Surviving the Storms of Life Together

These are my notes from Tim and Ruthie Hast’s presentation, “Surviving the Storms of Life Together” at the Family Matters class on November 3, 2010 at First Presbyterian Church in Edmond, Oklahoma. MY THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS ARE IN ALL CAPS.

Storms happen
– don’t be surprised
– bad stuff can be what grows us

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Types of storms
– self / other inflicted (cloud seeding)
– unavoidable (normal weather patterns)

Be prepared
– understand that you can’t anticipate everything, but don’t rule out anything
– “That could never happen to us”

we were counselors working with FEMA after the 1999 tornados in Oklahoma

Number of couples that don’t make it through the death of a child (staying together) is very high, something like 80%

We need to be prepared, assume something difficult is going to happen at some time
– now is the time to prepare
– like getting your tornado storm kit ready

Isolation in a tragedy can be even more devastating
– your community can become your storm shelter

Start now working on strengthening relationships
– with God
– with your mate
– support network

Talk about the What Ifs, like a fire escape plan

Whatever you want in life, if you have a dear cut picture of it, your mind will be moving toward it

One way weather the storms of life together is by having a clear vision of who you are as a couple
– who do we want to be
– if you get that together, that is like life insurance

Epitaph exercise is something I use with clients when they are involved with something they shouldn’t or don’t want to be
– live for your epitaph
– start with the end in mind

How do you want to be in a crisis?
– how do we want to look to others?
– people will be watching

Need to pray together when you are not under stress, because that establishes the habit and pattern of facing life’s challenges together rather than apart

Accept your own limitations (know thyself)
– recovery will take time
– it will take more than you have
– stay humble
– have a teachable spirit – it requires an open mind
— many times we “think we know,” but there are SO many things we don’t know….

There is an element of shame with some of these things that attack us
– there needs to be humility between spouses too

Have you notice how your faith is really strengthened and grown in those tough times?

In the anger stage of grief, we blame
– that requires forgiveness, of each other, of people who perpetrate a crime
– if infidelity is involved, forgiving each other, forgiving ourselves

When we forgive, we become like God, we resemble Him, he has forgiven us

Biblical examples:
– Joseph forgiving his brothers
– The Prodigal Son
– The Woman at the Well

Sometimes we oversimplify forgiveness
– we need to understand the true extend of the damage and pain that was caused
– you can’t fully forgive what you incompletely understand

Forgiving is letting go of all perceived rights to punish or avenge
– punishment and judgement are God’s domain (He can do a much better job of this than we can)

Praying for blessing for the person who caused the harm is very difficult, but it is part of forgiveness

When we do these things, the the hurt and the evil truly no longer has a claim on our lives

It takes something bigger than me to forgive such an egregious act

Letting go of the measuring stick can be a real big struggle for us

Story of couple on Oprah last week on couple who lost all three of their kids
– they immediately went into counseling
– made a pact with each other not to commit suicide, they knew the grief that was coming was terrible

When IT strikes, we must mobilize
– get the information and help you need
– learn
– ask for help
– investigate
– consult
– join

Call your church family first
– that is what we are here for, for each other

Be clear about expectations of each other and self, agree on these

Make an immediate plan and move forward
– what do we need to consider
– who is in charge
– who is responsible for what?
– who needs to be involved (or not?)
– do we need a time frame?
– what kinds of financial arrangements may need to be made?

Manage stress and take care of yourself and each other
Surround yourself with trusted listeners
You each need a confidante
Couples therapy can help

When you talk with others, start with your most vulnerable emotions first (I am frightened

Don’t wait till the thunderstorm is over to learn to dance in the rain

Trauma research shows the number one tool in recovery is talking about the event in the presence of a compassionate witness

The way you handle tragedy as a couple will either break your marriage party or deepen your relationship together
– talk with each other
– do not isolate yourselves from each other

Practice good communication
– that is the number one thing that will keep your relationship strong and tight

There is grief in every life change: we are leaving something

Grief is the process of moving from what was to what is
– moving from fantasy to reality

Five steps of grief
1 denial
2 anger
3 depression
4 bargaining
5 acceptance

– moving from denial to acceptance
– you are accepting what is, or truth
– denial is the lie

Moving from the lie to the truth
– that is just like our walk with Christ

We all experience the grief process differently
– we must give our mate space to grieve on their own schedule

Never forgive the objective, to get through the storm as a unit, intact, and even stronger than before….
– washed by the rain, and still standing

We want to stay married, but stay married better

People who had blueprints for their house are able to rebuild faster after a tornado

This is like the vision and identity that we have for our marriage and lives together

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Discussing Matthew 7:21-23

These were our discussion questions about Matthew 7:21-23 this morning in my men’s group. “What Does It Take to Enter the Kingdom of Heaven?”

1) Jesus envisions conversations that will take place “on that day.” What is the day about which Jesus is speaking?

2) What role does Jesus envision for himself “on that day?” How does that affect your view of and relationship with him?

3) What sums up “the will of my Father in heaven” which one must do in order to enter heaven? How do you make sense of the messages that we are saved by the work of Christ on our behalf and that we are saved by doing the will of the Father in heaven? Are these not contradictory statements?

4) To prophesy, cast out demons, and do many mighty works in Jesus’ name seems like a strong, spiritual pedigree. Why would Jesus reject anyone who has done these kinds of works in his name?

5) What then do you think Jesus means by his response to such people, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of iniquity…”?

6) What do you anticipate you will say “on that day” when you stand before Jesus?

A Story of Faith from a World Class Rodeo Clown: Larry Minchey

The digital story “Minchey” by Shelly Gwyn Moffatt, created this week at our Celebrate Oklahoma Voices professional development workshop in Hugo, Oklahoma, tells the life story of rodeo clown Larry Minchey in his own words as he eventually came to know Christ as his personal savior and became a cowboy preacher.

Find more videos like this on Celebrate Oklahoma Voices!

This video was not solicited by our workshop organizers to be a “Story of Faith” but is the story Shelly chose to chase and share during our workshop. This coming school year, I hope to formally launch the “Stories of Faith” project on its own website. This is a great example of Christian Digital Storytelling, which has been on my heart to promote for several years.

Great work Shelly– and many thanks to Larry for sharing his testimony. His ongoing ministry to reach out to “the lost” is inspiring.

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Choosing Legalism over Grace

Our church is currently in the midst of a series called “Real Life”. The focus is on daily living, what it looks like to be a Christian.  It’s really a study on the book of Galatians. I bookmarked a couple of verses today from the Message:

Galatians 2:20-21

My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.

Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.

The last line struck me.  Having lived the majority of my 45 years as a Christian, I still struggle with that. The world around me reminds me every day that it does not operate under grace. It operates under a belief that if you work hard, good things happen and you get exactly what you deserve.  This is likely why we fall into the trap of legalism.  Our Pastor asked, “Why are we so quick to succumb to legalism and yet so easily give up on grace?’  I ask myself that alot.

I also bookmarked Galatians 3:5

Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you?

These are questions I need to spend some time pondering.

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