Monday, 14 July 2014

The Art of Being a Good Listener.

I sat down last week ready to just sit on the couch and relax. I turned on our tv, well Netflix to be exact since that is our tv. I browsed the shows and decided to try watching one I had heard a lot about but never actually seen. Yes, I finally watched 'Say Yes to the Dress' and I actually ended up reflecting on it. It was like way back in the beginning of the show, yes I just started with season one....and I ended up drawn to this one bridal consultant who just wasn't doing a great job mainly because of her attitude towards the brides. She kept missing asking important questions about what they were looking for, or hearing what they were asking for as she wanted to dress them in something she thought would look good. 

She wasn't very good at listening. And it really struck me, because this is so something I really want to be better at, and something which I think is so important.

It's awesome that we all have space in which to share our thoughts whether its a blog, our Facebook page, twitter, instagram...there is a form of sharing our thoughts for everyone whether its words or pictures, quirky quick little one liners or a mix of all the above. I think its a great way to share our testimonies and the way the Lord is at work in our lives when we use them all wisely. When we have encouraging, edifying things to say. 

But how much do we actually listen? 

How many of us were actually taught the art of being a great listener when we were younger? Of how to make something feel important, how to show that we are being 'active' in our listening. To show love through our silent participation instead of just through our words. How many relationships would be completely changed if we were to focus on this aspect of ourselves? How much more would others feel our love? 

I am trying to sensitize myself in conversations with others to how much I am actually listening. Am I really hearing what they are saying? Or am I just trying to think of the next thing I want to tell them about? Am I really caring for them if I am dominating a conversation? How can I love them with this conversation? What words will encourage them and build them up? What do they need from this brief interaction?

'Did you know that, on average, each of us speaks about twenty-five thousand words daily?' 
~ C.J. Mahaney, Humility

I really think we can miss something in all the posts and tweets, we fail to listen sometimes. We fail to truly love others because we are so focused in what we are wanting to say, in wanting others to like what we say or agree with us and share it. There's a part of us that enjoys that recognition, in being something that is being heard. 

It just got me asking questions of myself about my own heart, about how much I am really loving others. Am I being a good listener as well or am I just focused on trying to be heard? 
I wrote a series a while back on the power of our words and I reread through those letters I wrote to myself this evening. Really wondering how much further ahead I am in two years on those desires? Wondering how much more encouraging I am in my exchanges with people or if I have lost focus. 

'Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear..'
{Ephesians 4:29}  

Those words still get me! What a challenge we have been given, sisters! 
Since having deep conversations is so close to my heart, I am sure I will continue to ponder this issue for years to come. I am still developing thoughts of being a good listener, perhaps I will be able to make them more concise later in the week and write again. 

What are your thoughts? How do you balance listening to love others and sharing encouraging thoughts? 

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Monday, 7 July 2014

Mark & Hannah

My computer has been gone for the last few weeks being repaired, I am so thankful it is now back and was here for me to edit my pictures from the wedding in Kentucky we traveled to this past weekend. Its not very often that you get to go to a wedding where you know both the bride and the groom from high school. 
I spent a lot of time in High school with this sweet bride and her sisters as we all went to youth group together, they are just the sweetest and so fun to be with. I also went to school with the groom. 

So I was so thankful we were able to make it to their wedding. Still can't believe the incredible story the Lord has written here with this couple. Never would I have imagined The Lord would bring this guy I went to high school with into her life! But The Lord has so been at work in both their lives and you can just see the evidence in their love for him, others & each other!! There is no doubt that He brought these two together & that He is going to do amazing things through their lives together. I can't wait to see what He does......

The Lord truly writes some amazing love stories that bring Him glory!! 

P.S. More pictures from the last few months coming soon, now that my computer is back! yay! 

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Monday, 30 June 2014

The Family of Jesus By Karen Kingsbury

If you've seen many of my book reviews before, you probably know by now that I am a huge Karen Kingsbury fan. I own almost all of her books and have read the entire Baxter Family Series several times. The Bailey Flannigan Series even more. So when I was given a copy of her new book to review before it was even released, I may have squealed. 

The Family of Jesus releases tomorrow on July 1st, you can purchase it through amazon for $9.78 right now on their pre-release kindle price (hardcover print $13.00).  

This book is a historical biblical fiction account of the family members of Jesus. It gives fictional (but biblically accurate) accounts from the perspectives of Joseph, Zechariah, John the Baptist, Elizabeth, James and Mary. With bible study sections for each to look further into the biblical context and implications. 

I really appreciated Karen Kingsbury's careful way of sticking to biblical truth and her explanation of how she went about her construction of the stories. Inserting biblical truth first, then researching culture to ensure accuracy then lastly filling gaps with fiction. Obviously the most accurate accounts are those found in the bible itself, but I loved seeing it come to life through stories in the Family of Jesus as Karen Kingsbury has certainly been gifted with story-telling. 

I don't think it was my most favorite book written by her, I am not a particular fan of historical fiction. But it was definitely my favorite historical fiction book by far. I also loved the bible study sections with each perspective, that was a huge highlight. I look forward to going back and spending more time in those sections. 

Hope you enjoy! Have you read anything good lately?

Disclaimer: I did receive a copy of this book in exchange for review, however all views expressed are entirely my own thoughts and opinions

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