Written by Rachel Quigley
God made us out of relationship for relationship. In our search for wholeness, we can’t live whole alone. Relationships are essential for wholeness. In the beginning, Adam had a relationship with God and Adam had purpose. Yet God said that’s not enough. Adam needed another to journey with him.
We need others in our lives. We were created to need others in our lives and for healthy relationship. We are needy individuals, and sometimes we don’t like to admit that simple truth.
ingredients. I’d be out of sugar, or vanilla, or one egg short. Mom would say, Run next door to Mrs. Rodger’s house and ask to borrow what you need. When I was all done baking, Mom would again say, "Take some cookies over to Mrs. Rodgers and share with her since she shared with you." With my cookies on a pretty plate, I would head over to Mrs. Rodgers. This was part of the process and a true gift of relationship. I loved baking, and Mrs. Rodgers enjoyed the company of the little girl next door.
Nowadays, if we bake and find ourselves short an egg, sugar, or flour, we don’t typically go next door but instead we Instacart, run to the store, or text someone to stop by the store on their way home. We’ve lost that interdependent community of needing and connecting with those near us --- our community.
God created us for relationships but in today’s world we find ourselves alone and not connected in healthy, life-giving community circles and friendships.
Author Jennie Allen shares some great ideas and insights in building community in her book, Find Your People. Below are some ideas she shares:
Proximity – Who is around you?
Transparency – Have an open door
Everyone doesn’t need to know our business and we don’t need to share everything however we can practice healthy levels of transparency and live in authentic relationship with others.
Accountability – Iron Sharpens Iron
Shared Purpose—Connecting together creates bonds
Consistency– Choose to stay when days are difficult
Keep short accounts.
Be quick to apologize.
Aim to be a peacemaker.
Consistency is clocking hours together over years. Those kinds of relationships and communities bring great rewards. Those relationships, though difficult at times, produce life giving, life journeying friends and community.
Written by Rachel Quigley
This perfect mindset can mess us up. We’re often hindered by believing we must be perfect or at least portray perfection. Yet Paul writes in Romans 3:23 “All have sinned and fallen short.” We all miss the mark. So, if God knows we are not perfect and in our human state we are not able to obtain perfection what does Jesus mean when He says, “Be perfect.”
The translation of the word perfect is similar to other translated words where we don’t quite have an adequate English word to represent what the Greek word means. It’s like the word love. We love our families and we love cheeseburgers yet those love definitions are not equally weighted.
In our English language we understand perfect as a performance-based target where we aim, shoot, and hit the bullseye every time. Yet the word perfect (Greek translation = Teleios) in this verse means completion, wholeness, maturity.
The call to perfection (teleios) in this verse is the same call to holiness we see throughout the Old and New Testament. It’s not calling us to moral perfection but instead wholehearted orientation toward God. Teleios is an intentional, purposeful wholeness of a person.
Instead of looking at perfection as unattainable, a better reframing of perfection in this context would be wholeness, completeness, whole living, flourishing growth.
Whole health is caring for ourselves well. God cares about our whole being. He is Spirit, yet He became flesh to dwell among us (John 1:14). Jesus, who is fully God and fully man, took on the vulnerability and beauty of being human. He enjoyed eating meals and napped when He was tired. He wept with His close friends and He stood up to injustice.
God’s work of redemption includes the restoration of our body, mind, and soul. He cares for our whole being. (spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally, relationally) Wholeness in these areas brings a sense of balance and wholeness in our living.
Many of us struggle in balancing these areas. We find when we are lacking in one area, it impacts other areas of living. For example, when physically tired, our emotions are edgy and mental capacities can wane. These areas impact each other.
Keeping balance in our schedules, staying rested, making healthy decisions, and other disciplines will help tremendously. But what else can keep us from flourishing in our lives?
One is our thoughts and patterns. Proverbs 23:7 says, As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Our thoughts circle around to our actions or inactions and those decisions give us the results of our life. Our thoughts become things. Our thoughts create feelings, and our feelings can drive our actions or inactions. For example,
How can we change our thought patterns?
1. Recognize our faulty thinking - We can self-sabotage our own growth by letting our thoughts and fears of failure do us in before anyone else has a chance to.
2. Be kinder to ourselves and others in our thought life –
Changing our thought practices will help us see and notice our thought patterns. Reigning in our thoughts and making them obedient to Christ changes things at the root level.
~ Philippians 4:8, Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable… if anything is excellent or praiseworthy… think on these things.
~ Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is --- His good, pleasing, and perfect will.
~ 2 Corinthians 10:5 We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
3. Tune in, Listen, and Obey the Holy Spirit’s leading. – We achieve a greater sense of wholeness in our lives when we lean into God’s idea of wholeness. This leads to flourishing growth and goodness in our lives.
The pressure for posting perfection is exhausting and yields fleeting results. But living in the fullness of whole living, completeness, and moving towards maturity brings a flourishing that yields joy, satisfaction, purpose, and glory to the Father who brings good to our lives. And that is worth posting about!
I love to see women of faith collaborating to further God’s Kingdom. Our very own Rhonda P. Fraser brought together various ministry women and complied their faith stories to encourage others to believe God for more. Following is an excerpt from their book, Resilient Faith.
We see it in the story of Joseph in the Bible.
I will not make light of the pain people go through. Indeed, God knows every pain we feel. He does not turn a blind eye when we go through hurts and are treated unfairly. Hebrews 4:15 explains how He feels and understands our pain.
We read in Acts 9, where light from heaven struck down Saul on the road to Damascus. He was on his way to harm God’s people. God accosted Him with a piercing question, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting ME?” It is important to note He didn’t say, why are you persecuting my children – He made it clear He (GOD) was the One being hurt. This shows how He is in touch with our suffering. He will take care of the situation. In Saul’s case, he was converted from his life of wrongdoing to becoming the Apostle Paul, author of many books in the New Testament. God came down, handled the situation and evil was transformed for good.
We get to see the supernatural at work when we are faithful in being the hands, feet, or voice of Jesus in our line of work. God will not call us to do His work, then abandon us when the pressure hits. He fights for us all the way – in our personal lives, professional lives, and in ministry.
The love of God in our lives is threatened when we hold onto offenses, and the adversary knows those areas of vulnerability. That is why we need to stay vigilant against hoarding hurts that can lead to bitterness. We are particularly warned of this danger in Hebrews 12:15. Bitterness grows into a stubborn tree that can destroy us and others; blocking our blessing. Blatant offenses are possibly easier to recognize and address, but we have to be attentive to the subtle ones and submit those to the Lord.
I remember my own subtle offense. At the time, I disliked people pointing out that I had no children. Although, in their defense, most of them were probably unaware of the struggles I faced, it was still hurtful. I particularly remember an incident when a church usher greeted me one Mother’s Day. “Sorry Sis, these corsages are only for mothers, not wives without children.” It was a straightforward statement, yet another hit in a vulnerable spot for me. We had been married for over six years and still no children only pangs of miscarriage, and the enemy was trying to capitalize on my vulnerability. Whether this woman intended to offend me or not, was not the issue. Whether it is deemed petty or not, was not the issue. Everyone’s journey is different. However, we cannot continue to make that an excuse to remain stuck in defeat, wallow in distress, and further damage relationships.
The real issue is holding ourselves accountable for our actions. We cannot control the behavior of others or blame others for our reactions. The responsibility is ours to own. Romans 14:12 says “each of us shall give an account of himself to God.” (NKJV)
Therefore, our primary focus has to be inward. If we make self-reflection and self-improvement a priority, there would certainly be less conflict. The enemy enjoys us being over-occupied with the wrongdoings of others because it gives us less time to develop ourselves; it depresses us, stagnates us, and destroys our connections.
Our movement of faith requires us to be intentional in rising above our doubts and hurts. We need to surrender it all to God, knowing whatever valley is destined for our journey God will give us the grace to go through it, as He did for Job. We also, should not be comfortable in situations where He only intends for us to pass through. We need to recognize when that season is over, let it go, and allow God’s love, forgiveness, and plan prevail.
It is true some hurts take longer to overcome, yet God is faithful to bring purpose out of our pain if we dare to believe and relinquish it to Him.
Healing often follows our surrender to His plan. I have seen this happen many times in my life. My response to that usher’s comment was to refocus and press through in worship and praise to God and enjoy the church service. That decision led to a remarkable encounter with the Lord. A breakthrough happened that day because approximately NINE MONTHS after that incident, I was holding my miracle – my firstborn son, – the very thing experts said would not happen. (I share more of this story in our book: Empowered to Overcome Tough Seasons of Life.
When we hold onto a resilient faith in God, we will see Him do amazing things in and through our lives.
To say I was nervous is an understatement. Could we really be boarding a plane for the windy city?
So much had happened within the last few months. We found out our mother had suffered a stroke in the Fall and had been hospitalized for a few weeks. She was learning to walk again, was frail and her speech was still a little slurred. Our brother, Tony, had kept us informed and we were so grateful. At this point, she still did not know that Tony (my half-brother), Kelly (my brother), and myself had met for the first time ever in August 2021. Mom had not only suffered a stroke but was entering her fifth year with dementia. It was something she had kept to herself until her health issues brought it all to light. Her short-term memory was struggling.
As siblings we began talking about getting together again. Tony wanted us to visit his home in Chicago, meet his family and stay with them. Tony spoke with Mom’s husband and discovered he was unaware of my brother, Kelly and I, as well. We were a shock to him. He is a sweet man who loves his wife dearly. He was concerned for what this might do to her. It wasn’t looking good for us to meet.
My husband, Warren, and I had air credit miles, and our tickets were ready. So were my brother, Kelly, and his wife. We had poured over old photos—- some of us as babies, and the memories were filling us with excitement and nervousness.
Just 10 days before our visit, Tony bravely told Mom he knew about us. I couldn’t believe it! He could tell she still remembered. Mom was upset and clammed right up. It was such a long time ago and she refused to talk about it. Tony was devastated and wondered if we were still coming.
After crying together and reassuring him, we continued with our plans.
It’s one thing to meet in a neutral space and spend time together but to stay right at our newfound brother’s home made me incredibly nervous. He and his wife went to a lot of work to make us feel right at home. We had a wonderful couple of days meeting our nephew and going out to eat and, of course, touring a bit of the city. Our nervousness evaporated as we picked up right where we left off in August of 2021. There was no mistaking us as siblings and now family.
Mom and her husband lived only two miles from Tony. Unknown to us, a few pictures were being sent to them from Tony’s wife; followed by a few questions. We were only staying for a four-day weekend trip. But on Sunday, as we were relaxing and talking about our plans for the day, we got word Mom had changed her mind! We quickly piled into the van and rushed over to her house! Stunned silence and suspense hung in the air as we made that short trip.
As we pulled into the driveway, Mom and her sweet hubby, waited at the front doorway. As we entered their home, it felt surreal. Mom reached up to me and whispered, “My sweet Tammy, my baby.” She began to cry. Mom was a perfect fit in my arms.
Next, she greeted my brother, Kelly. Reaching up and patting his cheek, he totally lost it. He told us later he had dreamt of her doing that very thing.
I looked around. All our spouses were crying and taking pictures. Mom kept saying, “Ron, look at my babies; they are my babies.” She became so emotional she could only cry among all the kisses. There was such a sweet spirit of love, grace and redemption that filled the room and our hearts.
It was a short visit but one of three we had before heading back to NY. As we got back in the van, Tony lost it and so did we. If he hadn’t been persistent and willing to bring a long-time family secret to light, this meeting wouldn’t have happened. I truly believe God orchestrated this whole thing!
Decisions were made by adults who loved us, and those decisions not only affected us as children but continue to have impact on us as adults, as spouses, and now as parents ourselves.
From nightmares as a child, to being an overachiever as a teen to being driven to have value and worth as an adult.
As I child I didn’t realize those effects but looking back I now see that when our family was torn apart, I went through the 5 stages of grief. Denial (trying to make sense of a senseless situation), anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance.
I had thought of suicide. I had chip on my shoulder, and I had a need to prove myself. At 16 I gave my heart to Jesus and began a relationship with Him. That decision was life changing and the best decision I ever made. God is so good and faithful.
Through the chapters of my life, from getting married, becoming a mom, and growing in my faith, He has been there. God has been patiently and lovingly peeling back the layers of my coping survivor skills and exchanging lies for the truth of His Word. My choices have also affected those I love and my relationships. Like my Mom, I had buried some deep things God graciously brought into the light of HIS love.
After that weekend with my Mom, we promised to call every week. I wasn’t sure how things would go. That first phone call was nerve racking! What do we talk about? What if she doesn’t remember our visit or me?
I dialed her number, her hubby answered, and he switched it to a video call. As soon as she saw my face, she broke into a pure beautiful smile and called me by my name! My heart overflowed. The Holy Spirit whispered; I am the God who sees you.
Those weekly calls aren't long talks and honestly every week it’s about the same. But every week she knows who I am and calls me by name! I can’t even express how much that means.
It wasn’t long before her husband started talking about coming to visit us here before her dementia progresses and traveling would be out of the question. I was cautious yet excited.
As July came, we made plans for their visit at the end of August. Oh, did I have a honey do list! I wanted everything to be perfect. After all, it isn’t every day that my mom would visit, along with meeting our children and grandchildren for the very first time!
One sunny Saturday leading up to her visit I ended up spraining my ankle and heel. I had to stay off my feet, other than working, for 8 weeks. My cleaning and preparation list went out the window. My usual way of dealing with stress, aka cleaning & keeping busy, wasn’t an option. Instead of frenzy, it became a time of rest —reflecting and allowing God to gently open my heart while I was feeling vulnerable. Mom and her husband weren’t coming to see our home or how perfect everything appeared. They were coming to see us!
Although my siblings and I haven’t been together since March, we continue to stay in contact and have powerful discussions as we navigate this new season in our lives. My brother, Kelly, and I talk about our childhood. This has opened a dialog to talk about our past loss and grief. For Tony, this is just the beginning of him processing his loss of whatever he never really knew.
During this process, I have thought a lot about Joseph from the book of Genesis and how his grief process might have looked. He had been betrayed and abandoned. He was cut off from his brothers and his father and didn’t even know if his father was still living. With each situation he found himself, God never left him. My thoughts swirl around with questions: How did he get through those stages? What was happening with his brothers and his father? How had they processed the events, lies and loss?
Then all those years later they were reunited. They had all changed; they weren’t the same people. Yet God was!! He is not a man that he should lie! He is faithful and true! (Numbers 23:19) And He is in the business of repairing & reconciling!
The Sunday of their visit all our girls and their families came to meet Mom. I had pictured in my mind all of us together: 4 daughters, grandchildren, Mom and myself. And it happened!
After a few short days, they headed home. Their next trip will be at the end of this month to visit my brother Kelly and meet his family. In the short time from March until now Kelly has let go of bitterness and unforgiveness in several memories of our childhood. He is at a place where he can accept Mom where she is.
My mom and I have gotten into a comfortable routine of video chatting every week. Every time she has this moment of recognition, smiles and calls me by name. It is a precious gift that I will hold near to my heart for the rest of my life. My husband and I marvel every time. There aren’t any words to express what we see in her face except pure joy, pure love, and a sense of being set free. Yes, there has been grief and brokenness yet there is also beauty and inexpressible joy. I love Nehemiah 8:10 - The JOY of the Lord is your strength! Joy, a deeply rooted expression of God’s goodness concerning all of us then, now and in the future. Sharing my story has been therapeutic and healing for me and I hope it encourages you. Thank you for sharing in this journey with me.
The beginning of a New Year is a natural time in the calendar for setting up new rhythms and routines. It's a time when we dream again and look toward the future. For some it's exhilarating, for others intimidating and we can give up on ourselves quicker than we should.
Our ministry friend, Angelique Burgos, shares with us her journey of tackling big dreams and accomplishing them. May her story be an encouragement for your own story.
If I were to encapsulate my life story in a few words, it would be this quote:
Even in a bad situation there's always a positive side even if you can't see it yet. (Susane Colasanti)
My life has been a story of many bad situations and bad choices. During those times it was difficult to see any good coming out of it.
Fourteen years ago, I encountered a lot of bullying, and I dropped out of high school. I was in a toxic relationship that severely traumatized me, and I did not know how I was going to move forward in life.
As my life spiraled, I met the Lord. At a Friday night service, I gave my life to Jesus. The feeling of love I felt from the Lord was so real and pure I couldn’t contain my emotions. It was a day I will never forget. And I also knew I had a long and painful road ahead of me. I wish I could say my life got easier but unfortunately it did not. There were many ups and downs.
A few years passed and I still didn’t have the confidence to achieve some important life goals.
At age 19 I met the man I would later marry. I shared with him my goal of getting my GED (General Equivalency Degree). He encouraged me so much. I knew I needed to get out of the funk I was in. I began attending a night school that offered classes to get my GED. Sadly, that didn’t t last long. The school was in a bad area of town and there were acts of violence. For student safety, the school shut down. A few months later I tried another school, but I was intimated by the workload and with all the anxiety and mental pressure, I quit. It seemed like failure was following me everywhere I went. The failures were clawing away at my confidence, and I began to believe the lie that I would never get my GED.
In the years that followed, I hit the lowest part of my life.
Fast-forward to 2017, I began the journey toward healing and gave my heart fully to the Lord. He brought my boyfriend and I back together and we were married.
At this point in my life, I felt more confidence than ever. I began my GED journey online. As I focused my mind and began my classes, I found out I was pregnant with our first child. I was so nervous. My mind became focused on my pregnancy. It was not an easy pregnancy. I put my personal goals to the side and focused on this new dynamic of bringing our baby into the world. I gave birth and within a few months I was pregnant again. I couldn’t believe it. I was still recovering from the first pregnancy. Now, more than ever my personal goals were not on my priority list. I gave birth to my second child and thought, “That is it for me.” Boy, was I wrong! A few months later, I was pregnant with my youngest. Yes, you read correctly -- 3 babies in 3 years! At that point I told myself, “I can’t do this anymore. I’m just gonna let these goals go.” I began struggling with thoughts of, “My only worth is in being a mom.”
Being a stay-at-home mom became my identity. I began shutting off the other layers of who I am as a person. I began making excuses as to why I couldn’t achieve my goals and dreams. The scariest part was I was okay with settling for less.
I want to encourage women who feel stuck and limited by their season that you are not bound by your situation. Don’t settle for less. Don’t identify yourself as one layer only. One thing I have learned in this journey is that God will always find a way to encourage and remind you of your purpose!
We created individual dream boards as reminders and encouragement to ourselves for achieving our goals and fulfilling our dreams. I brought my board home and hung it in my room.
Later, as I was reflecting on my dream board, God reminded me I hadn’t included “passing my GED” as one of my goals. I tried reasoning with God, “If you can help me accomplish a good portion of these goals, then I may have the confidence to attempt getting my GED again.” As you can tell I was a half-glass-empty thinker at that time.
And friends, I’m here to tell you God did give me the wisdom and confidence to fulfill a good portion of those goals on that board.
While fighting through these thoughts, I shared with my pastors, Tom & Cathleen Zahradnik, my desire to finish my GED. I owed past school dues to the online school that needed paid to complete my classes. The Lord put it in my pastors’ hearts to pay it in full! (Isn’t God good?) My pastors challenged me to complete my GED before the summer of 2023. I was in shock and afraid. My mom responsibilities of...
I walked by faith. And within five months of hard work and sacrifice I completed my GED! I am now a high school graduate! Not only did I complete my GED, but I was able to walk down the aisle with cap and gown — a dream I didn’t see happening!!!
It wasn’t just the completion of a rough chapter in my life but a beginning of something new.
My next goal is broadcasting a podcast. I want to encourage individuals to take life one day at a time and trust HIM in their everyday lives. Another dream of mine is writing a book about inner healing. I want to share my story and encourage others.
Friends, I encourage you to trust in the Lord. Those dreams, goals, and visions you may have placed on the shelf, I challenge you to bring them out again.
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