?

What is my purpose?

What is my path?

Why must I struggle?

Why must I grieve?

Why must I feel?

What happens next?

I breathe emotion

I am at war with the world

Unsettled

Never satisfied

It’s just a melancholy day

Lord deliver me

Lord deliver me

—————

And when I read these words tonight, having not read them in many years (perhaps even, since the night that I wrote them) all I could think was- Thank you God for Your love and Your grace and Your faithfulness. Thank you God for the ability You have given us to grow and change and be healed. Thank you God that even in our darkest moments, when our hearts hurt so much they feel as though they will break, there is always hope for tomorrow. Thank you God for the peace I am living in today.

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I was looking through old Word documents tonight and found this letter I wrote almost five years ago. As soon as I began reading it, memories and emotions from that year began flooding into my mind. What a precious time in our life- the year we became parents.

——————–

To: Daddy                                 From: MG and Mommy
 

Father’s Day 2005

Well, the list is far too long – of things we adore and appreciate about you – so we made a list of the top ten that we want to thank you for…

10. Thank you for going to work every day to provide for us and for going to school these last two years – we know it takes a lot out of you – we are very proud of how well you have done and how well you balance school work with taking care of us.

9. Thank you for not getting frustrated if we are running late or the house is a mess or dinner is not on the table – you are always so kind and forgiving.

8. Thank you for keeping smiles on our faces and laughter in our voices – for being so silly and entertaining us all the time.

7. Thank you for holding mommy when she is sad and for holding MG when she is sad. We always feel much better when you are holding us.

6. Thank you for being so humble and so quick to apologize. You are such a good example of that.

5. Thank you for protecting mommy’s purity when you guys were dating (even though there were times when you didn’t really want to) and for helping pass that legacy on to MG.

4. Thank you for being so patient with our emotions (especially mommy’s).

3. Thank you for being so open and honest with us. We feel very secure knowing that we can trust you completely.

2. Thank you for the depth of relationship that each of us has and will continue to have with you – for not viewing us as a job or a responsibility that you come home to every night.

1. Thank you most of all for loving God and for striving every day to be more like His son – because of that you have shown us a love that is greater than any other. We love you so much!

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