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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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Since January 1st I have been reading. Since January 1st I have been on this fascinating journey of discovery. I have given up on the idea that I will make it to the end by December 31st. But for the first time in my 28 years, I am confident that I will make it. And what at one point in my life felt like a chore or a check on a to-do list, has this time around felt as I believe it should and as it was intended to- like a privilege. I have learned a lot. Pondered a lot. Been encouraged and inspired. And copied entire passages into my journal to remember and reread and reread again. It has been my intention to share these passages with you all along. But hey, better 9 months late than never, ay?

Psalm 128:1-6

Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways. 

You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table.

Thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord.

May the Lord bless you from Zion all the days of your life; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem, 

and may you live to see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel.

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Inspiration can come from so many places…

– Last fall it was my dad. His knowledge of Scripture inspires me. It is truly incredible. And the stories and lessons he shares with me from Scripture inspire me too. So on January first I began reading the One Year Bible. I have made it to Joshua in the Old Testament and Luke in the New. I am excited about what is still left for me to read and learn!

– Sometime in January it was my mom. My mom inspires me, in one way or another, on a weekly basis. But in January it was a conversation about organic eating that inspired me. For about a year now I have had the desire to feed my family only organic foods. However, eating organic can be pretty expensive. And as I am also committed to a budget, I have been hesitant to spend that much more money every month. But her suggestion made sense to me- “Just switch some of the things your family eats the most. You don’t have to go cold turkey to be benefited. Little changes make a difference too.” So now we eat about 50/50. I feel better about what I am feeding my family. And my budget thanks me too.

– This spring it was zerowastehome.blogspot.com. Reading it has inspired within me a whole new perspective on quite a few different things. But more specifically it inspired me to start composting. It really is too easy and too cheap and too good for the environment not to do! So on May 11th my sweet husband surprised me with a compost bin and then this past Sunday he did all the steps required to get it started for me! (He is such a good man. I think it was about 95 degrees at the time. Good, good man.)

– Also this spring it was tumbleweedhouses.com. The whole idea of “tiny houses” is quite intriguing to me. I actually find it to be quite appealing too. And though I don’t see myself living in a tiny house anytime soon (if ever), the idea of a tiny house has inspired me to rethink what we truly need or are even benefited by in this life (like how many square feet, how many books, how many toys, how many pairs of shoes one should really own…). It has also inspired me to declutter! A process I am truly enjoying and feeling very blessed by this time around. Sooo freeing.

– Around the middle of April it was “Our Noble, Essential Decency” by Robert A. Heinlein in the book “This I Believe”. Reading that inspired this “glass-half-empty-gal” (yes, its true, as much as I hate it, I tend to be one of those glass-half-empty people), to pay more attention to, give more credit to and acknowledge more often to myself and others the kindness and thoughtfulness shown to me by the people in my life. One way I have done this is by writing down those experiences when they happen. This simple, easy practice has blessed me so much and really improved my perspective on people and life.

– Around the end of April it was a magazine article (I cannot for the life of me think of which magazine…). The article was about a mama of two who kept running (along with a support group of other preggo runners) through her entire second pregnancy. Yes, she got a lot slower. And yes, the distance she would run diminished considerably the further into her pregnancy she got. But she kept at it. And knowing that that was possible for her, has inspired me to do so as well. I may not make it to the ninth month (Or maybe I will. Who knows. We shall see.). But I can run today. And so I did. And so I will. As long as I am able.

– May 14th-21st it was the beach. Oh, the beach. I love the beach. I could (and might still) write a whole post about the beach. It inspires me in so many ways. It inspires me to spend time outside, out of the city, to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of God’s creation. It inspires me to travel. What a fascinating and magnificent planet we live on. I want to see more of it. It inspires me to spend more time with my family. All thirteen of them. They are amazing. And our family dynamic is pretty amazing too. And it inspires me to simplify. Everything we needed that week fit in the trunk of our car. Do we really need all of the other  2200 square feet of stuff that we came home to? It inspires me to run. And write. And take a deep breath. In so many ways it inspires me.

– This week it was the heat. That, combined with feeling so, so pregnant these days, has inspired me to drink more water. I have committed to downing 80+ ounces of water each and every day for the rest of this pregnancy. So far it has been surprisingly easy! (The only downside being how many freakin’ trips to the bathroom I make every day!)

– And two days ago it was an article in the “Davidson A.M” about Mayor Karl Dean and his challenge to the city to “Walk 100 Miles With the Mayor”. Running has evolved dramatically for me since getting pregnant in December. And as a result I have really struggled with motivation. But my days are so much better when I fit in a run (even a really short one!) and so is my health, my energy, my mood and my frame of mind. I have run/walked more than 136 miles this pregnancy. This article has inspired me to commit to running/walking, over the next 15ish weeks, another 150 more.

So with all that said…what’s inspiring you lately?

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I am a dreamer. A dreamer and a thinker.

Sometimes I wonder why this is. Why, both fortunately and unfortunately, I feel incapable of shutting off my brain and spending more of my time outside of my head. (It gets so noisy in there. Stays so busy. Whew.) I think I have concluded that it is a combination of my temperament (melancholy) and my upbringing (thanks, Dad) but regardless of why, it is what it is and at least for the time being, it doesn’t seem to be changing.

A lot of the time this just means that there is never enough time to do all that I want to do and see all that I want to see. I awake most mornings, dreaming and scheming, my mile long to-do list following me around, my long term, life dreams knocking at my door.

I think I see life a little differently every day. Not because my surroundings or my circumstances are changing but because my brain rarely (if ever) shuts off and this causes a constant and continuous evaluation of life, of Truth, of the reality of my and our existence.

Exhausting? At times. A blessing? Often.

The blessings that come from this can be great. I rarely settle for average. I am often content (thank God) but very rarely complacent. I usually put a lot of thought into, and seek out a lot of counsel for the decisions that I make. My compassion towards and awareness of people is often better than doers.  (There are doers and there are thinkers and there are the rare few that manage to live right in the middle. I am married to a man who is mostly a doer but with usually just the right amount – though occasionally not quite enough – of thinker sprinkled in. Thank God for him! He so often displays a beautiful balance of the two.) My desire to help people live their best life, for their own peace and joyfulness sake and to the glory of God, burns passionately and at times inexplicably. And I am diligent and passionate about the direction that my own life, my own heart, my own spirit takes. Because of this, and by the grace of God, I have been able to walk down a road of many, many blessings.

But it causes dilemmas too, one being that I have difficulty staying focused long enough to begin a thought or a task and then follow it through all the way to the end. I have the best intentions, the best ideas, the most passion- but I have too many at once, too many to juggle, too little time and energy to devote to each one. And at times, because I do not have time to do them all, I do none. (or I start ten and spend so much time starting them that I run out of time and finish none of them) Not workable. Not beneficial to anyone.

It also causes me to sometimes hold myself to impossibly high standards, and those around me as well. The problem with this is that I forget to celebrate the milestones, the baby steps, the growth along the way and in this my heart becomes ungracious towards those (including myself) who keep missing the mark and then depressed about the state of my friends, my family, myself…or humanity in general. Not good. Not good at all.

And also, and perhaps worst of all, it occasionally causes a complete crash. (Like with a computer, when there is too much information being inputted to be processed, too many commands to try and follow that the computer just shuts down completely.) A crash causes a withdrawal from those around me, a dive into my mind and away from those that I love and all that I need to do. And it causes me to stay there, either until someone comes in and rescues me (this task often falls to my husband, he has become an expert at it), or until I become so desperate for air that I reach out and grab a float and make it back to shore, or until I remember that my God is always there for me, loving and listening and understanding, unchanging and unphased, waiting for me to return to Him, waiting for me to ask, once again, for His Spirit of patience, of wisdom, of peace, of compassion to fill my mind and my heart. His response is usually swift, His deliverance profound.

So here is my thought for today- There is only one of me, there are only twenty-four hours in a day and seven days in a week. Because of this reality, I must accept that I cannot do all that I wish I could do. (Not today at least, and maybe not until I figure out how to clone myself.) This means that my only option is to narrow my focus and simplify my choices.

But what does this look like? For today, this looks like stating my passions and my purpose, pouring myself into these things and allowing the rest to remain on my to-do list until I find the time, make the time or am given the time to get to them.

It also means clearing away the clutter- the cluttering thoughts and commitments and possessions. And eliminating the pointless, meaningless, fruitless things that this life and our culture are so quick to offer in such abundance.

And what, you might ask, are these passions? What is my purpose? What is worth my time?

Stay tuned as I work on figuring that out! 🙂

In the mean time…what are your passions? What is your purpose? What do you consider worthy of your time? Please leave me a comment! I want to hear your answers!

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