Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

derekwebbDerek Webb is a musician who sings about issues of faith, life and love and i really enjoy his music [and his crazy personality] and recently invited a section of the public to get involved and help him create the music video for his latest song which is titled ‘I was wrong, I’m sorry & I love you’ and which you can listen to over here. 

It’s a great song. And Derek did tell me that when life calms down a little [although not sure that will ever happen for someone like him] he will write a guest blog post for me on those three phrases and I very much am looking forward to the possibility of that.

But for this week’s relationship post I wanted to simply mention them, draw your attention to them and ask you if those are phrases you use in your relationships?

Being married, that is specifically the relationship I think of first, but this can apply to any relationship you are in with people you care about.

Do you ever say “I was wrong”? This is so huge. SO SO HUGE. And so neglected. And so damaging when it is. I’m also not just talking about saying the word ‘Sorry’ because I think some people use that word as a ‘Get out of jail free’ card replacing any actual kind of acknowledgement and responsibility for the hurt they have caused. Ah, I said the word so all good. No, have you actually really repented and meant it? Are you truly sorry that you hurt this person? Are you going to choose to live life differently so you don’t end up doing it again in the same way? I just realised I dived straight into the second one but they are so completely intimately linked.

Do you acknowledge wrongdoing on your part? Do you follow that up with genuine repentance? “I’m sorry.”

And then more than just the words again, does your life after that point echo the sentiments behind the third phrase, “I love you”?

Because once more those three words can be so empty if they are not backed up by a life commitment. If you love me do it differently. Do it better. Or possibly much more importantly, if I love you then what do I need to do differently, better, so that you feel loved? So that you experience love. Not just the feeling of love, but the reality of being loved.

It is a 1 Corinthians 13 type love that says and means that ‘I was  wrong, I’m sorry and & love you.’

‘4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails.’

It’s a great song [been stuck in my head the last few days] so watch out for the video. And #cough the blog post, Derek #cough.

When the beautiful Val [tbV] and I finished our time at the Simple Way, our bossman Darin suggested this wooden artwork, that  a friend of theirs could put together for us, with some words that we had spotted on the Book of Facings, as a farewell gift, and we jumped at it.

These words are powerful and are a covenant of who we would like to be as a family and the kind of home environment we are working towards, both for ourselves and for the many people we hope to extend hospitality to who will come and stay with us, and, for a short or long time, become a part of our family.

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Some of these are definitely easier than others.

But all of them are valuable to us.

And it feels like we’re making progress on a couple of them.

This list is not all-inclusive by any means, or even close to. But it is populated with words, experiences and principles that we value and want to chase enthusiastically after.

Ah, wait, I’m doing it wrong. I said WE WANT TO CHASE ENTHUSIASTICALLY AFTER! 

[That’s better]

We didn’t come up with this list, so you are welcome to borrow them and embrace them. Even come up with some of your own.

So let’s hear from you then… What are two things you would add to this list if it was in your home?

[For last Wednesday’s Search for MEDS: Married, Engaged, Dating, Single, click here]

leftovers or your best?

‘Those who oppress the poor insult the Creator, but those who are kind to the needy honour him.’ [Proverbs 14:31]

Tweet from my good friend, Sean du Toit that I saw this morning as I logged in.

And it’s the part of Christianity many of us don’t gravitate to quite as quickly. Give me worship [me], good teaching [me], fellowship with my friends at church on Sunday [me], weekly small group meetings [me], encouraging promises from God [me] and eternal life [me, and maybe you if you live right] but turn the volume down just a little when you start focusing on the looking-after-the-poor aspect if you don’t mind.

But James, the brother of Jesus, had quite a lot to say about our treatment of the poor as well in chapter 2 of his letter:

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Even earlier on in that chapter, he encourages us not to discriminate, with a reminder that it is usually not the poor who are the ones giving the rest of us a hard time:

1 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God.Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.’

In fact he ends chapter 1 with this verse:

27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

While it doesn’t mention the poor specifically there, it is understood that orphans and widows would have been among the poorest of the poor, because not only do they not have money, but they don’t have anyone to look after them either. Worthy religion is the type that makes sure that they are well taken care of.

Which brings us back to our original Proverb and the writer is pretty specific about the implications of not treating them well. Here are two other translations of the same verse:

You insult your Maker when you exploit the powerless;
    when you’re kind to the poor, you honor God.

Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker,
    but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

I think it’s pretty clear. And I’m sure none of us are looking to insult or show contempt to our Creator and Father God. But let’s be honest for a second – those people who really needed to hear this stuff more than likely stopped reading at the first mention of the poor…

For those of you who didn’t though, there was an article that Val linked to yesterday on the Two Cents blog page that takes this question to a whole other level for those of you who employ domestic workers. Moving the discussion from the point of “good enough” to actually “good”. We would love to hear your thoughts on that one, having been reminded of these words in the Bible.

Can it really be ‘Good News’ before it is Good News for the poor as well?

[For last Thursday’s The Same Question, click here]

If you ask me, ‘Is it better to be married or single, or even maybe to be dating or engaged?’ my answer to you would be, “Yes!”

‘Sometimes I think the so-called experts actually ARE experts.’ [Jack Handey]

True story. And if you don’t know who Jack Handey is, all the worst for you. Go and ask Uncle Google. [On the other hand if you don’t know who his lesser known virtual rip-off second cousin Brett Andy is, you can rectify that by going here]

But that’s not important now. What we’re going to be looking at t0day is Relationships. As in the romantic kind as well as not being involved in the romantic kind. This is not a new post but rather a compilation of posts [and unless you have a good attention span and a large mug of coffee this may require multiple visits to take it all in, so bookmark it] but what I want to suggest strongly is this: If you are presently single, start with the married posts. And if you’re married, make sure you read the singleness stories. Often we let the label of where we’re at in that dictate the stories we decided to read, but I want to suggest to you that it will be so incredibly helpful for married people to be reminded of some of the stuff you used to face when you were dating and to hear some of the struggles and joys of those who are currently single. For the singles and datings to read and get a glimpse inside of the lives of those who are married, especially some who have been for a long time, can give you so much wisdom that will benefit you in your time of singleness or dating. We need to get a lot better at being around those who are in a different place from us in terms of this stuff [and to boldly declare with them that neither place is better than the other, just different, each with its own benefits and challenges].

There is a lot here, and you don’t need to read it all, but there is some really good stuff so give yourself a chance… and if you read something that you know will benefit someone else you know then share it or send them here or cut and paste it into your own blog and pretend it’s your own…

Hopefully there is some huge encouragement or wisdom or maybe just a different perspective that you needed to read.

And please leave your mark in the comments sections of the blogs – agree, disagree, ask questions, leave doodles… as long as you are engaging…

Singleness – A blessing for some, really painfully difficult for others – read some incredible stories that some brave friends of mine have offered to share with us. Marrieds, you really need to hear some of this stuff”

http://brettfish.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/taboo-topics-singleness-intro

I Kissed Dating [The Parts] – Including the always popular “How Far is too far?” in which the answer at the time was, “Belgium. Belgium is too far!”

http://brettfish.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/i-kissed-dating-the-parts

Marriage to the right person – You know, your ‘Neo’ person – the “One” – Do they even exist? And how do I track mine down?

http://brettfish.wordpress.com/2010/07/04/marriage-to-the-right-person-highly-recommendable

Sex in Marriage – A great read for anyone, single or married, as two [and hopefully more later] brave friends of ours share some of their very different journeys:

http://brettfish.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/taboo-topics-sex-in-marriage-intro

Ten Ways to Love – These are just some powerful ideas of how to love people in your life well and so extends past romantic relationships and is great:

http://brettfish.wordpress.com/2012/10/20/ten-ways-to-love-intro

On the Honeymoon phase [specifically for newlyweds and those heading towards being married]  – written by my wife, the Beautiful Val [tbV]:

http://valanderson.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/on-the-honeymoon-phase

How to love your woman better [this covers women loving their men better too] – Val and I looked at some different important aspects of really treating the person in your life who you love well:

http://brettfish.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/how-to-love-your-woman-better-the-parts

One way to love your husband/wife better – Another great series, this time with a bunch of my friends sharing some advice on how to love your person in a deeper, more significant way:

http://brettfish.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/one-way-to-love-your-husbandwife-better

How to save your marriage [Before you need to] – This is an excellent series where I invited a number of my friends [from different stages of marriage] to share one key aspect they felt was crucial to help build a strong marriage together:

http://brettfish.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/how-to-save-a-marriage-before-you-need-to-the-parts

Love, even [especially!] when you don’t feel like it – This was an early post on The Weekly Mash [and Peace!] and dealt with such a difficult topic – how do you continue to love your person well when you are in a time of not feeling it [because of a fight or an attitude or incident]:

https://mashandpeace.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/wednesday-wed-day-episode-3-love-when-you-dont-feel-like-it

It’s not about the nail – More discussion is probably needed with this one to get beyond just the humour of the point it is making, but I encourage you to take some time to honestly talk this through with your person – looking at the idea of a time to point things out honestly and a time to just hug [while gently tilting your head to the side so as to avoid the nail]:

https://mashandpeace.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/wednesday-wed-day-episode-11-its-not-about-the-nail

How to love well and long – Another The Weekly Mash [and Peace!] post, this one looked at four aspects hidden within a potentially cheesy saying that each contain incredible depth and are worth looking at even further:

https://mashandpeace.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/wednesday-wed-day-episode-10-slow-and-insane-and-true-and-quick

How much sex in Marriage? [Oh go and look, you know you want to!]

http://brettfish.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/how-much-sex-in-marriage

And no list of important relationshippy things would be complete without some deep words of wisdom in cartoon strip form via the crew of Pearls before Swine:

Tongue Before Swine

[For next Wednesday’s From I do to We do, click here]

[For last Wednesday’s It’s Not about the Nail, click here]

Okay so you had a great weekend but the thought of Monday does not fill you with much excitement or happiness because it’s a whole ‘nother week til the next weekened. Well here are a selection of options for you this day to attempt to put a smile on your face, have you laugh out loud or the always hoped for ‘chocolate-milk-out-your-nose’ emission [which is a LOT less gross if you have just been drinking that chocolate milk] and then the new potential reaction this week of ‘What the heck is that little girl doing with a snake around her neck and will the judges please vote quickly before she stops breathing and falls over’ [we cater for all types!]:

So do you choose:

[A] The couple who have worn identical outfits for 35 years, yes that was NOT a typo? Lest you think I am mocking this poor couple, I really am not. They completely beat me to it.

[B] Reasons not to re-enact Pinterest? – there are a bunch of these floating around – for those of you who are unware of what Pinterest is [like I try to be, except when it brings my beautiful wife much joy] it is basically a site where people show off beautiful and amazing creations and craftwork that is impossible for any human being [or maybe just these particular human beings] to copy with any reasonable amount of accuracy. Take a look at these and to challenge yourself doubly, start by taking a huge gulp of chocolate milk.

or [C] The little girl with the cute ‘awareness-of-the-need-to-preserve-animals’ poem… oh yes, and that thing! From Britain’s got talons. Um, talent.

 

[For last Monday’s Blend out Poverty once and for all, click here]

 

 

 

Mon – reasons not to re-enact pinterest – http://www.buzzfeed.com/ariellecalderon/reasons-you-should-never-reenact-pinterest-photos?utm_content=buffer6b778&utm_source=buffer&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Buffer

Nachtmusik

I just had a bit of a back and forth Twitter chat with my good friend MJ from back in South Africa and it was really great and lifted my spirits.

Although speaking of spirits, MJ was also the one who gave me the Nachtmusik bottle of chocolate liqueur [my favourite!] for my birthday back in Jan.

In terms of the Five Love Languages that Gary Chapman speaks about – namely Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time and Physical Touch – I would say that receiving gifts is up there for me. I think perhaps the idea of receiving gifts might be more exciting for me than the actual receiving of the gifts, as that hasn’t always been the most positive thing for me in life, I guess. [I tended to run with ‘the helpful socks’ crowd over the ‘tattoo of Marvin the Martian on your butt’ crowd, more often than not].

So Presents vs Presence, which one is it?

Well, having just chatted to the Majay, it is quite easily a non-contest. Presence will win out every time.

I had a bit of a rough time earlier this week and what made it so much harder was I reached out to a few of my key people [plus a general shout out to see if anyone was around] and due to a 9 hour difference in time between South Africa and Americaland [where I currently stay], everyone back home was asleep.

So it was a little bleak. For a short while at least. But then as people started waking up and receiving the messages [the first one I think I got was at 6am South Africa time from my buddy Dreadlocked Mike] they responded in message and Facebookwall comment and Skype invitation and suddenly I was reminded just how much I am loved. It was the arrival of Presence. And suddenly everything didn’t seem so bleak any more.

I feel so thoroughly privileged, almost guiltily so to have SO MANY good people in and around my life. A quality wife and just some really incredible people and so many of them. I am just so thankful and appreciate. There really is absolutely no contest at all. Thank you friends, who hopefully know who you are. And quite possibly some who don’t.

Give me Presence every time. [Maybe with a little bit of Nachtmusik thrown in for good measure]

[For  next Friday’s Well maybe I SHOULD jump off that bridge, click here]

[for last Friday’s Get Your Fax Straight, click here]

I read this quote on Twitter just now that was attributed to Arnold Nonymous and which, on another day I might disregard as completely cheesy, but today I just find completely inspirational:

“Life is too short, so kiss slowly, laugh insanely, love truly and forgive quickly”

But only if you do it. Cos as with hundreds of other “that’s amazing” quotes we can read it and nod our heads and give the “that is so completely profound” look and then return to real life and life as if nothing has changed.

So maybe take an extra minute on this one – use it as a mirror and see if there is one of the four aspects where you need to maybe up your game.

Kiss slowly: Okay, so this doesn’t necessarily apply to every single person at the moment, but maybe if you look to the heart of the phrase as ‘something that is a special thing, don’t rush it’ then it can apply to everyone. What comes to mind is exceptional photos and videos that people have of events that they had absolutely no personal investment in, because they were too busy taking pictures and videos of the thing they weren’t involved in. Put down the camera. Have an event that isn’t captured on film or for Facebook, Twitter or Instaham because you are too busy living it. Savour the meal instead of saving it. Live in the moment instead of scrap-booking it.

Laugh insanely: I don’t laugh out loud a lot, but I do still laugh and enjoy things a lot, but it is usually an inward deeper enjoyment. But then there are some people and some moments that really bring it out of me. Val is one of those people – we connect on a humour level in some specific deep ways that just bring the laughter out. It feels like a successful day when I can make her smile or laugh or snort via laughter for sure. Then there are people like  Mike Strauss, who I have spend so little time with in life, but without fail, we get together and laughter happens. My buddy Reegs is the same and usually naughty laughter in some way, but be it innuendo or movie moment or out there idea or whatever it is, some of my best laughs come with him. And there are many more people. Megan Donald and countless bad movie quotes – ‘not naughty or dodgy, just really bad as in ‘The Pacifier’ with Vin Diesel or ‘Shark Boy and Lava Lamp girl’ or even just weird or scary like the animated ‘Monster House’ or ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ – brought me much smiles and laughter [often when I inappropriately snuck movie one liners into sermons that only she and I knew about] But it is so important to find people who make you laugh [ridiculously and insanely] and then to create spaces for doing so. These people help me stay sane absolutely.

Love truly: I spend huge amounts of time in life feeling like an absolute screw up in this area of my life, when I have disappointed or upset Val yet again and am just trying to figure out how it got to that. I honestly have as a life goal to love her with everything in me and yet time and time again I have to go back to the drawing board and try figure out where I got it wrong. I feel like loving truly means being prepared to take hits periodically because it means you won’t settle for second best or let your friends getting away with not being their best and you will challenge things in love that often may not be received as having been given in love and you will face hard conversations and the need for confession and repentance and long conversations and yet it is still so completely worth it. It is the joy of seeing a friend who had completely given up on you return and initiate or allow friendship once more. It is the deep satisfaction of observing people end up making the right decisions having walked a long path with them when they were making the wrong ones. It means persevering and forgiving and showing grace and crying out to God to keep you consistent and trustworthy and giving you the strength to not give up. It means not settling for the superficial but fighting for real and deep and raw and rough and warm and long-lasting and significant. And so much more.

Forgive quickly: This is self-explanatory and walks hand in hand with loving truly. Getting past ego and rights and reputation and the need to be right and keeping records of wrongs or scorecards and so much more. But I cannot express how super important this one is. And the need to return there. Forgiveness should be a magnet to the feeling of dejavu. Haven’t I been here somewhere before? You have and you need to go back. And go back again. And one more time. Don’t tire now, forgive. And forgive. And once more. Repeat.

Because we grow old quickly, and time rushes us by, and so it may seem cheesy at first glance, but if you give it a moment and some time and a life, you will find how deeply significant and life-transforming this can be:

“Life is too short, so kiss slowly, laugh insanely, love truly and forgive quickly”

[For next Wednesday’s humourous but insightful It’s Not about the Nail, click here]

[For last Wednesday’s Absurd in the hand is worth two, click here]