Really Relating

LIFE, LOVE, AND THE RELATIONSHIPS THAT MAKE IT ALL MATTER

Still The One 02/26/2010

Filed under: February,God,Love,Marriage,Month of Love — Vickey Banks @ 11:36 am

February, the Month of Love, is drawing to a close. I can’t say good-bye to it without paying tribute to the man who still holds my heart in the palm of his hands.
  
I’ve been married for almost 27 years now, and I’ve never been more grateful. Should you not have a husband, or should you have one that you’d like to whack over the head with a frying pain, please don’t slam your computer shut or start yelling obscenities at me. I know how fortunate I am.
  
But, you probably don’t know why.
   
For the first 23 years, I was a really good wife. I worked hard at it. Constantly. Although far from perfect, I read numerous books and attended seminars on marriage, cooked and cleaned when I didn’t want to, embraced my husband’s family to the point that they truly become my own, trusted and followed him even when I wasn’t crazy about his decisions, made lists of all the reasons I was grateful for him, washed his dirty clothes, ran his errands, supported his dreams, served alongside him, prayed for him diligently, altered what I wanted to do and how, only spoke well of him, and tried with every fiber of my being to love my Brian like he wanted and needed to be loved. I even learned to like fish!
  
There are 2 problems with the above scenario. The first being that while it might make me sound good, the truth is that Brian made this all embarrassingly easy. Seriously. The man is the epitome of a servant leader. I’ve never met anyone that is easier to love and respect, more sacrificial and generous.
  
The second problem is that our lives took a violent turn 4 years ago and my little world was rocked. Tragedy upon tragedy left me feeling I didn’t have much to give to him or anyone else. But Brian, well he became more supportive, more loving, and more sacrificial.
  
That is why I’m grateful.
   
Ecclesiastes 4:10 says,If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble.”
   
Although he was hurting too, when I was at my worst, Brian refused to leave me there. He reached out and tried to pick me up. Again and again and again. That is my love story in the making.
  
Oh, how I do love that man. After all these years, he’s still the one I want to say “I Do” to.
 
Really Relating
Is there someone in your world who has fallen and feels all alone? There’s no alone like that alone. That is real trouble. How would God have you reach out and help them today?
 

A Future and A Hope 01/29/2010

Filed under: Circumstances,Future,God,Hope,Pain,Plans,Promises from God — Vickey Banks @ 5:57 pm

“What if things don’t get better?”

That’s the question a hurting friend asked me last week. It was a valid question, considering her circumstances. In a desperate attempt to encourage her, loved ones keep telling my friend what loved ones often say when we’re hurting:

   “Things will get better.”
   
But…what if they don’t?
   
I understand her question; honestly, it’s one I’ve asked God before. Like my friend, I live with chronic physical pain. Every flipping day. And some days, well, if I’m honest (and I am), I’m just done. Finished. Worn slick from painting on a happy face, I can’t help but wonder if this is as good as it gets. My weary self wants to focus on all the things I can’t do because of wacked out discs and the potentially grim future ahead. 
Ahhh…but then I remember a precious promise from God, 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD.
They are plans for good and not for disaster,
to give you a future and a hope.”
– The Bible, Jeremiah 29:11
  
While that might not change my circumstances, it radically rearranges my reality. Because of Him,  
  
I have a future… I have a hope.
   
The God of the Bible doesn’t do random. He’s the same God who created the plants before He created the animals and people who would need the plants to survive. He’s a God of logic and order. Along with His profound purposefulness, He is loving and not mean-spirited. That means that as long as He leaves me here on planet Earth, He has good reason. He has plans with my name of them; Plans for my good. A future filled with hope.
  
You know what?
  
The same is true for you.

Really Relating
How does it make you feel to know that God has plans with your name on them?
 

What God (Sweetly) Shouts In Our Pain 01/26/2010

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” – C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Do you ever feel surrounded by hurting people?

Look around you now. They’re everywhere. From Haiti to your own home, people are hurting. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, people are flat worn out from dealing with pain.

  
Maybe it’s the person sitting in your chair.
  
During the darkest night of my soul, when I was sure that I could NOT handle one more miniscule drop of pain and thought I seriously just might lose my ever lovin’ mind, I did the only thing I knew to do: I ran to God. Kicking. Screaming. Crying uncontrollably. Arms flailing. Heart questioning. Desperate.
  
It was the smartest thing I ever did.
  
I opened up His Word, leaned in close, and listened with every fiber of my being. Here is what God (sweetly) shouted to me:
  
I Understand
   
As I looked closely at Jesus’ life, I drew huge comfort from the fact that He also was so deeply moved when a beloved friend died that He couldn’t keep the tears from flowing. He knew what it felt like to be overwhelmed with sorrow, to feel abandoned by His friends, and to be so undone by His circumstances that He begged God to change them. As I saw Him described as despised and forsaken, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, I knew that Jesus understood pain. God walked around this earth on human legs and felt the same kind of pain that you and I experience.
   
And. He. Cried.
   
I See and Hear YOUR Pain
 
God doesn’t just know pain, He knows our pain. Psalm 139 promises that He searches and knows us so intimately that He knows our very thoughts and what we’re going to say before we even say it. He cares deeply when our hearts are broken.  He begs us to pour out our hearts to Him, offering to be the refuge we need.
 
I Will Never Leave You
 
When His disciples where upset that He was leaving this earth, Jesus assured them that God would follow up by forevermore sending His believers the Holy Spirit to live inside them, ensuring He’d be with us forever. Throughout Scripture He lovingly assures us that He will never leave us to manage life on our own.
 
I Will Take Care of You
 
Among His many promises, this is perhaps the most comforting for me, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) No amount of pain is bigger than the God who holds onto us. That is comfort you can count on.
What has God (sweetly) shouted to you in your pain? 
 

Beginning Again 01/06/2010

Filed under: Beginning Again,Dream,Goal,God,New Beginnings,New Year,Plans,Really Relating — Vickey Banks @ 10:53 am


“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” 
C.S. Lewis
  
A new year means a new beginning. There’s something so hopeful about new beginnings, isn’t there? We love the idea that we can have a fresh start, no matter what we’ve done or who we’ve been. We can join a gym, tackle a new Bible Reading plan, try our hand at a new hobby, or finally learn to play the piano.
  
Although a new year is a fresh start, it isn’t exactly a blank slate. While we can start over, we aren’t like a new calendar or journal with empty pages of promise just waiting to be filled. We each come to the New Year with a powerful one-two punch that sets us up for a future that surpasses our wildest dreams.
  
PERSPECTIVE THAT COMES FROM OUR PERSONAL HISTORY 
What do you know about yourself – your personality & temperament – that will help you to not just set goals and dream dreams, but to realize them? What normally helps you to succeed & what wears down your good intentions? Do you need accountability and short-term goals? Who can help you get to where you want to go? What knowledge do you need to do what you want to do? Take stock and then take aim with the perspective God has given you.
  
POSSIBILITIES THAT COME FROM THE GOD WHO LIVES IN US 
If you’ve accepted Christ as the Savior that the Bible says He is, that means you bring all of His resources to your every goal and dream! His contacts, strength, tenacity, power, and more. He is the God that regularly makes what’s impossible possible! Allow Him to do in and through you what you could never do on your own.
  
As Andy Andrews wisely says in his inspiring book, The Traveler’s Gift, “A person without a dream never had a dream come true.” So go ahead…Set a new goal. Dream a new dream. It’s a New Year. God has great plans with your name on them. Ask Him how you can cooperate. You really can begin again.
  
“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11, The Bible
   
Really Relating 
What is one specific and measurable goal you’d like to set for 2010? How can what you know about yourself and the God who is IN you help you to realize your dream?

 

Communication 12/15/2009

Filed under: Communication,Facebook,Friends,God,Technology,Twitter — Vickey Banks @ 6:59 pm


“Twitter? What’s Twitter?”
“It’s a form of online communication.”

“Like Facebook?
“Kinda.”

“I don’t do Facebook either. Should I be doing Facebook?”

There we were, a small group of long-time friends, supposedly enjoying an evening out together. Except that one or another of our cell phones kept ringing, somebody was showing their daughter’s senior pictures that were newly posted on Facebook, and someone else was checking her Twitter feeds.  All while my friend Christi was trying to figure out if she was missing out on something because she’s not addicted to her cell phone or hooked up to blog, Twitter, or Facebook! The quizzical look on her face was priceless.

I’ve often wondered if all this new technology was truly helping or hindering our communication. Are these great tools that help us reconnect with old friends actually keeping us from genuinely connecting with those sitting next to us? Do we really need another “form of communication?”

Fortunately, God tells us in Psalm 139 that HE understands even our every thought from afar – that He knows our each and every word before it leaps from our lips or finds it’s voice through our fingertips! Apparently, we communicate with Him even when we’re not trying to do so! God is getting our messages. Loud and clear.  Real time. No sitting around waiting for Him to notice some blinking light or un-clicked message. No lost in cyberspace until He takes a few moments to look us up online.

Whether we think it, sing it, say it, or put it on paper, He gets every single one of our messages – no matter how many of us are talking at the same time, in multitudes of ways and languages. Scripture assures us that He completely comprehends what we’re thinking, feeling, and meaning…even we don’t understand ourselves! He gets us. 

Now that’s THE form of communication we all need.

 
Really Relating 
How does knowing that God gets you (your thoughts and feelings) make you feel?
What is your favorite way of communicating your thoughts and feelings to Him?
 

The Conversation of Life 11/10/2009

I love a really good conversation. You know, the kind that Nora Ephron might write – especially if her life revolved around a Biblically based, authentic faith in God. The kind of chatty conversation that spills over with what is deep and meaningful, fantastical and oozing with hope-filled dreams, newsy and real, transparent and intimate, but also loaded with belly shaking laughs. A Gilmore Girls meets CS Lewis and the boys at their favorite Eagle & Child hangout in Oxford. Yeah, that’s manna for this quality time craving gal!

 A chronic thinker, many of my most animated conversations occur inside my own head. I think that’s why I eventually took to journaling – just trying to make room for all the thoughts that bounce around in this increasingly overcrowded brain of mine. But, there’s nothing like having someone to think and dream and laugh and cry out loud with, is there? A girlfriend who hears your heart and doesn’t think you’ve lost your ever lovin’ mind. A trusted confidante whose head begins to nod and whose eyes mist up when you talk about the darkest night of your soul. Isn’t it incredible when someone shares her own dreams with you, entrusting a little piece of her heart into your hands? And God love the heaven-sent friend whose quick wit and quirky take on things gives you some MUCH needed perspective when you’re fresh out. Someone who alternatively helps you make sense out of things AND isn’t afraid to sometimes say out loud, “You know…I just DON’T know. Sometimes life is just a mess and I’m sorry you’re up to waist in it.”

I do love the conversation of life. The laid-back contemplation, intentional and forward-leaning listening, the kind and caring comments, fast comebacks, whispered secrets, and the gesture-making, volume-rising enthusiasm of it all. Whether you mostly find yourself thinking, listening, talking, or (like some of us) doing them all at the same time…you are part of the conversation of life. And, it’s that conversation that we relate to. I hope that’s what you’ll find here at this blog: a conversation you can relate to. May you feel understood. Heard. May you find some fresh perspective, a good giggle now and then, and something worth both thinking about and commenting on when you finish reading here.

Join me, won’t you. I’d love to share part of life’s conversation with you.

Really Relating
What have some of your most memorable conversations been about? Who have you shared them with and why are you still thinking about them today?