THE ART OF LISTENING (# 4)

SOME OF MY FAVORITE PEOPLE ARE THOSE

WHO HAVE LEARNED HOW TO BE THE HOST IN CONVERSATION.

THEY ARE OTHER-CENTERED.

THEY LISTEN TO UNDERSTAND, NOT TO REPLY.

THEY HAVE MASTERED THE RARE ART OF LISTENING.

artoflistening

WE MUST BECOME “WOMEN OF UNDERSTANDING” WHO KNOW HOW

TO DRAW OUT THE DEEP WATERS OF ANOTHER’S SOUL.

2014_deepwaters_sermon-400x400

The purposes of a man’s heart is like deep water,

but a man of understanding will draw it out.

Proverbs 20:5

 WE NEED EARS TO HEAR WHAT IS KEEPING THEM FROM JESUS.

SO OFTEN THE ART OF LISTENING

GOES HAND IN HAND WITH

THE ART OF HOSPITALITY.

JESUS DIDN’T HAVE A HOME,

BUT STILL, HE PRACTICED HOSPITALITY.

2-on-the-shoreHE MADE A BREAKFAST ON THE BEACH

AND INVITED PETER TO JOIN HIM.

HE TOLD ZACCHEAUS,

“I’M COMING TO YOUR HOUSE TODAY.”

HE BROKE BREAD WITH THE TWO ON THE ROAD TO EMMAUS

AND THEIR EYES WERE OPENED

eatingemmaus

WHAT I’VE LEARNED THAT IS GOLDEN,

IS TO INVITE A FRIEND TO LUNCH

WITH THE GOAL OF LISTENING TO HER HEART

  the-power-of-listening-an-excerpt-from-the-art-of-shouting-quietly_source_stocksy

DAVID AUGSBERGER SAYS:

augsbergerI ALSO LOVE TO INVITE A FEW NON-CHRISTIANS WHO SHARE SOMETHING IN COMMON AND A FEW CHRISTIAN FRIENDS

INTO MY HOME FOR A SIMPLE MEAL.

love8694d2f3ef98f3986555e39d9a04cb46THEN I ASK THEM TO TELL ME THEIR STORIES.

(Everyone has a story.)

OR I E-MAIL A FEW SIMPLE QUESTIONS AHEAD OF TIME FOR THEM TO PONDER.

(I’ll share some gems.)

I’VE GOT GAMES READY IN CASE IT FLOPS,

BUT I HAVE YET TO SEE IT TRULY FLOP.

INSTEAD, THERE IS USUALLY LAUGHTER, VULNERABILITY, AND BONDING.

GREAT GRATITUDE IS EXPRESSED WHEN THEY LEAVE.

I REMEMBER ONE MAN TELLING ME,

“This was one of the loveliest evenings I’ve ever experienced.”

Listening is an art.

Few people are good at it.

But in Christ we can be.

Sunday

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

 

Monday-Wednesday Bible Study

We cannot love in our own strength, but when we consider how Christ loved us, our hearts of stone begin to turn to hearts of flesh.

2. In Philippians 2:1, Paul gives four “if’s” to remind us of ways Christ has loved us. Take one of those “if’s” and give an illustration of how Christ has loved you. (This is a bit of a challenge — so I will start and you can follow.)

 

       The 3rd is “any participation in the Spirit.” I’ve been working with my wonderful editor Elisa on my book —  

     and together, because we both have His Spirit, we are better at honing this book. There is a thrill in sensing

     the presence of God guiding us together.

 

     The 4th if is “any affection and sympathy” — It overwhelms me when I sense His “affection” because I am a

     woman who repeatedly fails Him, but so often He is the one, because of His affection for me (can it be?)

     who helps me out of the very messes i made. He brings to my remembrance where I put the keys I cannot

     find, He grants me grace with a friend I hurt…

Your Turn:

 

 

 

3. Because of these things, what does Paul ask of us in Philippians 2:2-4?

phil-2umblr_nk00yuhzhc1s91yx0o1_500

4. How could you apply verse 4 to the art of listening?

5. What wisdom do you find concerning the art of listening from Proverbs 10:19?

6. What are some ways you might obey Proverbs 20:5 with non-Christians?

Thursday-Friday:

A Ted’s Talk and A Conversation Assignment

Though this is a secular talk, and you may need to show grace, I do believe you will be a better listener if you listen to her and share something that stood out to you.

 

 

 

7. What stood out to you and why?

 

The following is a list of questions that might help you in drawing out others. If I am having people over (for a dinner party or just popcorn or dessert) I will e-mail a couple out ahead of time so they can be thinking about them. Though I don’t say this, they are based on the big story of the Bible: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration

Creation: Share a childhood memory that played a part in shaping the person you are today

Fall and Redemption: Share a trial you went through and also something you learned from it.

Restoration: What are some hopes you have for the rest of your life?

8. Challenge: We are going to spend two weeks on listening — and this week or next I’d like you to really practice this art with the people in your path and perhaps plan a get together with more planned sharing. Let us know by the end of next week what you have done or at least planned! 

SATURDAY:

9. What is your take-a-way and why?

COMMENTS (190) Post a New Comment ↓
Reply

1.  What stands out and why?
What stands out to me is that I need to learn this art/skill badly!  Here is the thing:  it’s not that I don’t listen, in fact, I’d say in the majority of my conversations with family and friends, I do more of the listening than speaking (I have lots of profuse talkers in my life! :D) which is fine,  but I need to get from listening to profuse, shallow chatter to meaningful, guided conversation that leads to spiritual talk and that is what I greatly lack skill in.  I do listen, but, again, the majority of my friends are gabbers and the conversation is very much dominated by them speaking and me listening…but listening mostly to words that will not lead to a conversation towards Jesus, or at least I don’t know how to guid them that way..  (My friends with whom the conversations are pretty balanced and spiritually deep are already Believers.)  With non-Christians, I think I’m not so good at hearing the message behind the message (that sounds like a Dee thing, just came to me!:D)  So maybe I’m not as much of an engaged, active listener as I need to be?  I try to look for places to jump in with “God talk” but it still feels very unnatural.  Like I’m trying to rush things to that point.

    Reply

    Mary — oh — you got it! What a great start.

    Mary — I know you share some on our Facebook book page, but since your need is so great and many do are not on that page, could you us an update on your cancer?

    Reply

    oh Mary – you have laid out the conundrum SO well!  Thanks for this entry that I feel certain so many of us can relate to!  I have had friends and been in ministry with believers who clearly have the  spiritual gift of evangelism….and I listen with jaw dropping amazement as they so easily say things that would sound so awkward coming out of my mouth.  There is an ease and a natural way of sharing the gospel, speaking of Jesus, that I envy.  Of course we are all called to share the gospel, just as we’re all called to hospitality, etc…..even if that is not our particular spiritual gift!  And we can learn from one another – as we are doing here!!!   I really do think that your last few sentences show the Lord growing your heart for Him!  We can ALL grow every day we are on this earth as “engaged, active listener(s)”.  So your words leave me with a great question – Dee’s introduced it so well for us here! – what does it mean to be an “engaged, active listener?”.  I’m excited to see what this week’s journey together will reveal for us all!  :)  

      Reply

      Jackie — I have noticed what a good listener you are on this blog!

        Dee-I second that!!

        Ha!  I third that!!

      Reply

      I cannot resist I fourth that:)

    Reply

    Mary-yes with non-christians I too am not so good at hearing the message behind the message. Your post is so good for it lays out some thoughtful insight for our study and I believe hearing the message behind the message is so good. I too lack in leading profuse,  shallow conversation into meaningful, guided conversation that leads to spiritual talk. 

    Reply

    Mary,  You nailed it:  “the message behind the message.”  Listen to their hearts.  This helps address one of my current challenges:  listening to people who have been burned in similar ways I have.  I can listen to other people’s hearts — when I TRY — but I shut down when listening to a few others.Even if I am completely silent, listening is an active process.  Maybe one of the reasons it is so painful to “listen” to others with similar struggles is that I am focusing on my own situation rather than really listening.   THANK YOU!

      Reply

      I can also relate to this, Renee:  “Even if I am completely silent, listening is an active process.  Maybe one of the reasons it is so painful to “listen” to others with similar struggles is that I am focusing on my own situation rather than really listening.”
      So true.  I can be silent and “listening” and yet not fully engaged in the other person.  

    Reply

    Oh, Mary e, LOVE your lead here. I too listen a lot but am awkward about guiding shallow conversation to meaningful, spiritual conversation. Thanks so much. Yes, how to I become an engaged active listener who asks meaningful questions?

    Reply

    Mary, I also identify with not being skilled at directing conversations towards more meaningful or even spiritual discussions! You really hit a “hot button” as I see so many replied in the same way!

Reply

1.  What stands out to you from the above and why?
 
The stunning photo of the campfire on the water!  Though we don’t live on the water, autumn here on the farm is high season for campfires…..and I LOVE them…..and the way they invite folks to slow down, gather round and be real.  There seem to be so many beloved unbelievers in my life who love a good campfire too – this simple photo spurred me on to anticipate the coming campfires here this fall!!  :)  
 
Also…..to reflect that Jesus, our Jesus, the human man with the most profound words ever uttered…..listened well.  He asked questions.  Great questions.  I am thinking of the wonderful song by Phillips, Craig and Dean called “Let My Words Be Few”.  (Easily googled on YouTube, this song is a great song of love to Jesus!  :)  )

    Reply

    Oh Jackie, would LOVE to be sitting by a campfire with you right now!!! I love everything about the, the smell, the crackling sounds, the way the melt a marshmallow. ;)  I have often said that I hope in heaven I can have an outdoor fireplace at my house and I’ll invite people over all the time. :D  (Open door policy.)  
    And I love your point about Jesus “…the human with the most profound words ever uttered…listened well.”  He is the sweetest Friend ever, isn’t He?!

Reply

What stands out to you from the above and why?
This is amazing because this is what I have been asking God to help me with. I am SO prone to listen to reply-even if there needs not to be a reply due to the awkwardness in the moment. Maybe they just want me to listen and understand and later they may come back to talk more.
I love that when we listen to understand rather than to reply people feel loved. David Augsberger’s quote is enlightening. I want to be a woman of understanding able to draw out deeper waters of the heart and the beauty is that His Spirit inside can help me! and as Dee said-the more I embrace His affection for me and Grace toward me the more I will take my eyes off myself and onto others. 

    Reply

    Amen, Rebecca. I’ve been catching myself “Don’t listen to reply.” And yes — Amen to the Augsburger quote!

      Reply

      Dee-me too and even in a conversation yesterday with Patrick. He just wanted me to understand and even told me that but inside I was dying to reply..I had to tell myself to really listen to understand. It is so hard when I have what I think are helpful “answers” in my head as he speaks. :)

        :-)

        Role reversal! It’s usually the left brained males that have to be told you want empathy and not solutions!

        OH yes-with us it is role reversal in most things..He cries easily in movies and I don’t. In our pre-marriage counseling he tested as a feeler and me as the other-I recall it is thinker-so our pastor told me to handle the finances. ;~) It is an interesting dynamic between us. He tends to be the hugger-affectionate one and I tend not to be-even with my dear friends, but I am learning to be. I was told once by a friend that I don’t know how to hug. So see, I have a LONG way to go but He is faithful! 

        “Dying to reply”. Yes, indeed, Rebecca. I feel that way so many times-the excitement of sharing a reply. :-)

        Bing-lol-yes, the excitement of sharing a reply! :)))) 

    Reply

    Rebecca, praise God for this! “…and the beauty is that His Spirit inside can help me!”  otherwise we would be helpless to get this right!

Reply

I really like this topic Dee, look forward to learning from this lesson!
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
I really desire to be one who listens well, who remembers what was shared, and is fully “there”. I truly enjoy hearing others hearts, I crave that deep level communication and would rather sit and soak up in listening than muddy the time with my thoughts! But where I tire is the path it sometimes takes to get there…the surface talk is much harder for me to listen to. 
The quote from David Augsberger: “Being listened to is so close to being loved that most people cannot tell the difference.” I very much relate to that. I have just a few people in my life, who really seem to want to listen—and yet, when they fail, as we all do, it surprises me how deeply it hurts. That’s conviction for me, to strive to listen well, and keep giving grace when those around me fail to. 
 

    Reply

    Lizzy- being “fully there”..loved that because it is so true. I can’t count how many times I am not fully there because I am thinking about my own concerns, and to partake in listening to surfacy things all the time drives me nuts. I tend to think staying on the surface and not going deep is an idol in our culture with us and with unbelievers too. Unbelievers don’t want to come across as needy or hurting when deep inside they are. We don’t want to be honest about our brokenness and how He is our refuge because we think being salt and light is being perfect in morailty rather than loving them in putting their needs above ours. 
    BUT I just had a thought-that there might be a good thing about surfacy things..hmmm..maybe it is a way God gets us connected and down to the roots inside? I will never forget as a new believer in the back seat of the car with my mom and her sister in the front talking about a relative’s porcelin doll collection and why they like and don’t like them for 30 minutes! I mean there was so much creation to see-to wonder over as we drove for we were in the mountains. I was going nuts in the back seat and so instead of engaging I went deep fast and there was no response. :~)  I have SO much to learn from Him!! :)))

    Reply

    “the surface talk is much harder for me to listen to”  -That is hard for me too, Lizzy!  Love this whole post

Reply

2. In Philippians 2:1, Paul gives four “if’s” to remind us of ways Christ has loved us. Take one of those “if’s” and give an illustration of how Christ has loved you. (This is a bit of a challenge — so I will start and you can follow.)
If any affection and sympathy: Like Dee there have been times I have created my own mess and He has shown me Grace and gotten me out of it. There have been times I feel unloved and taken advantage of and truly an alien here yet He takes me to The Song and took me to the woman at the well and reminded me of Him knowing every ugly thread of me before I knew Him and of course still now and yet He loves me, is intimately engaged in my every moment of every day drawing out my waters inside. He truly listens to me with understanding so that He can draw out my waters-so I am finding myself turning to Him more each day with each worry or concern and I want to grow in that. 

Reply

Oh and another thing. I HONESTLY have to tell you what I do when unbelievers are talking to me and especially if it is a problem as a result of their folly. I judge in my head yet act sympathetic. Yikes! I absolutely HATE that about me but I know He knows and I am asking Him to change that sin in me. I forget that He saw me yet wanted me and poured His Grace all over me-I forget the woman at the well. I forget that deep down they are scared and hurting and run to things that fill that hurt like I did before Jesus and like I am still so prone to do! So there-I got it out. :) 

    Reply

    Rebecca, this is a good reminder for all of us!  I do the same thing at times, thinking…”well, you got yourself into that mess!”  He has really been dealing with me lately in the area of not sitting as Judge.  Yes, we can observe some cause and effect, but, especially when it comes to non-Christians, we should only be surprised when they make good decisions, since they have no power or or true wisdom with which to operate from.

      Reply

      Mary-yes so true! What helps me is to remember He had every right to condemn me but instead He willingly let Himself be condemned on the cross for me and gave Himself up for me.  That makes it hard for me to condemn others. :))

        Wow, yes, that is a good perspective.  Good thing to remind myself of also.

    Reply

    Rebecca I think you were in my head:) UGH is it ugly when I do that too. That is why I love the reminders of where the Lord has taken me from and sometimes that is a honest and safe way to get the conversations going deeper when we share. Lately I have really been trying to pray on the spot for them which takes the place of the judging.

      Reply

      Liz, What cracks me up about myself is I have NO Right to judge-seriously.  It isn’t like I haven’t made bad decisions or mistakes and it certainly isn’t as if I stopped sinning after I came to know Him. :)) Good point about using that as a way to go deeper. 

        I so love this rich conversation between Rebecca , Mary and  Liz!!! Renecca- you set  the stage so well with your  honesty in how hard it can be to take every thought captive to Christ when in the heat of the conversational moment- who of us has not been there??  Liz got it right when she said you got inside our ( her!) heads!!!  You all flushed out some great reminders and ponder points in your dialog – helpful indeed!  ?

Reply

1.  What stands out/why
Listening and stories.   I’m okay at listening, but I think I sometimes have abused listening so that I don’t have to talk.  After having people say, after a couple of hours together, that “oh my, I’ve done all the talking; tell me what’s happening with you,” I also began to use deep listening as a tool to avoid sharing about myself.  Where I struggle in listening is when the same people share the same complaints over and over — AND I agree because I’ve had similar experiences.  Life is pretty unfair and crazy around here, and numerous people have been burned.  For me, it took therapy to get past current stuff because it tied into similar dynamics from the past.  I recently had a last-minute coffee with someone who hasn’t let go of the complaints after many years.  It’s so evident she needs Jesus, but I was stunned into silence.
 I’ve begun studying the structure of good stories so that I can share with more impact.  Would like to spend more time camping out in that area (eventually!)

    Reply

    Renee:  I love that you are pursuing understanding and using good structure in sharing your story.   You do have so much to share… I really want to be on the listening side of this!  My husband has voiced the same.   He has a lot to tell, but constantly, when he hears a really good communicator tell their story, he wants to go back and learn how to share with more impact.    You will get there!  And the next time I’m with you  (it’s been way too long)  I’m going to keep my mouth shut more often and not let you remain silent.  ;)   just kidding…..but I know the feeling of talking way too much around you!  I considered it my over-using the privilege of having you listen to me.  

      Reply

      Wanda, haha    Sometimes I stay silent or isolated so long that I unload on some poor cashier — but a lot of the time, I really don’t have much to say, even though the wheels still are turning ;)

    Reply

    Love the line about “stunned into silence.” Oh my gosh I know that feeling…

    Reply

    Renee!  I really like how you dig into the motives behind our “listening”.  Even “good” listening can be a smokescreen for not being willing to share our own stuff.  I am SO thankful that God uses us even in our weakness!!  Especially in conversations with those we don’t know well I think our quietness is ok….for others DO love to talk about themselves and sense such a welcome in a listener who is all   About getting to know them!  But I know what you mean about that “aha!” Moment when another senses that they have talked too much …I think the love of Christ compels us to be ready to share from our hearts at that moment!  To refuse to share then seems very unloving and leaves another soul dreadfully exposed.  We don’t have to overshare and overwhelm …but we do have to offer something genuine of ourselves I think.  If we don’t overthink it I would hope that Jesus would be the salt and light in that moment!  Thinking on salt…..how it creates thirst just by a sprinkling!!  ❤️

Reply

2. In Philippians 2:1, Paul gives four “if’s” to remind us of ways Christ has loved us. Take one of those “if’s” and give an illustration of how Christ has loved you.
 
Well, this certainly is appropriate after my last answer!:  “if there is any encouragement in Christ.”  He has been with me, encouraged me consistently, directly through His Spirit and through others.  Hmmm… how can I do that to those who are stuck?

    Reply

    Your transparency is always refreshing, Renee.

Reply

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?      The first thing that jumped out was that Jesus practiced hospitality even though He didn’t have a home.  I had never put that together so clearly before.  What an inspiration.  We can be hospitable in a waiting room,  at a park,  in a crowd….anywhere there are people to meet, to listen to and to help or encourage.     Second:   I like the emphasis on an invitation for a ‘simple meal’ and some planned discussion questions.   That’s actually so much what happens at our ALPHA groups.  It’s a concerted effort, so others are cooking the food and we have both a large group and small group time and it meets at church…..but seeing you, Dee, modeling this in your home makes it so clear to me, what a good plan this is.    And I’m so drawn to the two quotes:  ‘Listen to understand, not to reply’   and   “being listened to is so close to being loved that most people can’t tell the difference”. 

I just remembered an observation this summer at a baseball game. An elderly man in front of us had difficulty walking and used a cane. The much younger man, two seats down engaged him in conversation, they found that they knew people in common and he offered to go get him his hotdog and beverage. They kept visiting throughout the whole game….and it was so heartwarming. The younger man even told him that he had recently lost his father and it was clear that he was reaching out to this man with the respect he had for the father he had lost. So sweet to see.

    Reply

    I added the above story at the end of my comment when I remembered it…..because it’s such a good example of being hospitable at a place outside of your home.  

      Reply

      Wanda- SO glad the Lord prompted you to share that story about the young man and the old man at the game!  It does so perfectly illustrate hospitality outside of the home.  Doesn’t it just about make your heart burst with joy to be able to witness these moments?  Seems like s kiss from the King to me!!  

    Reply

    Yes — that seems to be part of the secret of the great success of Alpha!

    Sweet sweet story.

    Reply

    Oh, how sweet, Wanda! This story is very heartwarming.

    Reply

    Wanda-so good to hear about your Alpha groups! And such a sweet story-yes a great example of being hospitable outside your home!

Reply

I love David Augsbsrger’s statement…”Being listened to is so close to being loved that most people can’t tell the difference.”  So true!!

Reply

So here is the update Dee had mentioned adding (on the cancer/health situation.)  I was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer (spread to MULTIPLE bones-ribs, vertebrae, bones that make up the shoulders and hips/pelvis) as well as my left eye 2 years and 3 months ago.  My original diagnosis with breast cancer (stage 2b) was 13 years ago yesterday.  At that time I did all the “big gun” treatments:  “dose- dense chemo, surgery, radiation, pills…  (People often ask me “when are you going to start treatment ?”- because I have hair they think I’m not currently in treatment.)  When breast cancer recurs they do not immediately do chemo.  It is not considered curable when it spreads to other areas of the body, so they start out with the least harsh treatments at first, so I’ve been on a pill to suppress the amount of estrogen produced by my fat cells  (in a round about kind of way.)  I have been taking this one particular pill for a little over a year now and it has kept me stabilized thus far.  However, for about three weeks now I have had pretty severe pain returning to my vertebrae, ribs, hips, shoulders.  This could mean the disease if no longer responding to the pill I’m on, and is now progressing.  It could mean something else???  The way they determine this is mostly through running scans and lab work.  I had a MRI of my neck (cervical spine) on Friday (because that is the worst area of pain for me right now) and I also had labs drawn.  I don’t have an appointment with my oncologist until the 12th of Oct but I have an appointment with my PCP tomorrow and I had the labs sent to her as well, so I’m hoping and praying that at least by this time tomorrow I will have some answers as to what is happing in this body of mine.  I am pretty bad about not wanting to take pain meds, it makes me feel like a failure somehow, I wonder if God is okay with it, wonder if it means I’m “giving in to the disease.”  Friday night (into Sat morning) I was awake till 3am because I waited so long to take the pain pill and I told God I just felt so broken and I sensed He was saying “REST my baby, just REST.”  So, I’m feeling like maybe I need to just take the meds and leave the analysis of all of it in His hands.  Analyzing everything gets exhausting, and I can better use that energy elsewhere (for all you over analyzes out there, I know you can relate.)  I want to include this link in here for anyone who wants to take a look.  It is super short, but very informative explanation of stage 4 breast cancer.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDQ0FjP7J-c You will see that the woman in it looks like the picture of health.  She was dead 8 months after making this.  If you saw me in person right now you would never guess I had stage 4 cancer, you can go along quite well with this diagnosis for a few years.  A tiny percentage of women (2%) survive longterm (as in over 10 years, some even more than 20,) but most are dead before 5 years.  Thank the Lord I never have to worry about that!  I just want to finish well, whether that is in 10 months or 10 years.  I know I’m not alone in that.  May we all finish well, by His grace and mercy!
Also, please know that in no way do I believe I have the corner on the market on hardships.  I could name so many on here with children who have walked away from the Lord, those whose kids have cancer, etc… we are all in this fallen world mess together and it’s not easy for anyone but, as my precious younger brother used to remind me (before he died) “Mary, for the Christian this life is as bad as things will ever get, for the non-Christian, this life is as good as things will ever get.”  All the more reason for learning how to reach to them!  

    Reply

    Mary, Thank you for sharing your update on your health and educating us about stage 4 breast cancer.  The video was very good, too.  I appreciate how realistic your perspective is.  When I watched the video, I saw a line-up of other videos, some that likely weren’t too helpful (i.e., how to get a miracle cure through alternative approaches).  And I especially appreciate your use of the phrase “finish well.”  I’ve been using that a lot lately.  Will continue to pray for your peace and strength during this time.  Yes, buy His grace, may we all finish well.  <3

      Reply

      Ha! YES!  Everyone has some alternative thing they have heard of and want you to try.  I do some “alternative” things but I’m pretty choosy.  I drink carrot juice because actual research (but so far on mice only) has shown a substance in carrots (falcarinol -sp?) to have strong anti tumor activity.  Besides that I just try to consume lots of antioxidants in my diet.  But, you could go broke trying all the things people mention to you!    
      Another video by Holley Kitchen (in that line up) she tells that she found out here med had stopped working and she looks less well.  I think she was a Believer, based on some posts I was on her FB page, thank the Lord!

    Reply

    Mary,   Thank you for your tender, authentic, encouraging words here.   Your courage is contageous.

    Reply

    Oh, dear Mary e, you are going through so much. Yet you hold onto hope. And what a wonderful quote from your brother! How can we best pray for you?

      Reply

      For His comfort, for healing, for Him to use this for His glory, just as the Lord brings it to your mind, Diane, not as a burden.  Thanks so much.  I know I am lifted up on a daily basis, by one person or another and I sense that.

        Thanks so much for sharing, Mary. Let us know about what the lab tests show. Thanks for telling us how to pray. He is bringing you to mind!

        Mary, thanks for the update. I will check out the youtube-I am interested to incorporate it into my class of 34 kids! Your testimony is heartwarming to me as it is to so many of us here. Finish well-we can all be reminded of that. And to Him be the glory!

        Dear Mary,Thank you for being so open with us, your blog sisters. I am and will continue to lift you up in prayer and I know that your life is being lived for His glory. You inspire me and I know you are reaching many even as you continue to learn to listen for the message below the words spoken…
        Praying also for each decision you make.

    Reply

    Oh Mary! You are truly a warrior! I loved meeting you at the conference a couple of years ago and thank you for the update. I too take a med that suppresses my estrogen because my stage 1 cancer (diagnosed in 2013) was fed by estrogen. I have many side effects, and the worst is being hot all the time! So, I understand a tiny bit, about what you are going through. I too have extreme joint pain these days, however is it because I have danced 46 years? Is it the medicine? Or, is it a spread of cancer…maybe that 1 little cell got loose after surgery? I don’t know. I have had a bone scan for my hip back in July because I had an injury a year ago there and it still hurt 1.5 yrs later. I had given up running but it still pained. All was ok. I guess the thing I have done is just believed that God has the plan and I don’t need to worry about it. I thank Him for all of you and Dee, because this blog had gotten me through a lot! Hang in there sweetie! Praying for good results tomorrow!

    Reply

    Mary, I just wanted you to know that you are a blessing to me through your posts, and now through knowing more of your story.  The grace of our Lord Jesus shines through you.  I’m a nurse practitioner, and I’ve often thought that cancer brings out a special beauty in some people.  Praying for you. 

      Reply

      Miriam, it is good to know you are a nurse, too. I do agree with you. Cancer as hard as it sounds and looks does indeed bring out a special beauty in some people. Godly beauty I would call it and even though I have not met Mary E. I can envision her beauty just from reading her posts. :-)

    Reply

    Oh Mary thank you so much for your update. Your words; all I can say are GODS AMAZING GRACE. I saw that amazing grace in a dear friends last few weeks in her battle and I will never say she lost her battle. In Christ to die is Gain. She won and she had such peace and the Lord provided the grace in the midst of it. It was life changing for me to watch. I miss her presence in this world but look forward to seeing her in heaven.

    Reply

    Mary, Thank you for this background and update. Your faith inspires me so.  I love what your brother said-“Mary, for the Christian this life is as bad as things will ever get, for the non-Christian, this life is as good as things will ever get.” 
    Lord thank you for Mary and for how she is living out her trust and dependence on you and for how you are shining through her to encourage us all. You came to her in the night singing over her, comforting her-thank you and we ask that you would strengthen her and help her as she goes through this pain. We cry out for her that you would give her relief and that she would have an answer today. Thank you for making her beautiful.  

    Reply

    Mary, as a nurse who works in oncology and used to work in hospice I am compelled to say that there are no medals given for bearing pain.  If you were diabetic, would you take insulin?  The pain meds are not a failure, they are something to help you function.  I pray that you would feel God’s grace in this and know that it is OK to take what you need.  And I pray that His arms would surround you, giving you peace, strength, endurance and hope.  I pray that He would give you clarity of vision, not just for today, but for the big picture.  May His love so envelope you that the cancer is a little thing only.

      Reply

      Thank you Mary B.  Crazy thing is…I’m a nurse practitioner!  When I was a new nurse I worked oncology for a couple years and would tell patients, “Take the meds!!! Don’t let the pain get out of control!!”  I’m just super sensitive to medications and don’t like so many things about them (feeling drowsy, depressed, etc…) but I do see benefit in being able to sleep at night!  Thank you for your input here.  It is a good reminder!  And God bless your work as a nurse, Mary.  I know hospital nursing is very high stress.

Reply

Oh Mary..….your explanation as well as the way you’ve shared your heart here is so very profound.   And so moving.  You have analyzed well!  Not referring to your physical questions….but to your last paragraph.   We are deeply blessed to learn from you.  I feel like I’ve been so out of the loop (my fault) when it comes to keeping up with your journey.  And I’m so glad you’ve clarified and shared all of this.   Sending love to you and I will re-commence praying for you, dear one.   

    Reply

    I’ve remove myself from the loop a bit at times, Wanda!  Sorry!  And no pressure to pray, just as the Lord brings it to mind, I know everyone has lengthily lists of those we are praying for.  I have felt very loved by this group of women!

Reply

Mary.  Your sharing your life here with us means so much to me.  I did take a few moments to go and pray for you the words of Colossians 1…..God’s own powerful words of life that see us through and help us to finish well.  You have shared that hearts desire of yours with us before…to finish well.  And you will Mary.  For He will complete His good work in you (Phil 1:6), as we spoke of last week when sharing this verse together.  You don’t know how many times I’ve prayed for a “Mary” in my daughter’s life!  :)  Perhaps He will yet bring someone just like you in heart love for Jesus her way!  Meanwhile I continue to cheer you on from afar…..as you run your race in Him….and you continue to give so much.  Most recently I have LOVED praying for my neighbors via the tool that you brought to our attention here!  On the surface, the things you have shared about where you are on the cancer journey appear dire.  But you are no surface living woman Mary!  You are showing us more of who Christ is as He walks with you through the fire…..and He has made you a beautiful woman indeed.   

Reply

From Wednesday night to last night, I attended a virtual conference during the times I could be away from work.  Yesterday, I heard a speaker make a comment, though not the main point of his presentation, that we often want to “help” people, to assist them in getting what they want.  But what we and they don’t know is that what they want (e.g., “success”) isn’t God’s story for them.  He is taking stuff/distractions away from them so that they can be in relationship with Him, be conformed into the likeness of Jesus.  This also helps explain to me why listening often is more powerful than advice.  The presenter said what he said in one sentence.  I couldn’t quite do that because I had to unpack it for my brain!!

Reply

3. Because of these things, what does Paul ask of us in Philippians 2:2-4?
I almost skipped this question because I wasn’t liking verse 4 very much.  When I saw v 4 in the image above, I thought “yuck, I need a nap!”.  I had lunch with someone today and was trying to apply what I read here early this morning; it drained me. And reading the verse drained me even more.  I decided to actually look up the passage and that helped :)  It helped to read vs 3 & 4 together with the “if” phrases and “make my joy complete by….” in vs 1 and 2.   It’s easier to respond with love for others by remembering what Jesus has done for me.  “For the love of Christ compels us.”

Some people wear me out more than others.  Last week, a friend and I were discussing death; it didn’t phase me then, and I had forgotten about it until I read this.  I really could be more intentional about seeking God’s leading in those discussions.  But, with others, a normal conversation over lunch takes the sap out of me.  I didn’t realize I was tired until I read verse 4!  Maybe I will take part of v 3 out of context and “do nothing” (take a nap).

Reply

1. What stands out to you from the above and why? Ugh! The conviction! I sometimes feel like it’s a conspiracy (lol). The blog, my pastor’s sermons, the topic of almost every Christian program that I’ve listened to lately is about evangelism or reaching out to others on a deeper level.
I know I can’t do it in my own strength so I’m waiting for the Lord to give me the “want to”, but I’m beginning to wonder if I truly don’t want to and that this is disobedience and rebellion on my part. :(
 
 

    Reply

    I can relate, Dawn, lately the Lord is bring this topic ever in front of me as well!  So glad, though, that through this venue we are getting some practical help!

    Reply

    a Divine conspiracy  :-)

    Reply

    Hah, a divine conspiracy, indeed! :-) Yes, Dawn. Praying for the “want to” for me as well.

      Reply

      I like this idea: divine conspiracy! Yes, I sense it too!
      I do so want to get better at the listening part as well as questions to draw others out.

Reply

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
 
Listening is soooo hard for me. Don’t get me wrong, I do listen, but I fear that I don’t listen as you are suggesting. I fear silence in a room; it makes me uncomfortable! Plus, I am a communicator. I like to talk! I can’t help it; it’s who I am and how God made me. So, I’m not really that excited about this component of the study. I don’t think I can succeed with it ?, but I suppose I will try.

    Reply

    Laura-d, Just carry around a jar of peanut butter and nab a spoonful if there are listening opportunities  ;)

      Reply

      Renee you make me smile:)

      Reply

      Lol!!

    Reply

    Lol I’m the opposite, I can listen all day and I am very comfortable with silence as long as there are no expectations from others in the room.

    Reply

    Hi Laura! May I ask you a question? What makes you uncomfortable about silence in a room? Just trying to learn here. I am sure you are not alone in that.

      Reply

      Liz, I don’t know why it makes me uncomfortable, but I literally get a pit in my stomach and start to sweat! I get squirmy in my seat too. It’s as if I know that something is missing and I need to cut the silence. It happens mostly in small group settings or one on one. Weird, I know. Maybe a control idol thing?

        Laura thanks for sharing. Maybe over time the Lord will show you. I know I have a few things I am looking for some answers to about myself. Believing He will show me

Reply

What stands out to you from the above and why? It was the quote on listening being the closest thing to love. That is a keeper I will share but more importantly remind myself. I LOVE going deep and taking conversations deeper. I sometimes wonder if people are afraid of me for that reason:) I had lunch with my sister in law a couple weeks ago and she sent me a note saying she could have continued talking to me all day.(the feeling was mutual) That encouraged me and gave me hope, not to mention another lunch date with her again soon. I know I have certain people I really NEED to practice being a better listener with. Looking forward to this weeks study.

    Reply

    You and I are alike that way — and it is so nice to get encouragement.

    Reply

    LIz, I love that quote, too. I want to find things to show love to others. Some of my loved ones are pretty comfortable financially-often hard to find a gift around birthdays or holidays. But loving through listening-what a gift that all of them can use!!!

Reply

2. In Philippians 2:1, Paul gives four “if’s” to remind us of ways Christ has loved us. Take one of those “if’s” and give an illustration of how Christ has loved you. (This is a bit of a challenge — so I will start and you can follow.)
 
I will take the “any encouragement” bit…a few weeks ago I was struggling with a social issue at school. We had just started the year and I was hit with a challenge right away. I prayed to God to guide me through because I felt that if I gave in to what the society wanted me to do, I would be turning my back on my own faith and values. I prayed and waited (mind you I was on a time table and needed a quick response!). A few days passed and I was watching Veggietes with my grandson. Our church has a membership  with an online site called “Right Now Media” and I just randomly selected one show. It happened to be the story of Daniel; how he stood up for himself no matter the consequences! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing; mouth wide open, jaw on floor! Then two days later it was reconfirmed when a friend at church and I started talking about my school year and without telling her about the Daniel occurrence, she started telling me the story of Daniel and her family situation. I was convicted that I needed to stand up for my own values. I did, all though I still had to conform, my boss knows exactly where I am in this journey. I will continue to stand up for Him no matter the consequences. How encoraging! Thank you Lord.

    Reply

    Great illustration!

    Reply

    Should be Veggietales!

Reply

1.   What stands out to you from the above and why?
Jesus did not have a home but HE practiced hospitality. I often think I have to have a spotless home, just the right dishes and lots of entertaining space! Home is not necessarily a physical place but an environment created to offer freedom, safe haven and perhaps rest for the soul of the one who we have the accompany of. Best times for Richard and I and a couple of friends are meal times and time in the car driving to some place!
 
I so agree with Mary E. I struggle how to ask questions (thank you, Dee for what you are about to share!) I don’t want to feel rushed into asking and neither for the other person to feel the same to answer. Indeed listening is an art. In a world where being busy, harried and hurried is almost exalted, I need to take time to slow down. Drawing out somebody from the “deep waters” take time and I feel like I am too busy to do just that!
Just warmed right now by listening to Audrey Assad’ s Slow https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_dc3yP8nBc “God’s love moves slow” Let love move in slow. ..Faith is not a fire but a glow..

    Reply

    Oh love Audrey!

    Reply

    Good application of Audrey’s song SLOW.   That one has burned into my heart when I’ve listened.  I will listen again today!  

Reply

One praise and one still unknown for now:
The MRI of the cervical vertebrae still shows NO CANCER in that area!!!  Lots of arthritis/degenerative disc disease (but nearly everyone over 40 has some of that.)  She is thinking the neck pain may be mostly muscular, from tensing up due to the other pain (where the cancer is.)  She prescribed a muscle relaxer.  
Unfortunately, she did not have the lab results yet and said she’d rather me call the oncologist’s office for that information anyway, since the oncologist is the one who ordered it.  I had a feeling she might say that but was certainly holding out hope that I could squeeze them out of her.  I did put in a call with the oncologist and hopefully they will get back to me later today.
Thanks SOOO much to everyone for your prayers.  It is a HUGE relief to know the cancer is not in the cervical vertebrae (that can create a very dangerous situation.)  Hopefully will know even more soon.

    Reply

    Hallelujah, Mary! Will you go on your trip do you think?

    Reply

    So great to hear your MRI report! Mary  What a relief.   Praying for peace as you wait for the rest of the news.  

    Reply

    Praise God!

    Reply

    Mary, Yipee for 1; praying about 2

    Reply

    Mary I am dancing  on the table!!!! yay!

      Reply

      :-)  Sara Groves lyrics so in your head, Rebecca. But yes,
      Yet now we must weep for Mary has had the bad news that her tumor has grown.

Reply

2. In Philippians 2:1, Paul gives four “if’s” to remind us of ways Christ has loved us. Take one of those “if’s” and give an illustration of how Christ has loved you. (This is a bit of a challenge — so I will start and you can follow.)      
From the NIV:  “If any comfort from His love…..”    How could I begin to measure the comfort I have received from the love of Jesus?  It has been my life long experience to know, without question that my Creator and Redeemer does truly love me.  I think of the profound words in the song,  The Love of God……
 
.”Oh LOVE of God!  How rich and pure, how measureless and strong.   It shall forevermore endure the saints and angels song….”
If we with ink the oceans filled
And were the skies of parchment made
Were every stalk on earth a quill 
And every man, a scribe by trade:
To write the LOVE of God above
Would drain the oceans dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky!  
 
So when I even begin to ponder the depths of Jesus’ love for me, I ought to be compelled to comfort others with it.  The first thought I have when I hear the word, ‘comfort’ is to come alongside someone who has suffered a loss.  And that is true.  But it is also a more encompassing term.  I looked it up to get a concise meaning.   
Comfort:  “the easing or alleviation of a person’s feelings of grief or distress.”              That definition convicts me to be more intentional about coming alongside those who are in any sort of uneasiness;  maybe they are worried about a job,  maybe frustrated about circumstances,  maybe just feeling ‘icky’ inside,  maybe feeling out of place and ‘uncomfortable’ in the foyer at church,  maybe feeling lonely as they spend yet another day without another person to talk to all day long…….   So many common and real instances around me.  All of the above I took from observations of the past 24 hours actually.    “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace”  And Your comfort.  Through Your love.  Amen.

    Reply

    Wanda- I love where you went with the word “comfort”!  You have given us a real life illustration of what 2 Corinthians 1: 3&4 might look like in the framework of an ordinary 24 hour day.   I believe that your eyes to see all that you saw came directly from the Father of mercies and God of all comfort!  It excites me afresh to remember that when God comes to me in an intimacy unlike anything else experienced….even in that moment…the comfort that I am soaking up like a sponge is not for me alone but is to be “squeezed” out of me so that others may soak in His comfort also!  

Reply

what stood out to me the most is how I have stopped doing this. I used to host a Bible study in my home all the time. I would have other moms of younger children come and get a babysitter or other homeschoolers. As my kids got older I started leading Bible studies with college students and then that stopped and I have kinda just dropped out of everything. working at chick-fil-a, homeschooling my youngest, babysitting a 6 month old, the two weddings, getting our house ready to sell so we can downsize and move into a safer school district….I have let life just overtake me and I have put serving others and studying HIS word on the back burner and I HATE it! I fell off a chair and hurt my foot over two weeks ago. I am in a boot and pt. I wonder if God is trying to slow me down and re-focus me! 
I am not a good listener! I am a fixer and so i listen with the  “how can I help this person get better” mentalily! YUCK!! I am hoping to get better at starting good conversations and love the list of questions Dee has. Im wondering if there is a good resource for more ideas like this. I never know how to start good conversations and would love to get better at this!
how dear you all are to me. I have loved reading all your posts and catching up with you. 

Reply

2. If any comfort from HIS love.
It has been such a season of letting go, change and loss. no one has died but so many of my relationships have changed. Im very thankful that Paul and I’s relationship has grown better! I have needed to find comfort in my relationship with JESUS. I have found such comfort in knowing that HE will never change, no matter how much changes. After I got hurt I reached out to many friends for help. only one responded….  out of 10. our house was half painted, the pool needed closed, many things half done that I cant do in a boot. no one came. Paul has done so much on his own and I feel so bad for him. sitting and watching things not be done has been like torture for me! BUT God knows how to care for my heart and as I have gone to him with my hurt of feeling abandoned by my friends He has reminded me that HE is enough. The house will be ready when HE wants it ready and I just need to WAIT for HIS timing. I have recieved MUCH COMFORT FROM HIS LOVE :-)
bonus, letting my husband take care of everything has been good for our relationship! 

    Reply

    Cyndi – your post was very meaningful to me.  “a season of letting go, change and loss.”  I was thinking again how we as the Body of Christ are to be functioning together always….a true team in the best sense of the word….and we fail miserably so often.  :(  My heart hurt to see you reaching out to 10 people – and having one respond….I just could not help but think of Jesus healing the 10 lepers – and only one returned to give Him thanks!  He really DID experience, in a very daily, ordinary way the casual dismissal we humans are SO prone to.  In a season of intense grief a few years ago I did have a few friends just disappear…go off the radar…..and when they returned they said they just didn’t know what to say, what to do.  Others stuck with me but tried so VERY hard to “fix” me or to get me back on my feet…..”moving on” being the goal – it’s just more comfortable that way!  And then there’s me.  OH the times I should have, could have, stepped up to the plate and I let fear or discomfort or my own agenda keep me away from a hurting sister.  To my shame.  But I love, love, love your sense of the comfort of His love!!  Like no other.  And often experienced most deeply it seems…..when we feel abandoned and alone and misunderstood within our human circle.  It’s so often in this place of desolation that we find “your love is better than wine” (Song of Songs 1:2).  That would seem to be your story here.  Thanks so much for the encouragement!

      Reply

      Oh Jackie this response brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for taking the time 2 be a friend on this blog. 2toExpress you  understanding.and sympathy! Two other friends responded and have come over to help which has kept me from getting on this blog and seeing this answer up until now. My best friend finally had time to come help me and when my ankle got too sore to continue we sat down and have a good time. She reminded me that I need to give myself Grace and time. Thank you thank you thank you for being so kind. Learning to sew down a bit and to let myself REST and FEEL instead of run has been a hard lesson.

Reply

Well, the news on the tumor marker is not as good.  It has risen by 92 points.  This could mean the disease is progressing and we’ll have to look at other treatment options. (In fact, I’m almost certain this is what it means, based on how I have been feeling, but I hope I’m wrong.)  Now I’m uncertain about what to do in terms of a trip I was going to take to see my brother in GA.  I’m scheduled for a full body bone scan next Monday and to see the oncologist next Wed (the 12th) but this is a big rise for me (normally I have never gone up by more than 20 points or so from one check to the next, every 6 weeks.)  It is upsetting news, but the Lord is still to be praised, independent of my circumstances. 

    Reply

    oh no, I’m scrolling down posts and just commented on your other one.  I’m so sorry, Mary.  Praying for God’s peace and encouragement for you — and thankful for your example of praising the Lord for who He is, even in very troubling times.

    Reply

    Praying for you, dear Mary…..and writing your initials on my hand like Lizzy does.  You are so loved, so appreciated and we will entrust you to the God of all comfort.  

    Reply

    Dear mary e, I just saw your earlier good report about the MRI and now the scarier one here. My heart aches for you. Praying, praying, dear one. 

    Reply

    I am praying for some good news in the midst of the storm Mary. He is with you and loves you more than anything.

    Reply

    Me too..was just excited and now..so sad Mary. Keep us posted and you can do so here. I don’t get to FB as much as I should. 

    Reply

    Mary.  I hear the anguish in your words.  “Waiting” is always one of the hardest places to be.  Last night I was driving for awhile and you stayed persistently upon my heart in prayer all throughout…I am trusting that our God will faithfully keep you lifted up through the coming days in the prayers of the body of Christ as He leads.  In my small group at church we are studying Philippians and this is the first verse of this week’s section : ” I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.”  This was such a zinger for me as I keep thinking “yes Lord…may it be so…”.  You have consistently expressed this same desire and I am praying fervently for you in this way… And please don’t miss Mary B’s ever so tender and WISE post on pain meds…from an oncology nurses perspective …very moving and on target.  

Reply

Thank you all for your prayers and words of encouragement.  Desperately needing to cling to Him and wait.  Full body bone scan on the 10th, appt with oncologist on the 12th.  

    Reply

    I know you have been covered here — we are so with you, dear one.

    Reply

    Mary I am so thankful you have the Lord and you are sharing your story here with what you are walking through so we know what we can pray. The power of prayer being lifted up for me when I knew many were praying was something that had a powerful impact on my life. Praying you continue to be encouraged as well.  This is so important for you.

Reply

1. What stands out….in neon foot high letters, that hospitality isn’t just about providing a meal and a place to meet.  It should be an opportunity for fine conversatio.  I need Dee’s questions and more like them!  We have people in a lot, but if there is a lull in the talk, I never have known what to do with it.  
 
2. The four ‘ifs’….tenderness and compassion.  Christ continually shows these to me as I manage to sin my way through every day, every encounter.  I used to think that with the right motivation and God helping me, I could keep from doing any overt sin.  Ha!  Now I realize that sin is like dust- it is constantly being made.  Praise God that He is forebearing with me.  It’s like He sees me as a small child and my sins evoke more compassion from Him.  I am eternally grateful!
 
5.  Prov 10:19. Wisdom is in those who hold their tongues, but many words promote sin.  While this is true, having nothing to say and staying silent doesn’t add any value to the interchange.  Note to self, don’t just quit talking, but learn how to prime the other person.
 
 

    Reply

    So glad you have people in a lot!

Reply

 
3. Because of these things, what does Paul ask of us in Philippians 2:2-4? 
 
We are to consider others even more so than ourselves. 
 
4. How could you apply verse 4 to the art of listening?
 
Definitely you could apply this verse to listening because you are listening to others more than speaking yourself. Oh how I tried so hard to listen to my friend and colleague about an issue she is having with our administration yesterday! I just had to interject with my own issues; to “support” her. I remembered that I was supposed to be listening so I shut up. But, it was so hard not to agree with astory of my own, that I pretty much failed at the listening. This was just a school related conversation, but these could lead to other more important conversations. She is my agnostic colleague/friend.
 

    Reply

    Seeing our mistakes is half the battle!

    Reply

    Laura something you said here struck me “But it was so hard not to agree with a with a story of my own”. I do that alot I think and I wonder how much a person feels listened to when I do that:( Not sure if what I am saying I do is the same as what you said here. I will be listening and then I will tell a story of my own instead of just being quiet and letting the other person talk or exchanging with them on what they were talking about. Something like that.
    And I will take what Dee said seeing our mistakes is half the battle:) The Lord will help us with the rest of the battle!

      Reply

      Yes Liz! That’s exactly it! ?

Reply

4. How could you apply verse 4 to the art of listening?
I like what Renee said-the Love of Christ compels us. I do think becoming  a good listener is a process and the more we rest in His love for us the more we live out verse 4 because He overflows in us and we are genuinely interested in others above ourselves so it won’t be so much  “work” for us to really care about the other person enough to truly listen. For me it starts at home and right now my life is very chaotic from time, to finances, to work and that is such a distraction from Him. In harder conversations with my boys I often don’t listen well and so I am looking at my heart and asking God to show me and root out those things that distract me from Him-mostly idols!  That said I have had some beautiful conversations with my husband and God is helping me to listen well with him but He has so much more rooting in me to do.

Reply

Yesterday, I was so tired that I had a hard time doing anything.  Today, I woke up thinking about Phil 2:1, the “if” verse (and I likely will thing of the verse as the “if” verse in the future) and praying for a good listening meeting today in a situation where it often is challenging.  The stamina and motivation for listening are not characteristics I can generate in my own strength — maybe more accurately, I can generate a little but my self-generated stamina isn’t sustainable and often has the wrong motives.
 
Obviously, I am not rushing through these questions ;)   When I first started to type now, I wrote that “yesterday, I was so tired that I was almost worthless.”  And, I deleted and started over.  Words do matter.  I can tell that He is at work in my heart — and sometimes that work in my heart occurs through slowing down my body.  So, okay, back to the passage and questions again.

Reply

Crazy comment:  One thing that did jump out at me right away on Sunday was Prov 20:5, regarding “deep waters.”  I am part of another group in which that is almost a theme verse.  And of all the goofy reactions, I felt defensive:  i.e., that verse belongs to that group :)     Sometimes I wonder if when I am tired, it’s easier to compartmentalize my life!

Reply

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
 
“Listening to understand, not to reply….” grabs my attention. So often, especially in social situations where I don’t really know people and I’m feeling uncomfortable, I am worrying on the inside of the conversation falling flat; running out of things to say, so I am thinking about what I could say next. The Augsberger quote is also spot on, “Being listened to is so close to being loved that most people cannot tell the difference.” There are a couple of people in my family who, and I know they don’t do it intentionally, it’s just their personalities, will walk away or start talking to somebody else when I’m right in the middle of saying something. And it does make me feel unloved and unimportant, though again, I know they don’t mean it that way. I would also add that maintaining eye contact while listening is huge!

Reply

Dee, thank you for the link to conversation starters! I will be using some of them as well as your questions.  I am especially interested in questions that would help people move one step closer to Christ, and looking forward to seeing some of those.
 
7.  The communications talk.  I’ve taken speech and communication classes, but this was by far the most practical and worthy of rules I’ve ever heard.  I would dearly love to be in a small group and practice these.  I can see that I am guilty of breaking nearly all of them every time I talk to people, except at work.  No wonder making friends is so hard!!
 

    Reply

    I think we all break all of them — so that is a good reminder. That’s good encouragement from you Mary to watch it. 

Reply

4. How could you apply verse 4 to the art of listening?     Looking out for the interests of another in listening.  Wow.  That definitely says,  listen to understand, not to reply.   In my face to face women’s study, we are using the book ‘Conversation Peace’ by Mary Kassian.   I have never heard or read her work before.  She asks a lot of questions that remind me of yours, Dee.    I’ve only just begun the book, but I am finding it very helpful…..to be learning about listening here and speaking in my other study!  Really, they go hand in hand.   Just did a compare and contrast with several portions from Proverbs about using your tongue for good or evil.   That also applies to listening.  If we only hear.  And don’t truly listen, we are not looking after the speaker’s interests.  We only want to have a sounding board to tout our ‘vast knowledge’ or our comebacks, or our platform.   None of which are likely to be in the speaker’s best interest.   At least not until we have allowed them to be heard.   

    Reply

    Sounds like a book I’d like to read!

Reply

2. In Philippians 2:1, Paul gives four “if’s” to remind us of ways Christ has loved us. Take one of those “if’s” and give an illustration of how Christ has loved you. (This is a bit of a challenge — so I will start and you can follow.)  If #4 “affection and sympathy.”  Oh this is an easy one for me to see this week.  Right here on this blog, His affection and sympathy for me, coming through His children (my sisters in Christ.)  I feel badly for taking everyone on an emotional roller coaster and taking up so much space on this venue, but I do want you to know how you have encouraged my heart during this uncertain time.  I was able to sing the Twila Paris song, “Do I trust You, Lord?” to God last night, before falling asleep.  I like the resolve at the end, “I WILL trust You, Lord, when I don’t know why.  I will trust You, Lord, till the day I die.  I will trust You, Lord when I’m blind with pain, You were God before and You’ll never change.”  Don’t think I could have arrived at that place so quickly where it not for being lifted up in prayer by so many.  Those w/out Him are left to grope in the darkness and fear.  I can’t image.

    Reply

    Hugs, mary e. Don’t worry your heart about taking up space here. We are so blessed to have you here and share your journey with us! Glad you were encouraged here. And I love the Twila Paris song! God bless your tender, God-focused heart! Praying for you regularly.

    Reply

    Mary, I have been following along with your updates and posts, have had limited time to be on my computer this week so slow to reply to you, but know that you are on my heart and in my prayers. In my mind, I can see you singing to the Lord as you drifted off to sleep. Mary, I’m sure you already know just how precious and beloved you are to Him; His treasure. You have a beautiful heart of love for Him and for others, and you have uplifted and encouraged all of us as well. Don’t ever be worried about “taking up so much space”! We count it an honor and a privilege to lift you in prayer. I loved your sharing His tender words to you in the night, telling you to rest. A beautiful picture of a Father tenderly holding His child….YOU, Mary!

    Reply

    Mary E. We love you. Cancer is an emotional roller coaster — one we don’t want you to ride alone. This is life and death and we want you to share.

      Reply

      Thank you everyone!  Before I had taken this turn towards increased pain, I had already planned a trip to GA (leaving today, flying, and returning on Sunday evening.)  I have gone back and forth about if I should go or not but I’ve decided I want to go.  So, Lord-willing, I will be in GA the rest of this week and may not make it on here much until next week. Thank you all again for such tremendous support.

        Oh, Mary e., so glad you have decided to go on your trip. Praying you have a great time!

        Mary, I hope and pray for a wonderful and fulfilling trip to Georgia, and safe travels.

Reply

5. What wisdom do you find concerning the art of listening from Proverbs 10:19?
 
You will usually stick your foot in your mouth given the opportunity! Or, many words give the chance of saying something wrong. Yikes…
 
6. What are some ways you might obey Proverbs 20:5 with non-Christians?
 
It’s difficult to get someone to talk about important things (like Jesus, and heaven), but it can be done if we drop the Idea (begin the conversation) and then just listen.

Reply

Just thinking about “if there is any encouragement in Christ”
This is so awesome because He lifts me up every day in more ways than I can count. Today I started with great discouragement but the Spirit has brought joy to my heart through the words of scripture. He has brought people into my life to encourage through sharing of my faith and every day my prayers bring answers- some in ways I never would have understood…
Thanks to each of you because there is so much encouragement here.
Working on the listening-it is a work in progress.

    Reply

    Shirley LOVE this post. I agree. 

Reply

5. What wisdom do you find concerning the art of listening from Proverbs 10:19?
He who restrains his lips is wise but he who talks too much is in danger of sinning. Yikes! I have done that.
 
6. What are some ways you might obey Proverbs 20:5 with non-Christians?
Ask questions as someone talks to draw out what is inside. I like how Dee opens up with “Tell me your story”..and then sincerely listens and ask questions. I would say starting with the surface and then go beneath as God opens doors.  I think relating is good if I keep it short like a nod-unless God opens the door for me to share what he is doing in my life and it relates-but even then I need to be wise with timing and hold my tongue for He knows hearts, not me.. but I have to be careful not to relate to something my friend is saying and then start talking about myself for 20 minutes. To me, the sin in that is it becomes me thinking of my own interest above theirs for it communicates that I really don’t care what they have to say and when I do that, I don’t. :) 

Reply

I wish everyone had your sensitivity Rebecca!

Reply

I hesitate to add this because it is not really on this week’s topic, but I have been pondering Mary’s situation and also one of my own in which the issue is not health but a relationship issue that is tearing my heart apart. I want to submit this link which applies to all kinds of situations in which God seems to be saying “No”. It is by one of my favorite writers, Joni Eareckson-Tada. I am hoping it may encourage Mary and any others who are going through trials here.
 
http://www.aholyexperience.com/2016/10/when-god-says-no/

    Reply

    Thanks for sharing this, Diane. Joni sure has so much hard-earned wisdom to offer us all. And, I will keep praying for your situation which is weighing so heavily on your heart.

    Reply

    Never hesitate to share things, Diane — esp when you are endeavoring to help sisters here.

    Reply

    Diane thank you for sharing this treasure. So thankful the Lord can put our hearts back together. I pray peace and joy fill your heart as you trust in Him.

Reply

2. In Philippians 2:1, Paul gives four “ifs” to remind us of ways Christ has loved us. Take one of those “ifs” and give an illustration of how Christ has loved you.
 
“If any tenderness and compassion”….I think of how many times a day I fail; if not in outward behavior, certainly in my thought-life and attitudes towards others, which only He can see. I am so thankful that it is His love and kindness that leads me to repentance and that He is always willing to say, “Let’s start again….”
 
“If any fellowship with the Spirit”…..not sure how to explain this one, but lately, random thoughts will come into my mind – things like a truth I have learned about God from listening to a sermon or here, and I’ll think to myself, “I really do believe that” and it reassures me of who He is and His character.
 
3. Because of these things, what does Paul ask of us in Philippians 2:2-4?
 
Paul asks us not to be divisive, but to get along with others; to be like-minded. To not be selfish and only looking out for my own interests. To be humble in my opinion of myself.
 
4. How could you apply verse 4 to the art of listening?
I identified with Laura and Liz saying that they often so identify with the person they’re talking to that they share their own story; I do the same. I need to develop the art of being a better listener; drawing the other out with questions. One thing I have learned is that frequently when I’m talking to someone, they will pause. Sometimes it’s a long pause, almost as if they’re done talking. I’ve learned that if I wait and not speak, they often are not done talking and will continue on some more. If, however, I take that pause as the end of their sharing, and I change the subject or start talking about myself, I deprive them of continuing on, and often, something deeper comes to the surface.
 
5. What wisdom do you find concerning the art of listening from Proverbs 10:19?
 
Let my words be few! That is wiser than monopolizing the conversation and talking excessively about myself.
 
6. What are some ways you might obey Proverbs 20:5 with non-Christians?
 
I think the majority of people are walking around with some kind of sorrow or disappointment in their heart. Being a man/woman of understanding means to be willing to just “hang out” with them, show an interest in their lives – their family, their work, what they like to do for recreation. Listen long and well. When people see that you are genuine in your care and concern for them, they just might open up and share that “thing” that lies beneath the surface. I also think that being understanding means to remember that just because you are a Christian, you are no better than the non-believer and you don’t have to have all the answers and you don’t always have to be right.

Reply

I had 2 opportunities to listen well yesterday; one in a parent meeting and the other with a group of mothers at our church. It was hard to not jump in and speak (thankfully there were no quiet silent times!!). Even though these aren’t spiritual conversations, I find them good to practice the listening bit. I did okay. Sometimes you are expected to respond, and knowing when to do that is hard. Next is to try to listen and not come up with my own example (like Rebecca spoke of). I e always thought it showed empathy to the other person; to have a similar situation…so they know they aren’t alone. This is difficult for sure! 
 

    Reply

    Sounds like you’re getting some good practice, Laura!

    Reply

    I love how you are really attempting to do this, Laura.

    Reply

    I applaud you for applying this Laura.

Reply

7. What stood out to you and why?
 
Though a secular talk, I thought it was excellent. I agree very much with the idea that modern technology is a detriment to learning the skill of conversation. I remember lying on my mom’s bed, talking on the PHONE – yes, a “land line”, to my friends; often for hours! I never observe my daughter (and rarely did my sons when they lived at home) calling a friend and talking to her. Instead, she texts or does snapchat. Even when she’s making plans with a friend! I’ll say, “Wouldn’t it be easier to just call her instead of texting back and forth?” Though we have access to people through social media and our phones, I do believe that people are more socially isolated today than ever before.
 
The ten points she made:
 
1. Don’t multi-task. Be present; not half-in and half-out.
2. Don’t pontificate. Quote from Peck: “True listening requires a setting aside of oneself”. Enter every conversation assuming you have something to learn. This was a good point. How often do I enter a conversation assuming I have some good advice or my own opinions to share….I am dying to share what I think instead of wanting to be a learner.
 
3. Use open-ended questions: Who, What, Why, How? “How did that feel?”
 
4. Go with the flow.
 
5. If you don’t know, say that you don’t.
 
6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs. If they talk about how they lost a family member, don’t start talking about how you’ve lost a family member. (I think that’s what was touched on here this week. However, I disagree just a little bit in this way: If someone shares something they have gone through, some pain, trial, sorrow….I think it’s okay to share at some point, after you’ve listened, that you also have experienced the same kind of loss. Example: “Yes, I’ve also had a miscarriage.” I do agree with the speaker that every experience is individual, so I would not go on to say, “I know just how you feel”. Personally, I have found comfort in knowing that someone else has gone through the same thing I have. There is a lady in my ABF class who told me that her mom had Alzheimer’s, and another friend of mine also lost her mom to Alzheimer’s. I know they understand what it’s like for me to see my mom with the same disease, and that I can talk to them.)
 
7. Try not to repeat yourself.
 
8. Stay out of the weeds (I think “weeds” was the word she used – I had difficulty hearing that word) She meant not to worry about remembering every detail, like the month, year, date, etc…
 
9. Listen. That’s so hard because we’d rather talk. Good quote: “Most of us don’t listen with the intent to understand, we listen with the intent to reply.” That’s that thinking ahead in my mind about what I can say next!
 
10. Be brief, and be prepared to be amazed by every person you meet.

    Reply

    Susan – as I expressed in my take away from the talk, it seemed like a gold mine to me…..and you are a great miner!!  :)  I am hoping that by sharing the 10 points you will draw others here in to give a listen to a great communicator on a subject of worth to us all!  Oh boy.  Dinosaurs like you and I are perplexed by the tide of social disconnect through tech aren’t we??  My daughter actually has been so wise in the use of media and tech…..she went off FB about 5 years ago and has not returned.  Though she does use and prefer texting over talking on the phone, she does regularly have face to face time with friends….often at her home where she cooks for them!  Conversation on the porch at her humble abode reminds me SO of my mom!!  :)  I love it!  And her phone is turned off or left in another room when people are visiting!  One of my sons, on the other hand, practically lives life on his phone!  Though I must say, all that he gleans from his time “plugged in” has often been a launching pad to amazing conversations as well! So….it’s a brave new world out there and God surely will give us continual grace to navigate it and to make the most of the opportunities that come our way!  But whenever we can….let’s get out in the woods and fields and NATURE…..I KNOW that you and I have that love for nature in all it’s facets in common!  Thanks for sharing as you have here.  :)  

      Reply

      My parents also had a front porch where neighbors would gather….fun! Yes, NATURE is always beckoning me from the window and I hate it when I have to stay inside and do cleaning! (And I guess I am a dinosaur!)

Reply

Great notes Susan.

Reply

2.  In Philippians 2:1, Paul gives four “if’s” to remind us of ways Christ have loved us.  Take one of those “if’s” and give an illustration of how Christ has loved you.
 
“any participation in the Spirit.”  Keeping if fresh and up to the minute….we are studying Philippians in our small group at church this year (only into chapter 1 so far!) and last night we had a lively disussion of this very thing!  My eyes filled with tears when my pastors wife looked around our group and said that her heart overflowed to see how every one was plugged in a serving Christ in our local body.  I can’t adequately describe how the Spirit moved in our discussion.  I mean right there in our interactions as He showed us how our individual ministries fit together in amazing ways that were under the radar, so to speak.  We began to see more of what it means to be “in partnership in the gospel” (a theme in Philippians).  It was so illuminating and we all sensed all four of these “if’s” in the process:  “encouragement in Christ, comfort from love, participation in the Spirit, and affeciton and sympathy.”  Something else that surprises me again and again is how HUMBLING these kinds of Holy Spirit gifted moments end up being.  We truly walked away with a fresh sense of AWE at the wonders of our God!!  
 
3.  Because of these things, what does Paul ask of us in Philippians 2:2-4?
 
It’s interesting to me here that though the heart of the passage – having the very humility of Christ – spills over to every single human we interact with daily, the context is within the body of Christ, or in this case the local church.  It suggests to me that my local body is where this takes root first and foremost.  Ideally, that would be our sweet spot, our safe place.  Going back and wrapping in the four “if’s” that you started us with Dee, what a springboard those things experienced in the fellowship of other believers gives us to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19, Jesus).  To a lovely degree, beyond the local church I would have to say that this very thing happens here in our blog fellowship as well!!!  In company with one another, we drink of His Word and then go into our daily lives watching the overflow!  Really consciously looking for opportunities to share the goodness of God in the land of the living – amen!  

    Reply

    So well said, Jackie. It does happen here — and you are a big part of that.

Reply

Since Dee gave Diane the ‘green light’ to share resources here,  I decided to apply that to myself as well :)  and would like to share this book, which I mentioned in an earlier post.  It’s called  Conversation Peace  by Mary Kassian,  who is a Canadian writer.   It’s written as a women’s Bible Study.  And as I mentioned before, many of her questions and teaching remind me of Dee’s.   My women’s study is doing this study this fall.  There’s a video that goes with it and I’ve only attended one session so far (heading there in a few minutes) but I have really been gaining a lot from doing the studies on my own.    Mostly about transforming our speech, but a big chunk of that, of course is listening well.   This is an ad for buying the book, and I didn’t open the link options, but it looks like you can see a sample of the writing.  I just like that it’s filled with scripture and she really gets to the heart and not the outward appearances.   (Have only done the first two weeks worth of lessons.)  
 
http://www.lifeway.com/n/Product-Family/Conversation-Peace:-The-Power-of-Transformed-Speech

    Reply

    Wanda – this is so funny for I meant to tell you that I had just ordered this book early this morning!  I’m very intrigued and it may be a personal study for a dear friend and myself!  We’ve been pondering….and I’m thinking this may be “it”!  Without your post I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have stumbled upon it!!  How fun!

      Reply

      that IS fun to read, Jackie.  :)   I will be glad to hear what you think!  I noticed that you could read the whole first chapter on the link, since I opened it later. 

    Reply

    Wanda–I haven’t been able to follow all the posts this week, but did see this from you–I’ve read some of Mary Kassian on Desiring God. I looked at the link you sent–and WOW. One of the free downloads–“The Power of Return” was really good, convicting. Thank you for sharing here.

    Reply

    Wanda, thanks for sharing the book with us! I need to dig up a copy of mine that we did with our pastor’s wife many years ago. I need all the reminders I can get!

Reply

4.  How could you apply verse 4 to the art of listening?
 
When Paul says this, I am just so excited to remember Jesus’ words that we should “love your neighbor as yourself.”  The One Story of the Scriptures just never ceases to amaze me!  Christ being the Story!  In our humanness this is nothing short of impossible.  But of course Paul knows that and follows v. 4 immediately with CHRIST – having His mind and letting His life soak more deeply into ours every single day.  :)  Jesus described himself this way:  “I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22:27).  All of this brings me to a “way of listening” that the Lord has been just repeatedly bringing to my heart – SERVING.  Key to relationship evangelism, at least to my mind as to what the Lord has been teaching me over the past few years, is service.  So when someone is is my life who He clearly wants me to share the gospel with, I being to pray PERSISTENTLY for clear opportunities to SERVE this person.  This prayer has been answered in ways that literally make me laugh out loud!!  I ask Him most specifically for service AS DEFINED BY THE OTHER – NOT AS I WOULD CHOOSE!!!  I don’t want superfluous “good deeds” that I WANT to do…..but only what truly meets the needs of another’s life and heart.  The ONLY way I can do this?  I must LISTEN.  Listening in this way will lead to service…which will lead to (likely!) deeper conversations, richer opportunities for more service!  :)  So it becomes this beautiful cycle  of listening and service that creates deep bonds between myself and another….with Christ the fulcrum of it all!  
 
One thing I have to add…..this cycle is more caught than taught!  I learned this from my mom, my dear aunt and so many others.  My two dearest friends for over two decades here in Maryland – Jestina and Mary Lynn! – live this in a natural and continual way!  Words can never express my gratefulness for the love and care and commitment of so many of His dear servants in my life.  Jesus brings me so much more than I could ever even think to ask for!  Thank you Jesus.  You have loved me with an everlasting love….and I am amazed.  

Reply

5.  What wisdom do you find concerning the art of listening from Proverbs 10:19?
 
Restraint and self control come to mind.  I think of James speaking of the tongue in chapter 3 of James….”…how great a forest is set ablaze with such a small fire!…”  Ugh.  Apart from Christ I have no hope in these matters.  
 
6.  What are some ways you might obey Proverbs 20:5 with non-Christians?
 
Well, I do think our own stories “matter”.  I think God can really use what He has worked out in our own lives to the benefit and the winsome wooing of others to “come and see!” (Jesus).  However, much of what our own stories mean in the context of sharing with non-Christians may mean reminding myself how very crucial discernment (“a man of understanding”) is.  Instead of jumping in and all over their words with my words….perhaps I could be asking the Spirit to bring great questions to mind to urge them to share more of the story beneath the story of their lives.  ?   Questions that come directly from their own lives – and may come from my life story as well!  Ultimately, my heart’s cry is to Jesus – who knows every single intimate detail of the person I am just getting to know!  He is the one who knows all the ins and outs of who, why, when and where we cross one another’s paths!  I really can trust Him to help me listen with His ears….but only if I am willing to take the risk of getting into the game!  

Reply

I just posted this on the FB page too but for others who aren’t on FB–just got an email from Mary E. and she says: “Please let everyone know that this trip is working out and I feel like the pain has been less for the past couple of days!! Praising the Lord and so grateful for everyone’s prayers! Love, Mary”
She sounds really good, is having a great time with her brother & his family. She even slept really well last night and said she’s so thankful she made the trip!

    Reply

    sweet to read, Lizzy.  THANK YOU for being a go between and keeping us up to date.  

    Reply

    Lizzy, this update on Mary E. fills me with joy.  The Lord’s mercies are raining down on her even in terrible trouble and hardship.  Her love for Him makes me want to weep.  By going to Georgia, Mary was able to follow Jesus and bring an incredible GIFT (herself!!) to her brother and family…..as well as herself!  We need to KEEP ON PRAYING !!  

    Reply

    So glad! Thanks, Lizzy.

Reply

7.  What stood out to you and why?
 
Wow.  This TED talk is not to be missed – under 12 minutes, but jam packed with goodies that CAN change our conversations!!  Dynamic presentation.   Bonus – I listened with my daughter and she is passing it on to some of her friends!  
 
How I love when the speaker told of her childhood and how it shaped her vision and probably even her passion for conversation I would guess!  I realized that my own childhood gave me much in that regard as well – though my parents didn’t host a lot of “famous” people in their home…..just a whole lot of “regular” folks!  I laughed out loud she spoke of not getting stuck in the weeds, for I remembered two elderly couples in particular that my parents used to regularly visit (and drag me along!).  Even as a small child I can remember being astonished by the way these couples would BICKER over the most minute details of their stories….I instinctively knew that was NOT normal….that there was a better way!    Of everything she shared though, my favorite by far was at the very end – be prepared to be amazed!!  THAT is golden indeed and gives great worth and dignity to each and every human in our path.  Oh how I thank you Lord, for this secular talk that humbles me and stimulates me and is a gold mine of Your truths…..even if the speaker may not be aware of the Source!  YOU are the biggest amazement of my life!!  Amen and amen.

1 2

Leave a Comment

If this is your first time here, please comment then fill out your name and email as stated at the bottom. Dee will approve you within 24 hours.

Name (required)
Email (required)