Excavating Conversational Treasures with Loved Ones

by Sally Matheny
How to Excavate a Deep Conversation

Do you enjoy talking with your loved ones?

Some families never have conversations that scratch below the surface. 

While some people open up and their core beliefs easily flow out, others keep their spiritual thoughts in the vault.

Many Christians become distressed about their aging parents. Their love runs deep and they don’t like seeing their parents suffer. Yet, many times, we realize it’s the pain of not having had deeper conversations with them, and now time is running short.

Or perhaps other family relationships are merely cordial formalities. You long for something more but conversations seem awkward.

People who go forty, fifty, or sixty years not talking about their relationship with Jesus Christ camouflage the entrance of beautiful and precious relationships. It’s imperative you prune back whatever is stifling these important talks so you can excavate the treasures.

Most likely, the root cause is fear.

Fear of:

Inadequate words

We must remind ourselves we serve a God who casts out fear--who enables and empowers us to do difficult things.

If we long to have a deep and thriving relationship with family members then we must dig deeper in our conversations. How do we begin excavating after years of neglecting spiritual topics? 

The talking terrain may be plush with love, but difficult to dig beneath the surface. For others, talking grounds may have hardened or been covered in Astroturf.  

Some talking terrains are difficult to dig beneath the surface.

Gather Your Tools
Before you attempt to turn untilled soil, gather your tools.
You’ll need a powerful machete of prayer. Ask God to help you cut through any obstacles with which the enemy tries to entangle you.

Tote along a shovel strengthened with courage and discernment. Ask God for opportunities to break into conversations of the soul. Pray for strength for the task. Seek wisdom for word choice and timing.

Remember the tiny brush of gentleness. Once you penetrate the surface, it’s essential you use tenderness as you dust away the layers.

Start Small
You can start small, but start somewhere. Begin with snippets of blessings. During your next conversation, share a specific experience of how God has blessed you that day. Mention God’s name and be sure to give him the glory—not “luck”.

If necessary, begin by writing a letter, forwarding a devotional, or treating them to a faith-based movie. Think of ways to soften the soil for initiating a conversation.

Sweat and Tears
As you sweat through difficult situations in your own life, share how God is helping you through them. Confess your own inadequacies in understanding it all but, tell why you still cling to Christ, trusting him with all things.
Even through tears of sorrow, tell about the glimmers of joy and hope you still see.

Recall with your loved one memories of times when exhaustion set in, mentally, physically, or emotionally.  Reveal your struggles. But also share why you persevered. What prize has God set before you that is worth enduring the trials of this world?

Tell them how you see God working through the struggles to strengthen you and prepare you for something better. Can you imagine your life without God in control? Share that.

Discovering the Treasure
Even though it seems the best route, it’s often difficult to unearth the treasure of a deeper relationship with your relative, if you use a bulldozer of sermons. While sermons have their place, they’re not conducive for two-way interactions.
Intentional, thoughtful, and gentle conversations are worth every effort. 

Regardless of the results you receive, don’t give up. Fear not. Maintain or upgrade your tools. Trust God to continue working through you.

Deep conversations take time and work. However, the more often you have them, the easier they become. And once you experience the richness of a deeper relationship, you’ll strive to keep that treasure flowing.

Who will you engage with a rich conversation today?

Engage in rich conversations


What Is Sabotaging Our Goals?

by Sally Matheny

What is Sabotaging Our Goals>
January’s fresh start enthusiasm is fading. Goals are melting into a puddle of best intentions. 

What were you aiming to have accomplished by now?

Healthier Eating and More Exercise
Completing a Project
More Quality Time with Family
Better Organization
A Deeper Commitment to Bible Study and Prayer

Disheartened? It’s easy to become discouraged when we fall short.

“But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.” Romans 7:17-20 (MSG)

Sin sabotages. It often glides smoothly beneath our radars, cleverly disguised as righteous justifications.


What Happened to the Sweetheart Bullies? (and a Children’s Book Giveaway)

by Sally Matheny

Bullies Are No Longer Sweethearts

What happened to the sweetheart bullies? No, they’re not a famous gang of outlaws from the wild, Wild West. Nor are they a rock band from the sixties.

While doing research about bullies, I ran across the origin and history of the word, bully.

Apparently, bully originated in the early 1500’s and was another term for sweetheart. Wow. Either pickings were slim back in the 1500’s or the meaning of the word depreciated.

Indeed, the word bully has traveled the rendition roller coaster from positive to negative on several occasions.

In the year 2015, Dictionary.com defines a bully as a "blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people."

According to the National Education Association:
90% of 4th - 8th graders report being victims of bullying.
1 in 7 students in grades K -12 is either a bully or a victim of bullying.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people worked together to bring about a change of heart in those bullies?

Ministry-to-Children.com offers three great posts dealing with this topic from a Christian worldview:

and Ten Ways Your [Children’s] Ministry Can Help

Lists of children’s books addressing bullying is located at http://childrensbooksguide.com/bullying 
and at

Ethan Blecher Braves a Bully
by Chris Pedersen

One book that should be added to these lists is the recently published book, Ethan Blecher Braves a Bully, by Chris Pedersen. It is a charming book, written
with a Christian worldview. 

A young boy struggles through dilemmas with a bully at school. Throughout the story, opportunities arise for Ethan’s growth in wisdom, courage, and faith.

The author, Chris Pedersen, has kindly donated a book to give away to one of my blog readers. Enter the giveaway (begins 1/13/15) and Rafflecopter will randomly choose a winner next week.

Or you can find Ethan Blecher Braves a Bully at www.purplecarrotbooks.com and on Amazon.

Bully may never mean "sweetheart" again. 
But you can be a sweetheart by helping stop bullying.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Top 2014 Blog Posts and What That Means for You (plus a giveaway!)

by Sally Matheny

Celebrating the Top 2014 Blog Posts
I pray you all have a joyful and blessed new year.
Have you spent time pondering on this past year?

It helps me to reflect on blog posts of the past year. I check out the stats to see what topics readers connected with the most.

Here is a countdown of the ten most popular blog posts written in 2014: