4 Relationships God Wants Us to Cultivate: Part One

Relationships are hard work. I don’t know about you, but there are times when I get so tired, all I want to do is squirrel away by myself and ignore what should be done. However, relationships can’t be ignored or neglected. And shouldn’t be. Today–and tomorrow, a treat!–Tanya Eavenson talks about the four relationships we must invest in. And don’t forget to come back next week when I’ll share the rest of my thoughts on the S word and what biblical submission looks like in a modern day marriage.

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4 Relationships God Wants Us to Cultivate: Part One
By Tanya Eavenson

With spring fast approaching, many people are preparing for warmer days. Spring break. A quick getaway. Perhaps you’ve starting thinking about what your family will wear on Easter morning. Maybe your thoughts have turned to gardening: the type of plants to purchase, the items needed to start the project, or the weekends to complete the task. In these instances, how much time do you think it will take to cultivate a plan, prepare to execute it, and then get it done? Days? Weeks?

In the same way, how much time do we spend planning, preparing and cultivating our relationships? Here are four relationships I believe God desires us to grow, care for, and nurture for our benefit and His glory.

1) Cultivate your relationship with Him.

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The first and most important relationship you have in this life is your relationship with Christ. But cultivating a relationship with the Lord in our own strength is impossible. How many times have we forgotten to read scripture or pray? If you’re anything like me, it’s tough raising children, being a helpmate, working outside of the home, etc. These aren’t negative things; on the contrary, family and children are a blessing from the Lord. However, we can’t use people or things around us as an excuse. We have to make time for the Lord.

You might be saying, “Yes, I want to have a deeper relationship with the Lord, or I used to have that closeness being in His word, but how can I get that back?” Here are several practical ways to cultivate your relationship with the Lord.

  • Prayer is one of the most important aspects of a Christian’s life, affecting his or her relationship with the Lord. Scripture says that even Jesus withdrew to quiet places, alone, and prayed. So if Jesus needed to spend time talking with His Father, how much more do we need to be before Him ourselves?
  • Remove idols from your life. There’s a misconception of what the word ‘idol’ means. Years ago, an idol was a wooden, metal, or gold statue built in the image of a god. People worshiped this idol. Today this meaning still remains, but it also includes anything that takes priority over the Lord’s place in your heart and life. Is there anything in your life that you’ve put before God?
  • Read the Bible. Designate a time during the day to set aside to read God’s love letter to you. Whether it’s morning, afternoon, or evening, find a time that works best with your schedule.
  • Memorize Scripture. The Bible says the word of God is a lamp that lights your path, showing you direction when you’re lost or uncertain. It’s also called a sword: a weapon for protection against the enemy. Memorizing scripture is exactly that: protection for your mind and strength to carry on in a world that tries to rob, conquer, and destroy our joy.

2) Cultivate your relationship with your spouse.

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Have you ever considered that marriage was created by God, not only for the sake of two people coming together as Adam and Eve had done, but to bring glory to Himself? We are to show our spouse the same sacrificial love that Christ showed for us, not only giving up ourselves for another, but being an example for others so when they see us, they too will be witnesses of God’s love. Here are a few practical ways to strengthen or to begin re-cultivating your relationship with your spouse, and in the process bring glory to God.

  • Pray: for your spouse. For your marriage. For the Lord to protect your marriage.
  • Be intentional. Did you know the word “love” is a verb: an action word? Put your love into action. Spend quality time together. Go on a date. Go for a drive. Just go—do something together.
  • Offer forgiveness. Ephesians 1:7 says, “We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” We have forgiveness through Christ for the countless things we’ve done, so how can we not extend that same forgiveness to our spouses? When we offer our forgiveness, we are glorifying God in our actions, honoring God and our marriage, and possibly being a witness to others around us.

Please join me back here tomorrow as I write about the other two relationships God wants us to cultivate.

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Restored_1400x2100 (1)Dr. Steven Moore is known nationally for saving lives. If only he could save his own. Unable to deal with his cancer prognosis, he retreats to a happier time in his past—to the woman who once stole his heart.

Four years after the death of her beloved husband, bookstore owner Elizabeth Roberts still struggles to sustain her faith and joy in the Lord as she raises her two sons. She strives to find a way through her family’s grief, never suspecting a man from her past might offer hope for her future.

But how can there be a future when he’s only come to kiss her and says good-bye?

Purchase here:
Amazon
iTunes
Barnes & Noble

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DSC_0729bTanya Eavenson enjoys spending time with her husband, and their three children. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee, eating chocolate, and reading a good book. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Word Weavers International, and writes for Christ to the World Ministries. You can find her at her website http://www.tanyaeavenson.com/ on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google, or on Amazon.

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For those who enjoy following me all over cyberspace… Here’s where I’ve been this past week:

Tuesday, my article on training our children to stand strong against spiritual warfare went live on Crosswalk.com. You can read that HERE.

Read about my heart behind my latest review on my publisher’s website HERE.

Tuesday I shared a fun book-lovers romance story on Faith, Friends, and Chocolate. Read that HERE.

Wednesday I shared one of my favorite culinary inventions on Country at Heart. Read that HERE.

Join me on Shannon Taylor Vannatter’s Inkslinger blog as I share how my wedding absolutely didn’t go as planned. I’m back on her blog today to share an excerpt from Breaking Free. Visit me HERE.

I stopped by Trisha Perry’s blog to chat about my novel, my favorite city, and a novel I read and loved and think you will to. Read more HERE.

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Let’s talk about this:
When you think about your relationship with God, how do you work on strengthening and growing it? How do you work on your relationship with your spouse (if you’re married)  or other significant people in your life? Share your thoughts in the comments below, because we can all learn from one another!

Living With Focus

Photo by jesadaphorn taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by jesadaphorn taken from freedigitalphotos.net

There’s nothing more frustrating than looking back on a busy, tiring day and realizing you’ve accomplished nothing. Or at least, nothing of value. Or to embark on a task, perhaps seven or eight times in a day, only to be distracted, seven or eight times.

We all have those days, right? Times when our lack of focus, lack of prioritizing, eats up our productivity. But we mustn’t let those times of distraction and futility, of wasted effort, become a norm.

We all have countless opportunities set before us each day, sometimes even great opportunities, eternally impacting opportunities, but that doesn’t mean each one is for us. God has carved out a unique path for each one of us. He’s created us, gifted us, molded and equipped us, to fill a very specific role.

I love how Ephesians 2:10 puts it: “For you are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus to do the good things He planned for us long ago” (NLT).

We are God’s masterpiece! That word grabs me every time. As does the ending of the verse, “He planned for us long ago.”

It reminds me that God has a plan, a very good and very specific plan, for my life. My role is to discover that plan and follow it ps37v23to24jpgwith everything within me, resisting the constant pull to be everything to everyone. Rather, I am to give everything–my time, energy, thoughts, and actions–to the Son.

Proverbs 4:25-27 says “Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on that safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil” (NLT).

This verse speaks of determined focus, of perseverance, of intentionality. Of zeroing in on whatever it is Christ is calling me to do each day. Which implies taking the time to discover what He’s calling me to do. Which in turn implies taking the time to prayerfully read His Word each morning.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! What about you? What is God calling you to do today? Raise your children or grandchildren to love and honor Christ? Reveal Christ’s love and grace in your work place? Serve in a church ministry with excellence? Are you doing that with focus, perseverance, and intentionality? Are you giving your whole self to that task, or have you allowed nonessentials to leave you divided? What time-sappers have you allowed in your day that hinder your effectiveness? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

We can’t do it all. Each day, we’re going to have to let something go. Let’s let those things go intentionally so that we can “fix our eyes on what lies before us.”

For all the mommas of little ones out there, my friend (and the marketing manager of New Hope Publishers) has a series I know you’ll find encouraging and inspiring. You can read about that here.

You might also be interested in:

Are the Little Things Really Little? 

In the Little Things

Called and Accountable by Henry T. Blackaby and Norman C. Blackaby

Before I go, I wanted to announce the winners of last week’s give away! Maryann, congrats! You won a copy of the Shepherd’s Song! I’ll be contacting you shortly to chat about the best way to get that novel to you. And, there’s still time to enter the drawing to receive a copy of Kelly O’Dell Stanley’s book Praying Upside Down. You can do so here.

Before I go, I wanted to invite you listen to a radio interview I did Tuesday. You can do so here:

I also encourage you to sign up for my (really, our, as I and the Faith, Friends, and Chocolate gals put it out together) free quarterly newsletter, which is packed with great stuff–a serial story, short stories, recipes, devotions, and more!


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Parents, Are You Making Your Influence Count?

Throw back Thursday--I took this picture of our princess on a special family day. Memories matter, and time passes quickly. Make it count.

Throw back Thursday–I took this picture of our princess on a special family day. Memories matter, and time passes quickly. Make it count.

Oh, my, does today’s post hit me smack in my momma-heart. With our princess so near launch age, everything in our home has become more… intentional. Because we know our time is short, and we want every moment to count. It’s like we’re trying to cram all these memories into her already exploding brain. I’m not sure if these memories are for her or us. 😉 I suspect both.

I often say, parenting is the hardest, most important, most rewarding, heart-wrenching and heart-lifting job a person can have. And there aren’t any do-overs.

Okay, so that thought sent a jolt of adrenaline shooting through my gut. Let’s just say, there are numerous moments I’d like to do-over. But praise God He’s in the restoring, healing, transforming business and can turn my biggest parenting mistake into something beautiful. (If anything, I’ve helped our daughter see plenty of things she doesn’t want to do when she becomes a parent. ha!)

Maria headshot LLBDToday my sweet friend and fellow Living by Grace hostess, Maria Morgan, shares her thoughts on influential parenting. If you haven’t read her book to your kiddos yes, you absolutely must. I’ve heard it’s becoming many children’s favorite.

As an added bonus, she’s giving away a copy (I believe e-version) of her children’s book, Louie’s Big Day! The winner will be chosen randomly from the comments left on today’s post. 

Making Your Influence Count

By

Maria I. Morgan

What kind of influence are you having on your kids? Our only child will be getting married in less than a month, and over the course of her engagement I’ve had ample time to reflect on that very question.

Parenting isn’t for the faint of heart. It comes with both wonderful experiences and some difficult challenges. In spite of all of our parenting blunders, I’m confident the Lord will continue to work in our daughter’s life. God’s Word is reassuring:

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

No guarantees

To the best of our ability we’ve pointed our girl to the Savior and tried to live out what God’s Word teaches. I’m so thankful for His grace where we’ve fallen short.

As parents, we have a big responsibility to teach and counsel our kids based on the truths of the Bible. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for families that began with a godly heritage to walk away from the Lord a generation or two later.

A sad commentary

Remember Ahaziah? His grandfather was Jehoshaphat. God’s Word describes Jehoshaphat as a man who,

“…sought to the Lord God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel.” 2 Chronicles 17:4

But Ahaziah’s father, Jehoram, decided to follow a different path. He married Athaliah, a woman who worshipped idols, and he chose to follow in the footsteps of the previous kings of Israel. In the space of one generation, the true God had been denied.

The advice of a mother

By the time Ahaziah began ruling Israel after his father died, he was already entrenched in evil practices. His mother had left a lasting impression on him:

“…for his mother was his counselor to do wickedly. Wherefore he did evil in the sight of the Lord like the house of Ahab: for they were his counselors after the death of his father to his destruction.” 2 Chronicles 22:3b-4

I’m thankful for the examples of others who chose to follow God in spite of parents who were unbelievers. Godly parenting doesn’t guarantee godly children. Each person must decide who to follow: God or Satan.

This doesn’t negate our parental responsibility to teach our children the truth of God’s Word. Each day as we submit to the Lord and clothe ourselves with His armor, He will equip us with the ability to do so.

Your turn

Are you leaning on the Lord as you parent your children? What step will you take today to teach your kids God’s truth?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for working in my life and the lives of my kids even when I fail. I know I’m not 100% responsible for how my children turn out, because each of them was created with a free will. But I also know I am responsible for teaching them Ad for December issue Book Fun Magazine-page-001Your truth. Help me to do so today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

*It’s so important to teach our kids godly truths. And just in time for Christmas, I’ve released a children’s book that can serve as a tool to help accomplish that goal. Louie’s BIG day! features timeless characters who learn about purpose and friendship. The book concludes with questions to stimulate conversation and help re-emphasize biblical concepts. It’s fun for the whole family! Available in print and Kindle editions on Amazon.

Maria Morgan is an inspirational writer and speaker who has a passion for sharing God’s love and truth with others. Visit her online at MariaMorgan.com

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Let’s talk about this! Life can get so busy, and there are so many issues we as parents or grandparents must deal with *now*. And yet, I’ve found I can get so busy chasing fires, it’s easy to lose sight of my longterm plan. How am I preparing our princess for adulthood? Am I pointing her to Scripture? In our discussions, am I speaking love, grace, and truth?

livingbygracepic.jpI encourage you to ask yourself those same questions. Are you parenting with intentionality? What can you do, starting today, to build spiritual truths into your children? Make a realistic and attainable plan, then start today. I encourage you to share your thoughts and ideas with us. Then we can all learn from one another. What makes intentional parenting challenging for you? What have you found to work? How do you free up time in your crazy-busy week to train up your children and build lasting and meaningful memories? Share your thoughts here or on Facebook at Living by Grace.

 

Intentional Growth

Today, Catrina Bradley challenges us to be intentional in our spiritual growth. What can you do today to draw closer to Christ, to grow more Christ-like, and to spread His fame?

NAIL CLIPPINGS AND HAIR TRIMMINGS: Are You Growing? by Catrina Bradley

My poor little dog Lady’s toenails are too long. We’ve been meaning to take her to the VetExpress for weeks, but didn’t seem to get around to it with the Christmas crush. She could use a good trimming, too; she’s getting a bit shaggy.

Like me, her nails need constant clipping and her hair grows out of its styled cut because…well, because we are living organisms, and living things are constantly in a state of change and growth.

If our nails stop growing, that means our bodies are dead.

To be alive means to grow.

If you aren’t growing in Christ, are you alive in Him?

My doggy’s toenails made me think again about Sunday’s thought-provoking sermon. Our guest preacher at FBC this past Sunday was outstanding. He spoke to us about the importance of a Christian growing to maturity.

In closing he asked, “Are you growing in grace and in knowledge? Are you growing spiritually?”

How do you know if you are growing or stagnant?

He gave us 10 questions to think about, to help us see if we growing.

Are You Growing Spiritually?
1. Are you becoming more confident in your salvation, not always questioning whether your salvation took or if you are really saved?
2. Do you feel more satisfied, content, and fulfilled in Christ?
3. Are you becoming increasingly aware of your sinfulness and weaknesses?
4. Are you finding new guidance in familiar scriptures?
5. When at church, you don’t feel the need to keep God on the clock?
6. Are you learning to see trials and temptations more as opportunities for your growth and for God’s glory?
7. Is your perspective on life becoming less temporal and more eternal?
8. Are you eager to share with others what Christ is doing in your life?
9. Are you praying for opportunities to minister to those around you that don’t know Christ?
10. Does the way you spend your money and the way you spend your time indicate Christ’s importance and priority in your life?

My automatic and immediate answer to all of the above was “YES”, but I’m convicted I need to take an honest assessment of my situation. I need spend a little time thinking about each question, meditating on the “YES” areas of my life, and praying to uncover the “not quite” places I’ve secreted away and haven’t fully surrendered.

How about you? Are you growing?

Catrina Bradley grew in Iowa but now makes her home in Georgia where she serves her church as Admin & Ministry Assistant. She has been blissfully married for over 20 years and has a beautiful, talented daughter and two precious puppies. Her Christian poetry, essays, fiction, and devotions have been published in numerous on-line and print venues. She posts quasi-regularly at her blog Scattered Seeds and monthly at Jewels of Encouragement.

Visit her online at Scattered Seeds.