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Archive for the ‘Relationship’ Category

~ Written by Viki Rife

Nine little girls sat in a circle, listening intently as their teacher explained the project. They were to make a poster showing their favorite animal. In teams of three they were to choose an animal, cut out pictures, and prepare their research. They would present their project to the group and their teacher would ask them questions.

After designating the teams, the teacher sat back to watch. One team couldn’t agree on an animal. One team found an animal they all liked, but everyone had a different idea of what pictures to use and where to put them on the poster. One team got upset with another one because someone had cut out an animal they wanted to use.

When the hour was up, the teacher called them back together. The girls were ready and eager to answer her questions.

The teacher began to ask questions:

What does this situation teach us about working together in real life?

What was it like to work with the other people on your team?

How did you help the team be effective?

Who was the most helpful person on your team?

What conflicts did you have? How did you handle them?

What could you do differently next time to handle conflicts better?

You see, the teacher’s goal wasn’t to teach them about animals. It was to teach them to work as a team, a much more essential life skill. Sometimes I wonder if God is doing the same thing with us. He wants us to be a united body, working together toward carrying out His mission. Throughout Scripture, it seems that the way we work together is often more important than the end product.

Let’s seek to approach whatever we do in Christ’s body with as much concern about how we get to the goal as we have about getting there.

(Team-building exercises such as this are a part of the curriculum for SMM (Sisters Mentoring with a Mission). For more information on how SMM helps disciple girls, click here

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~ Written by Rosa Munoz 

My life is full of new beginnings. In January 1983 I came to the USA, a new country, with great expectations of new adventures with my husband Hector Melendez. We had very little financial resources and connections. We had left our family and friends in our native land, Puerto Rico. Immigrating to a new country, culture, place, and environment was exciting but challenging.

I remembered praying and telling God, “I will look to you, follow your will with all my heart and mind. Oh! my Heavenly Father, my Lord all the days of my life.” The Bible reminds us about God’s faithfulness in Lamentations 3:21-24. His hope, faithfulness, goodness and provision have been evident throughout the 34 years of my life here in the USA.

We started out in Miami, Florida, for seven years. I experienced growth in a different aspect of my life. We then moved to Tampa in 1990. We had hoped for a baby, but it wasn’t until September 1992 that our miracle baby, Matthew, came to us. We rejoiced in God’s faithfulness in giving us a child.

A year later, my husband died in a car accident. I began a new, different life as a young widow with my little one-year-old in Tampa. Once again I waited on God, looking to Him and relying on His faithfulness, hope and provision. My focus became seeking God’s direction for taking care of my little boy and pleasing Him. I praise God for the godly women He brought to my life and the prayer partners who strengthened and helped me to grow daily in Jesus Christ. I was learning that I was not alone.

The next summer I met a widower, Jesus Munoz, with three children. He had been through similar life experiences through losing his wife in a car accident. God was preparing a new beginning for our lives. After four years of friendship and God’s perfect timing we married in July of 1998. This brought on another new beginning as we embarked on blending two families, church planting and leadership development. It has been a great gift to our lives. I have been richly blessed to meditate on my memories of new beginnings and remember that God is faithful. Our hope is in Him.

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~ Written by Cindy Bushen

I’ve been told that I’m lacking in the laughter factor; that I take life to seriously. When my daughter suggested that I knit vests for their six chickens for Christmas, I thought, “Ok, that’s funny.” I imagined my son-in-law, who finds humor in the smallest of things, would be delighted with this Christmas gift. He was.

As the evening was winding down at our Christmas gathering, with just a couple friends and family remaining, Mike brought in a chicken to model a vest. The chicken appeared to be quite pleased with her new attire as she strutted around the family room. But true to a chicken’s nature, in just a few minutes there was a mess on the floor to clean up. My daughter headed upstairs to gather some paper towels to take care of the task. Mike disrobed the chicken and perched her on his arm to return her to the coop. Just as he reached the stairs, he stopped to comment to a guest. My daughter was coming down the stairs. Her eyes widened as she proclaimed, “Mike, this chicken is going to lay an egg! Seriously, it’s laying an egg!” Her eyes were three times wider than normal. We all participated in deep hysterical laughter that occurs when the totally unexpected happens.

Psalm 37:4 is a favorite passage of mine. The verse reads, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your hear.” While it may be a stretch to apply it to my chicken story, I believe that God orchestrates turns of events into unexpected humor for our delight.

This passage states that the desires of my heart will be given if I delight in the Lord, but I am certain that God delights even more when observing us enjoy (even to the hysterical point) the opportunities for laughter He creates. Only a close daily walk with the Lord will keep our hearts light and ready to observe what has been placed in our path for the purpose of delighting us. Today, slow your pace, observe the commonplace with an eye for the unexpected. God has a delightful experience just waiting for you.

   

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~Written by Erin Shuler

There it was—the full blow! It was time to make a choice. Was I in or was I out?

For a long time I have had an idea of where God was calling me. I was so excited to follow it and see what would come of it! God placed a desire on my heart to leave the comforts of home as I know them and pursue Him through caring for and loving on orphans in Africa. After visiting Africa for the first time, I came home ready to leave everything behind and dive right into the life I felt I had been called to live. But time passed, and even though I knew my calling hadn’t changed, I felt myself wishing it would.

Driving down the road one day, I realized for the first time how alluring the idea of the American dream was to me. I didn’t realize how hard a fight it was going to be to walk away from ideas that had been engraved in me since birth. I finally realized the impact of what a decision to move across the world was going to mean. It was no longer just giving up a career I didn’t want anyway or money I could have made. I was missing out on all the big and small things that would happen in the States while I was absent. It meant possibly missing my siblings’ weddings. It meant missing the birth of future nephews and nieces. It meant losing the chance to be a part of the lives of people I suddenly realized I wanted desperately to be a part of. It meant risking relationships I already have and can’t imagine not having. It meant no house with a white picket fence, no being one of those soccer moms, no elaborate thousand-dollar weddings or expensive car. 

I realized for the first time that day I had spent my entire life filling my head with ideas that matched the American dream. When I pictured my future, I never saw myself in Africa. I saw myself in America with the “perfect home and family.” So could I still do it? Was I willing to give up what was asked of me?

The truth is the life I have is not mine. It was given to me with the intention that I use it to bring God glory. My purpose is not to live the life I dream but rather the life I have graciously been given to further the kingdom of Christ. Christ has loved me and I in return will love. I will fall in love a hundred times over with every smiling face and every child I hold and touch.

I will love well because Christ has perfectly loved me.

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~ Written by Viki Rife 

I confess, I’m baffled. A few weeks ago, on election night, several of my Christian friends posted on social media that they were only making it through thanks to a bottle of alcohol. After the results were official, I saw a number of posts from Christian friends expressing how much they were grieving, and casting blame on white evangelicals, shaming them that this “miscarriage of justice” was their fault.

I admit, I’m not satisfied with the results. Nor would I have been satisfied if Hilary had won. In my mind, this whole election season has been an example of everyone doing what is right in their own eyes. So I am not pointing fingers at one side or the other.

My personal grief has nothing to do with who won or lost. My grief is that many of my Christian friends had an opportunity to tangibly demonstrate their faith but chose to do the opposite. Does it really take whiskey rather than faith and prayer to get a Christian through election night? Has God abdicated His authority over heaven and earth to white supremacy? What are we teaching our children through these posts?

I grieve over my fellow Christians who are being divisive instead of seeking to be ministers of reconciliation. I grieve over arrogance and entitlement on both sides. Most of all, I grieve that we have publicly announced our loss of faith in the sovereignty of God.

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~ Written by Viki Rife

An incident when I was 15 years old triggered one of my deepest crises of faith. My family went to visit “Aunt Bertha,” a beloved missionary friend who had served in Argentina for many years. She was one of my earliest spiritual mentors, although she wouldn’t have called herself that. Her passion to reach people with the gospel inspired me. She truly treated me like her niece.

But now she was bedridden with arthritis, completely dependent on others to care for her. I could hardly stand to be in the room, my heart was so grieved. Why would God allow such a precious daughter of His to be sidelined way before her time? How can I trust a God who lets such things happen to His faithful ones?

I struggled with the question for decades. I couldn’t think about her without asking, “Why?” Then one day a missionary friend shared with me that as a young woman considering missionary service, she had been taken to visit Aunt Bertha. In their conversation, Aunt Bertha told her, “Don’t feel bad for me. These years of being laid up have given me a new understanding of my Savior. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!”

The “why” was too big for me to understand at the time when I first asked it. Now, with increased spiritual maturity, I can catch a glimpse of the gift God gave Aunt Bertha. When He gives us Himself, there’s nothing else we could possibly want!

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