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When God Says, “No”

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Yesterday a precious family laid a son, husband, father, nephew, and cousin to rest. There are no words that can possibly ease their ache.

Brandon Hayslip’s story is unique and people from all over the world have watched and have prayed for him. We have pleaded for God to heal Brandon for the sake of his wife and his new daughter. We expected God to say, “Yes,” but he said, “No.”

The Hayslip’s are not a family that is easily shaken when it comes to faith. They and their extended family members have experienced far more suffering than any family I have ever known. Brandon’s cousin, Tiffany, passed away from cancer when she was just 13-years old. Brandon’s own mother suffered from cancer and his aunt, a dear friend of mine, has had it three times. His grandmother experienced multiple types of cancers and finally passed away from it a couple of years ago.

In spite of the suffering they have experienced (what is listed above is only part of their story), they have stayed faithful to their God. Like anyone, they have had and still have questions and they agonize over “why?” But they have stayed faithful.

Last night as I was holding my own baby girl—born just a week and a half after Brandon and Christina’s—I began thinking about Christina and the loneliness she must be experiencing. I began feeling an ache that I know cannot even begin to compare with hers. A song was playing on my computer called, “Faith.” Some of the lines were, “Faith to see beyond what I can’t see, faith to know that you can do great things. I will trust you, Lord, I’ll always believe. As I hold on to my faith, Jesus you are holding on to me.” I’ll be honest, the song didn’t encourage me, it actually made me cry harder. I couldn’t help thinking, “But they DID have faith . . . and you said, ‘No.'” That’s when it hit me: faith isn’t the issue here.

My faith has not been shaken by the “no” in this situation. I have always known that walking with God does not make someone immune to suffering. I have experienced enough in my life to know that God says “no” all of the time. But there is something that is arguably just as precious as my faith that has been challenged . . . my hope. I have looked at my daughter so many times since this happened and have thought, What if she suffers, too? What if she gets sick? What if you say, “no” again? What is the point of praying for protection or healing or anything else?

As I pondered these things it was like the Lord whispered to me, “Don’t be afraid to hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you . . . Plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” It doesn’t seem like God has been faithful to this promise . . . but he has been. He knew the plan he had for Brandon—and he fulfilled it. Brandon is thriving. Likewise, the plan God has for Christina and for Aria continues. They will be OK because God is with them.

The truth is, the plan for everyone is the same, because the plan is Christ. HE is our future and our hope, whether we remain on earth or go ahead of those we love to the place he has prepared for us.

My prayer for Christina and the rest of the Hayslip family is that they won’t be afraid to hope. I pray that their confidence in the goodness and mercy of God will remain strong. I pray that, in spite of how black things seem now, they will cling to the promise that there are good things ahead—beautiful things. And although Brandon will not be present in body to experience them, he will be in spirit. I believe that because there is a passage in Hebrews that says we are “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.” Brandon is in that cloud, cheering everyone on.

Many years ago, I wrote a song called, Face to Face about Tiffany, Brandon’s cousin. Tiffany’s brother Matthew had written some words, “Now that you’re in heaven, tell me what you see. I see Jesus, I see Jesus, I see Jesus, everywhere.” I’ll never forget the moments I spent at the piano, thinking about those words, crying as more words began to flow and I began to sing. The song came so easily and I felt God’s presence . . . it was quite an experience.

I have recently re-recorded the song and want to share the new mix with you all today.

There is a line that says, “So remember in your darkest hour, when things just don’t seem fair. Don’t lose sight of what he promised you, he’s with you, right by your side.” I have a feeling this is what Brandon’s spirit is pleading for his family today . . .

Face To Face – Mix from Stephanie Staples on Vimeo.

New Mommy Musts

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What they say is true: no matter how much you prepare, you will never be prepared for motherhood. It changes your life in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. There are, however, a few things that might make the transition into mommy-hood just a wee bit easier. I have put together a list for my soon-to-be momma friends of the things I received/purchased myself/wish I had purchased sooner.

Boppy Newborn Lounger
I’ll be honest, I did not expect to use this much. I almost regretted putting it on my registry. But it ended up being the thing we used the most . . . and are still using! Get one. It’s perfect for naps. It’s portable. You can take it all over the house or put it in the center of your dining room table. It’s soft and makes Scotlyn feel secure without smushing her little body up . . . which is important when you are worrying every second about whether or not your baby is still breathing. (Oh yes, my friend. You will worry, too.)

Fisher Price Deluxe Rock ‘N Play
I didn’t get this soon enough! When our baby was just 5lbs we literally had nothing to put her in during the day. She was even too small for the boppy lounger! We ended up bringing our changing pad downstairs to put in the middle of our huge table so she had a place to nap. When we got the Rock ‘N Play it was AWESOME. Just get it. You can use it as a bassinet by your bed or throw it in your trunk if you are going to visit someone. (I had heard nothing but good things about it but I was confused. I thought it was flimsy and that it rocked and was worried it would be unstable. But you can make it where it stays still. And the one I ended up ordering—the flat one—was not flimsy at all!)

Aden & Anais Boutique Muslin Swaddles
Another purchase I wish I had made earlier. I had a few muslin swaddles but considering we had a baby in the middle of the summer, I didn’t have nearly enough. If you live in the south and  your baby is due in the summer, do yourself a favor: get at least 6. They keep your wee one from overheating! (Also, notice I say, “boutique.” The ones at Buy Buy Baby, Target, Babies R Us, etc. are not the same thread count and are scratchy. Your baby will notice and so will you. The other ones get softer with each wash.)

Wannanubs
These are the greatest invention ever. When your uncoordinated baby “holds” it with their tiny fingers your heart will melt . . . for the millionth time. Get at least two. You can find them at baby stores and at amazon.com.

Boppy Pillow
I waited a month before buying one. Don’t do that. Your spine will be angry and every muscle in your body from your belly button up will yell at you. If you don’t get a boppy pillow, get SOMETHING to support your arm. I used a paper towel holder once . . . before I got the boppy… I was that desperate.

Lanolin
Don’t try the fancy stuff that says it’s natural. Just get the lanolin. Trust me. Actually, ask for it at the hospital and they will send you home with a bottle. You will need it for the first month, at least. Unless you enjoy crying . . .

Play Gym

These things are not over rated. They are GREAT!

Lullaby CDs
The most beautiful, not annoying, adult music that babies love: Hidden in My Heart Volumes 1-3
Plumb, Blink
Twila Paris, Bedtime Prayers

MAM Bottles
These are much better for newborns than the bottles that will come with your breast pump.

Fisher Price Bouncer
We lovingly call this Scotlyn’s “bunny seat.” She didn’t fit into this until she was about a month old but now she sleeps in it all the time. She also loves to just sit in it and coo and play.

My clothing advice:

Don’t get too many onsies. They are so hard to get over your baby’s head! They cry, you cry. I don’t know why anyone ever invented them. The only good thing about them is that babies seem to feel more secure and stay warmer in one pieces. Try getting the ones with buttons or snaps on the shoulders.

Be careful when purchasing clothing with buttons or snaps in the back! Would you want to lay on metal all day? Ow. Just be sure if there is a button or snap it is in a comfortable position when you lay your baby down.

Get the zippered and snappy one pieces for your baby to sleep in. Scotlyn sleeps so much better when her arms and legs are covered. I wish I had done this sooner. I am so thankful for my friends who made sure I had some!

Instead of swaddling, get a sleep sack that enables your baby to actually move. Swaddling too tightly does NOT make your baby feel like he/she is in the womb (they kick and flip around, remember?). If you must join the swaddle fad, swaddle reasonably. Don’t squish your little love. Let them breathe and kick and move their arms a little. Scotlyn had her hands up by her face in the womb so it made sense she hated having her arms pushed down in a swaddle when she was born. Yes, they “get used to it” but you don’t have to make them. Stretching is good for babies. They are growing. Sure, they will startle themselves awake sometimes. That’s OK.

Romans 12

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I read an article today about what new mommy’s need. The writer’s remarks were witty and spot on. It inspired me to think about what a life of love and service looks like.

Paul wrote, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Ro 12:10)

“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”

We are called to a life of service—to think of others before thinking of ourselves. “Outdo one another”

But how do we do this? How can we serve willingly and selflessly? How can we know what people actually need?

By following Paul’s appeal at the beginning of what we have labeled “chapter 12″:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Transformation is key. We have to let Christ change us—to open our minds and hearts to what is true and right and good so he can fill us with his love. His pure, unselfish, untainted love.

“Let love be genuine.
Abhor what is evil;
Hold fast to what is good.
Do not be slothful in zeal
Be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope,
be patient in tribulation,
be constant in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the saints
And seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice,
Weep with those who weep.
Live in harmony with one another.
Do not be haughty, but
Associate with the lowly.
Never be wise in your own sight.
Repay no one evil for evil, but
Give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Christ “emptied himself,” “made himself nothing.” Because he lived this kind of life, he was sensitive to the needs of others. He was able to empathize, not just sympathize. He was able to live the life we are challenged to live in Romans 12. He loved purely. He loved without expecting or needing anything in return. He loved without strings.

We love because he first loved us.

scotlyn_rostad

Introducing Scotlyn Naomi!

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On July 11, 2014 at 10:50PM our “wee bear” was born! In just two short months Scotlyn Naomi has captured our hearts. We feel incredibly blessed to have been given such a beautiful and delightful little lady to love.

In other news: my new album is almost done! For real! I have one more vocal track to finish and there are just a few tunes left to mix. If you didn’t catch the sneak peak over Easter you can listen HERE.

More news: we are heading back to SCOTLAND! Expect us in the first two weeks of December, Scottie friends! (God willing, of course!). Since last year’s Christmas tour was interrupted by illness we have decided to cross the pond again . . . HOPEFULLY with a different result (prayers much appreciated for safety and health for all three of us!). We are still confirming our bookings and have one or two dates available so do not hesitate to contact us if your church/ministry/organization would like to host.

That’s all for now!

Peace & joy,

Stephanie

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“Trusting God With Your Tomorrows”

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David Wilkerson passed away after being in a car accident two years ago. I miss him. I miss listening to him share his heart. If there is ONE thing I would say that I learned from him it is this: Trust in the Lord. He is and always will be faithful.

It sounds too simple, “What’s so special about that sort of message? A lot of people say that!” But if you know about David Wilkerson’s life and the many things he and his family suffered/still suffer, you would understand why those words run deep.

Yesterday a young man who has beaten cancer and has just learned he may again be facing treatments soon shared this message. I am sure I heard it years ago but it was such an encouragement to listen again. I have been a bit down about not being able to complete my “to do list.” Sometimes it seems I will never accomplish what I need to . . . there’s always one thing or another that delays or hinders. Sometimes my records take two years to complete and it’s usually due to unforeseen circumstances or sudden illness or injury. Those seasons make me feel “imprisoned” and can lead me into dark periods of discouragement where I wonder what God’s purpose is for me if he is allowing me to be shut away instead of out sharing what he’s put on my heart.  This message reminded me that even Paul experienced delays. He was also hindered. He was imprisoned—sometimes for years at a time. He too experienced seasons of great discouragement and felt defeated. But he pressed on. He continued writing and doing his best to encourage his brothers and sisters in Christ to trust in the Lord no matter what. (Little did he know that God was using him to write much of the New Testament!)

If we have given God control of our lives we must trust him in every circumstance. We don’t see the big picture, but he does. No matter where we are or are not, what we are doing or not doing, whether we are well or sick, God is faithful. He is ALWAYS moving behind the scenes, preparing a way for us and preparing our hearts and minds for the next phase of the journey.

I hope you will take some time to watch or listen to this message.

 

 

Rainbow

Guard Your Joy

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We are getting closer and closer to the arrival of our sweet baby girl and while the ache from our first loss due to miscarriage is still fresh in my heart I am so filled with joy at the thought of holding my daughter for the first time. In my case, the pain of loss is not stronger than the joy of anticipation.

I am thankful I have had the opportunity to carry a child. I do not take this miracle of life for granted as I know there are many who are aching to be able to experience pregnancy and parenthood.

Pregnancy isn’t easy—it isn’t supposed to be. As new life begins, the new mother realizes that she will never be the same again. As a child grows and develops and becomes everything it is meant to be, the mother is also transformed. She not only carries the life, she is changed by what is happening inside of her. Her body, mind, and spirit are affected—most of the time without her even being aware of it. It’s a perfect picture of what happens when we ask Christ to live in us.

As I look back on the past 9+ months I wish I could say all I have experienced was joy. But life doesn’t usually go that way. As I type this I am reminded of a beautiful young woman who is about to give birth to her first child (also a baby girl). She has Lupus and she and her husband just learned yesterday that his cancer has returned. As the proverb says, “Even in laughter the heart may ache . . . “ (Proverbs 14:13)

There have been moments in my life where I have asked, “Why, Lord? Why can’t we just experience JOY without it always having to be mixed with grief and pain?” It seems like something or someone always has to come and put a shadow over what is meant to be beautiful and good. I guess the best way to handle these situations is to cherish the joy. We must choose to embrace and cling to what is lovely. I remember a friend of mine saying to me earlier this year, “Guard your joy.” Wise counsel.

“Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world . . . “ (1 Peter 5:8-9)

The enemy of our souls wants to rob us of joy—he wants us to focus on everything that is negative and painful. He wants us to lose heart so that we will falter in our faith. Sometimes he succeeds by convincing us the pain is stronger, but it isn’t—at least, it doesn’t have to be. We can choose what we focus on. We can choose to trust and to hope in God. It’s hard, but it’s possible. It’s no wonder the apostle needed to encourage us with these words: “. . . whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Life is filled with joy and sorrow . . . so guard your joy! Don’t let anything or anyone or any circumstance rob you of enjoying the lovely blessings God sends your way. Cherish them. The blessings will be a special grace to help you get through everything else.

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

It’s OK to Rest

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“It is our best work that God wants, not the dregs of our exhaustion. I think he must prefer quality to quantity.” George MacDonald

I find it interesting that our culture seems to think that only during pregnancy is it OK for a woman to admit she’s tired and to actually take time to take care of herself. I spent four years trying to recover from a neck injury and I always felt guilty for being utterly exhausted and not able to keep up. I’m sure part of the guilt stemmed from my own insecurity, but I really think our culture needs to embrace the concept of “rest”—pregnant or not.

People with chronic, debilitating pain or illness are often made to feel like they are weak or just making excuses. It’s sad that we have a tendency to reject or scoff at what we do not understand or have not personally experienced, but we have all been guilty of doing this. Unlike many other conditions, pregnancy is “common.” The risks and side effects are common knowledge, therefore they are accepted by society.

I have been keeping in touch with a young woman who suffers from Lupus. She is also expecting a baby girl and is also due in July, so it has been fun going back and forth comparing notes. Her will to conceive and to carry this child is especially admirable to me. It’s adding to her already day-to-day struggle with Lupus but she is handling it with grace. She is able to do this because she has learned what many others who suffer from chronic illness or pain have learned: it’s OK to rest. Pregnant or not. It’s OK.

I’ll be honest, there have been a few moments where I’ve almost had to step back in surprise over the concern and understanding people have shown to me since being pregnant.  While I deeply appreciate and need the support, pregnancy has felt like a cake walk in comparison to the constant, burning pain I experienced on a daily basis when my spine was inflamed. On more than one occasion I have thought back and wondered how differently I would have felt back then had I had the same amount of support when struggling with my neck.

I say all this to encourage those who suffer from chronic illness or pain and who aren’t pregnant: it’s OK to take time for yourself and to rest. It’s OK to communicate when you need assistance. It’s OK that you can’t “keep up” with the rest of the world.

To those who don’t suffer from chronic illness or pain but know those who do, please remember: there’s a light at the end of the tunnel with pregnancy—a beautiful blessing and reward at the end of the journey. But for some people, there is no light at the end of the tunnel; there is no end. Encourage your friends or family members who are suffering. Remember that they deserve and need some R&R from time to time. Remind them that it’s OK to rest.

Kindness and empathy really make a difference!

“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” (Luke 6:31)

Scotland

Perspective, Purpose, & Perseverance

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It’s amazing how easily we lose perspective when we don’t carve out time for quiet.

Last night I was finally able to go to our church’s monthly worship & prayer night. The service was simple—no hype, no fancy lights, no loud praying. Just a dim room where people could sit by themselves, reflect, and just . . . be.

When I began to reflect and pray I realized, once again, that I have allowed busyness and stress to cause me to lose sight of purpose; and in losing sight of purpose, I have lost the strength, and even the desire to persevere.

What is the secret of your strength?” This simple question was asked of a man named Samson who was called to be completely and utterly committed to God. He knew his secret . . . sanctification . . . but he forsook it. He allowed his desires for other things (a not-so-nice woman) and his earthly hunger (honey in the carcass of a lion) to distract him from his calling—his purpose. He chose to walk away from what was truly important and as a result he ended up blind and as “weak as any other man.” This is what happens to us when we don’t make space for quiet reflection. We blind ourselves to the eternal and we worry about the temporary.

The things that overwhelm us to the point of despair will be less likely to cloud our vision if we carve out time for quiet. The God who created the universe is the same God who hears our prayers and is able to answer them. If we take a few moments every day to reflect on his goodness, we might be surprised to rediscover faith and find the strength we need to live up to our calling: Christ-likeness.

There is a reason there are so many passages in the scripture about perseverance. Life isn’t easy and it never has been. So, like our own Savior did, we must carve out time for quiet. We must seek who we say we believe, find our rest in God, live up to our purpose, and persevere in it.

. . . let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience . . . washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works . . .  encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

For,“Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”

But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. (Hebrews 10:19-25, 35-39 ESV)

And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:12-13 ESV)

 

ronald

The god(s) of this world

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For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4 ESV)

We live in an age where knowledge is available to us in seconds. If we have a question about something, all we have to do is “Google it.” This is both wonderful and awful.

Maintaining a healthy perspective on what truly matters in life is not easy when every article on msn.com offers some new tidbit on how to make our lives better, our bodies healthier, or our relationships stronger. Today I saw and sadly, I admit, read an article on the happiest and saddest cities in America (how do they really know this stuff anyway?!). Some of the information we obtain is borderline useless. We can become so “educated” that we lose all common sense.

Here’s an example: when crib shopping, I stumbled across some articles about “toxic cribs” vs safe cribs. Apparently there are many chemicals used in the stain, etc.. for cribs that can be toxic when inhaled. Ew. Not pleasant information  . . . but we must take these things for what they are: tidbits of truth, not the whole picture. Putting your child in what is considered a “toxic” crib will not necessarily harm them (though, it is not a pleasant thought).

While I appreciate any and every effort to educate the public on safety and health, I am reminded of the words of the apostle, you are not your own. No matter how much I try to protect myself, my husband, my cats, and eventually, my child, from the evils of chemicals, pesticides, GMO’s, and whatever else is the latest rage, I can only do so much to preserve and protect life . . .

. . . Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1 Timothy 4 ESV)

The epistles are full of reminders and warnings about distractions. There’s a fine line between becoming educated and taking care of ourselves and making ourselves (and our bodies and bellies) into little gods. We must remember that we have a higher purpose than self-preservation.

God divided a sea, enabled a child to defeat a giant, and rescued a faithful man from being mauled by lions . . .  these new hazards are simply that: new hazards. Danger has always been part of life . . . and God has always been the protector and preserver of life.

We should not ignore good information and we should do our best to be healthy . . . but we should spend our energy on what really matters. Christ-likeness.

. . . For to this end we toil and strive,because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

If I know the ins and outs of nutrition (but I have not love . . . )
If all the food in my fridge was grown in my own garden (but I have not love . . . )
If I always remember my reusable bag at the grocery store (but I have not love . . . )
If my sheets are made of organic cotton (but I have not love . . . )
If my make-up was never tested on animals (but I have not love . . . )
If my child never eats at McDonald’s (but I have not love . . . )

If I am not growing in my faith and understanding of Christ, if I am not learning to love my neighbors more and more, if I do not spend time seeking the God I claim to know . . . 

I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. . . I am nothing . . . I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love never ends. . . . as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part . . . but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. . . For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13 ESV)

. . . Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have . . . practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. . . .

Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. . . .

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves . . . teachings . . . require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. (1 Timothy 4 ESV)

For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly . . . with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:18-20)

Expectations in Relationships

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“Whatever men expect, they soon come to think they have a right to: the sense of disappointment can, with very little skill on (the devil’s) part, be turned into a sense of injury.” C.S. Lewis

Conflict in relationships usually occur when expectations are not met. For example, one may expect another to react a specific way to some news given, and when the reaction does not meet the expectation . . . conflict. Or, one may expect a certain task or event to be done or planned a specific way, and when it is done or planned another way. . . conflict.

There are three major events in life that showcase these heart issues best: weddings, funerals, and births. Most of us have experienced one, if not all, of these events and we know first hand that how family and friends react to these three major events in a persons life can make or break relationships.

James wrote, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people!” (James 1 ESV) James made a good point: most arguments stem from selfishness—from only seeing things from our own perspective and wanting things to be a certain way . . .  in short, from not putting other people’s thoughts or feelings before our own.

Conflict is not always a bad thing. In fact, it’s a necessary, if not vital part of spiritual growth. It’s also an integral part of maintaining healthy relationships with one another. If someone spends their life trying to avoid conflict they are, in a sense, refusing to look in the mirror and deal with themselves. They are also refusing to walk in the calling that all of us have received which is to “encourage one another” and “spur one another on toward love and good works.”  Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.” (1 Corinthians 11:18-19)  Paul was not saying, “I’m happy you are arguing,” but he was pointing out that conflict merely exposes things in hearts that need to change.

The genuineness of our faith is tested and refined by conflict. How we react when we don’t get our way and our expectations are not met says a lot about who we are. Are we willing to give up what we deem to be our “rights”? Are we willing to give up our own dreams so another’s may come true? Are we willing to lay aside our strong feelings about how things should be done and let them be done another way?  How we react to conflict shows us whether or not we are truly walking in love. Do we consider other people’s feelings, desires, expectations, etc.. to be more important than our own? Or will we maintain a sense of injury if we don’t get what we want?

“Men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury. And the sense of injury depends on the feeling that a legitimate claim has been denied.” C.S. Lewis

Philippians 2:2-5 should be our guide on how to deal with conflict and “grow up” in faith: ” . . . complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus . . . “

“This is one of the miracles of love: it gives a power of seeing through its own enchantments and yet not being disenchanted.” C.S. Lewis

At the end of the day, what matters most is not whether we get our way or win an argument. What matters most is whether or not we are willing to be challenged and changed—becoming more like our Savior.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself . . . Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. (Philippians 2:5-9, 14-15 ESV)