Dealing with Difficult Relatives

Your friends, family and your love must be cultivated like a garden. Time, effort, and imagination must be summoned constantly to keep any relationship flourishing and growing.
-Jim Rohn


OK, so I admit it.  I’m not normally a reader of Max Lucado’s work.  But I have had many chats lately with a lot of people feeling pain about the “hellidays,” family time, obligations and expectations, stresses and so on.  Not a lot of excitement about connecting with the famdamly in these conversations.  So, I thought I’d pass along something someone sent me about how Jesus dealt with his own family. Nothing original here…not in terms of what I’m posting, but also not in terms of the challenges we all face with the folks we want to love, or wish would love us.

It’s painful for a lot of people this time of year…it’s lonely for many and the truth is that I think most of us wish for some version of Norman Rockwell when in truth we have some version of the Manson family.  So, as we go into a time that is intended to celebrate the harvest and abundance of another year, I thought I’d post this as a reality check.  Because if the guy a lot of people believe is God in the flesh wasn’t understood or appreciated by his family, then maybe it’s a little easier for us to let go some too…

Also, if I don’t make it back here before Thanksgiving~~  May you feel the blessings and peace of a loving and abundant universe.  May you live in peace and dwell in gratitude.  May you feel the arms of a loving God in the hugs of friends and family.  May you celebrate another year of bountiful, joyful harvest in your life.  May you giggle and chuckle, rest and play, eat, drink and be merry.  May you be blessed with good friends and a spiritual family that is deep, rich and wide.  And, if you are so inclined, May you remember all for whom this time of year is painful and send them a few prayers and some of your own joy as well.  Thanks.  Peace and blessings to all…

With that, I leave you with Max Lucado…

Dealing with Difficult Relatives

by Max Lucado

Does Jesus have anything to say about dealing with difficult relatives? Is there an example of Jesus bringing peace to a painful family? Yes, there is.

His own.

It may surprise you to know that Jesus had a difficult family. If your family doesn’t appreciate you, take heart, neither did Jesus’.

“His family … went to get him because they thought he was out of his mind” (Mark 3:21).

Jesus’ siblings thought their brother was a lunatic. They weren’t proud—they were embarrassed!

It’s worth noting that he didn’t try to control his family’s behavior, nor did he let their behavior control his. He didn’t demand that they agree with him. He didn’t sulk when they insulted him. He didn’t make it his mission to try to please them.

Each of us has a fantasy that our family will be like the Waltons, an expectation that our dearest friends will be our next of kin. Jesus didn’t have that expectation. Look how he defined his family: “My true brother and sister and mother are those who do what God wants” (Mark 3:35).

When Jesus’ brothers didn’t share his convictions, he didn’t try to force them. He recognized that his spiritual family could provide what his physical family didn’t. If Jesus himself couldn’t force his family to share his convictions, what makes you think you can force yours?

Having your family’s approval is desirable but not necessary for happiness and not always possible. Jesus did not let the difficult dynamic of his family overshadow his call from God. And because he didn’t, this chapter has a happy ending.

What happened to Jesus’ family?

Mine with me a golden nugget hidden in a vein of the Book of Acts. “Then [the disciples] went back to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.… They all continued praying together with some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and Jesus’ brothers” (Acts 1:12, 14, emphasis added).

What a change! The ones who mocked him now worship him. The ones who pitied him now pray for him. What if Jesus had disowned them? Or worse still, what if he’d suffocated his family with his demand for change?

He didn’t. He instead gave them space, time, and grace. And because he did, they changed. How much did they change? One brother became an apostle (Gal. 1:19) and others became missionaries (1 Cor. 9:5).

So don’t lose heart. God still changes families.

From He Still Moves Stones
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 1999) Max Lucado


Getting There

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
~~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Hello all 🙂

I was talking with some folks over the weekend about the paths we walk…how we think the path we are on will lead to a certain place, but part of the journey is accepting when it wanders into other areas.  Staying on the path and getting there aren’t necessarily the same thing, but probably all part of the same path.  It reminded me of the wonderful poem by David Wagoner, so I thought I’d post it.  We’ve all earned this ” worn-down, hard, incredible sight  Called Here and Now…”  I hope this finds you enjoying it.  Have a great day!

Getting There

You take a final step and, look, suddenly
You’re there. You’ve arrived
At the one place all your drudgery was aimed for:
This common ground
Where you stretch out, pressing your cheek to sandstone.

What did you want
To be? You’ll remember soon. You feel like tinder
Under a burning glass,
A luminous point of change. The sky is pulsing
Against the cracked horizon,
Holding it firm till the arrival of stars
In time with your heartbeats.
Like wind etching rock, you’ve made a lasting impression
On the self you were
By having come all this way through all this welter
Under your own power,
Though your traces on a map would make an unpromising
Meandering lifeline.

What have you learned so far? You’ll find out later,
Telling it haltingly
Like a dream, that lost traveler’s dream
Under the last hill
Where through the night you’ll take your time out of mind
To unburden yourself
Of elements along elementary paths
By the break of morning.

You’ve earned this worn-down, hard, incredible sight
Called Here and Now.
Now, what you make of it means everything,
Means starting over:
The life in your hands is neither here nor there
But getting there,
So you’re standing again and breathing, beginning another
Journey without regret
Forever, being your own unpeaceable kingdom,
The end of endings.

~ David Wagoner ~

(In Broken Country)

Love is Kind

Love is patient, love is kind… It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres… Love never fails… And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

~~1 Corinthians 13

I thought a lot about those verses from 1 Corinthians the last week or so.  They are often used at weddings as the example of pure love, of how we are to interact with another, but the full verse is the example of God’s Love for us.  But I think they are also an aspiration for many of us, one that I don’t live out as well as I’d like, if I get honest.

I have been a total blogger slacker for nearly a month now and I’m not quite sure where that time went. Let’s see…In the last month I’ve been to or through six states and covered over 2000 miles in that time.  I’ve been on retreat, climbed to the tops of some ginormous hills and sat by some glorious fires.  I slept outside under the stars and thought I was going to freeze to death one of those nights.   I drove an enormous damn moving truck to Florida and then across the state again. I  saw my first live alligator and osprey.  I took some great pictures, laughed a LOT, cried some and then made some fairly major decisions about some things.  It’s been a wild ride, as life often is.  But along the way, I was thinking of those verses from Corinthians.  I was thinking about how much I’d like to live up to them and how often I don’t.  And how that’s where the grace of God always moves, because as it is expressed there, God is patient.  God is kind.  God never fails.  So that means that even when I drop the ball, God is there to catch it, to catch me.  I find this enormously comforting.

I love words, love to see what they really mean, as opposed to what I might think they mean. “Love” can be translated in so many ways, going back to the ancients…agape, eros and so on.  The word “kind” traces back to the word “kin,” meaning “family,” and traces back from there to share the root word for genus, meaning “to produce.”  All of that to say that when Love is kind, it is loaded with meaning.   Each small phrase means so much in deep context.  True Love produces  safety and comfort, the space and patience to produce fruit that can last.

Of course this got me wandering down the lane of my own convoluted thoughts and I have been thinking about Love and God and kindness and patience all week.   I’m always trying to balance my gypsy soul with the call to stay in one place…to find the balance between my inner Lover and my inner runner; to forgive the places where I am not patient nor kind with myself or others; to balance my deep, heartfelt desire to be patient and kind with the truth that I drop that ball a lot.

This has been a rough year for a lot of folks I know and they are beginning to wear quite thin in the areas of patience.  It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Miller Williams,

Have compassion for everyone you meet,
even if they don’t want it.
What appears bad manners, an ill temper or cynicism
is always a sign of things no ears have heard,
no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone.

In this deep time, I thought I’d pass along some thoughts on Love, from 1 Corinthians 13.  If you are so inclined, where you see the word Love, feel free to translate that as “God,” and let those thoughts fill and comfort you.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing.

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

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.


Peace and blessings to all.   I hope this finds all of you resting in the Big Love.

Night moon 🙂


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