No one goes around looking to strike up a hard conversation.
And yet, I’m not sure we can expect to walk fully in light of the gospel without a willingness to do it. Thankfully, people like Lori Roeleveld are able to take not-so-comfortable conversations and break them into hearty, but bite-sized morsels.
For almost a decade, I’ve watched Lori’s life beautifully reflect her zeal for God and His Word. She’s the real deal and I’m honored to have her guest post today. In typical Lori fashion, she went above and beyond by offering an autographed copy of The Art of Hard Conversations to one blessed recipient. For now, be blessed as you read directly from Lori’s heart because that’s the kind of writer she is.
If you’re anything like me, my prayer preparation for any conversation that I anticipate may be challenging or uncomfortable used to sound like this. “Please make this go away. Don’t make me be the one to discuss this. Please send someone else.” (Total transparency – sometimes they still sound like that.)
I comforted myself in that it sounded a lot like Moses, but really it was my “turtle” self, longing to escape my responsibility to speak truth, share my faith, encourage a struggling believer, or resolve a conflict.
Through years of engaging in all manner of hard conversations, I’ve learned that most effective ones begin with showing up for a “hard conversation” with God.
This is where I pour my heart out to Him in prayer about the situation first. I read relevant passages of Scripture and sit quietly while He helps me sort through my feelings, the facts, His truth, and my love for the other person in order to inform my approach, timing, and words.
There are many, many times when this time of prayer is the end of the matter. This is usually when I’ve taken some offense or harbor self-righteous anger about a situation. As I confess emotions that aren’t based in His Word and read what Scripture has to say about my words, I often realize that the log in my own eye is most of the problem.
Other times, this period of prayer highlights a lack of love on my part.
Love lapses are responsible for much of our lack of evangelism, internal church conflict, even family struggles. Too often, I try to operate solely from a foundation of my own human affection. God prods me, always, to rely on His perfect love to infuse me and inform my relationships with others, as described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. This gets worked out in this time of prayer.
Always, this time of prayer reduces my fear and reminds me of God’s presence with me and His desire to include me in His work. That’s exciting! Hard conversations may begin as a painful exercise, but often, they are the vehicles of transformation and breakthrough God desires and how blessed are we to be witness to that!
When I feel there may be a hard conversation in my future with another person, I pray for God to give me His heart for that person and let me see them through His eyes. I pray for their heart to be fertile soil and for God to go before my words to prepare the way. I pray for the right opportunity and timing to appear with clarity and favor. And, I ask God to remove any barriers in me and in the other person that may interfere with communication and with God’s Work in our hearts.
Preparatory prayer is as vital for hard conversations as it is at the beginning of any worthy endeavor.
If you anticipate a challenging chat – being open with someone about your faith or biblically-informed belief, confronting sin, working through a conflict, or sharing tough news – commit to daily prayer leading up to your tough talk.
Show up with God unguarded.
Read the Psalms and see how David exposed his messy heart to God in prayer. Doing this with friends is unproductive and sometimes sinful. Doing it with God is life-altering. Admit your anger, envy, self-righteousness, fear, or even your lack of faith that the conversation will make any difference. Receive His forgiveness and correction, knowing we all must keep growing until we are home with Him.
Keep the Word of God open before you and read several passages that pertain to the topic of your conversation or about what God expects of our words (such as James 1:19-25 or James 4:13-18). Confess thoughts or emotions that are not in line with God’s expectations for believers. Then pray those Scriptures for the person with whom you hope to speak.
Ask for God’s wisdom and then believe He’ll provide it.
Ask for Him to clearly provide an opportunity to speak and then, watch for it. Be persistent in prayer and see what God will do when you take the risk of engaging in an uncomfortable conversation to speak His truth into someone’s life.
Too often, I think everything there is to know about a situation is what I can see. Prayer reminds me there is an entire dimension – the spiritual realm – that is at work. It’s strengthening, encouraging, and informing when I connect with that dimension in prayer before I engage in conversation – hard or otherwise.
Do you want your next hard conversation to be effective? Show up for the first hard conversation by praying and inviting God into a tough talk with you. Then, watch how the adventure unfolds.
Lori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. Her latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.
To enter for an autographed copy of The Art of Hard Conversations, simply leave a comment below. A winner will be selected randomly on Sunday, March 3rd. Thank you for sharing a few minutes of your day in the Tiny House on the Hill.
At least that’s how the story began.
Last April, before May floods meandered their way over the Swannanoa banks, we headed to the Antique Tobacco Barn in Asheville NC, in search of a Gothic window. We explored aisles of primitive ladders, glass knobs, and bird egg blue cabinets until we spotted the distinctive curve peeking over nearby antique relics.
Or should I say curves? Turns out, there were two.
We asked to buy just one, but the seller wouldn’t budge⏤purchase the pair, or nothing at all.
A Gothic window isn’t an easy find, especially on our budget, so we paid the money and skedaddled back down the mountain.
We decided the now two windows could bookend the tiny house. One in front, perched over the porch, and the other, nestled in the back. Because we were nowhere ready for installation, (which begs the question why did we go shopping for them in April?), we wrapped the windows in beach towels and leaned them on my great-aunt’s bed frame in the garage.
Finally, on a bitter cold day in January, we introduced the windows to their forever home. Brian, aka, my Genius, devised a way to frame the window without having to cut curved pieces of wood, saving valuable time, and dare I say, frustration. *wink*
Brian installed the first Gothic window over the front porch. Around the same time, we needed to decide where to install the split unit for heating and air. While compact and uber-convenient, the interior part of the unit takes up a bit more space than expected, leaving us with only two choices: mount the unit over the antique mantle, or on the back wall.
Let’s just say the mantle won.
I couldn’t imagine having a split unit hovering over the vintage mantle, especially when two lovely alternatives are vying for that space. The second window was returned to the garage until further notice.
If this weekend warrior is learning anything during the building process, it’s to be flexible and to always have a Plan B. Notice I said learning, as in, the struggle is real.
Now, the Tiny House on the Hill sits with the Gothic window in place⏤a space designed just for her.
To have a tiny space to call our own is good for the soul. It doesn’t have to sit on a hill out back. It can be as simple as a cozy corner in our home, a closet where we create, or a place in our garden where we meet with God.
“You’re my place of quiet retreat; I wait for your Word to renew me.”
Psalm 119:114 MSG
So, where’s your space⏤the place you go to create, rest, and recharge?
*Tiny subscribers, if you missed February’s Letter, you’ll want to check out the exclusive video of Brian installing the Gothic window.
I’m not a fan of surprises.
I figure life offers up an ample share of them, so to balance things out, I’ll take my daily hum in a rhythm of slow and steady.
Sometimes, though, surprises make themselves right at home, like the one that showed up at my “doorstep” a few months ago.
Opportunity knocked and I opened the door.
I can’t go into details now, but since that tap on my “door”, I’ve worked some of the hardest and longest hours since becoming a writer. At every turn, the words you-are-wasting-your-time flicked at my head like the curled fingers of a pesky brother.
And yet, somehow, this work feels like an act of obedience.
Regardless of our calling, flicks of discouragement aim to distract and discourage:
- Can-God-really-use-this (or you)-for-His-glory?
- Have-you-seen-what-______-is-doing? Why-should-you-bother?
Swatting at them only burns energy I have little of these days, so I’m learning to pause, take a breath, and face the pesky flicks with what we both know to be true:
1. We Need to Embrace the Opportunities But Release the Outcome
Opportunity knocks. We can either “open” the door, or pretend pamphlet peddlers are on the other side and ignore the taps. But it is God who determines what awaits us once we walk through the door.
The surprise knock on my door felt like a divine tapping of sorts, mainly because I didn’t go looking for it. It also aligns with the Word, and holds an opportunity to glorify Him. But this doesn’t mean the months of work will come to fruition as I hope, and that’s okay. I rest in knowing that I’m doing only what I can do⏤open the door.
I know the chances are slim for my “dream” outcome, but I don’t write for a dream.
I write for God.
And my guess is you do what you do for the same reason.
So we leverage those pesky flicks of discouragement by perceiving them as mini-opportunities to re-commit our work to the Lord, releasing the desire for a particular outcome, and trusting His best for us in every situation. Because here’s the thing:
When our joy is rooted in obedience rather than a particular outcome, there is a quiet satisfaction that roars of glory.
2. Only Truth Takes Lies Captive
Turn up the music, down another strong cup of joe, or check social media. It won’t matter. The pesky brother will use that time to strengthen his fat little fingers for a stronger flick when you return.
Let’s not waste our God-given time trying to run from discouragement. Let’s face it together, head on:
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV
When we release the desire to control the outcome, entrusting it to Christ, the lies lose their power, even their freedom to flick away as they please.
3. When Being Obedient There’s No Such Thing as Wasted Time
Take that, pesky brother! Surrendering the outcome to God means that time is no longer narrowed down to wise or wasted. Every moment of obedience is ripe with purpose.
“Growing closer to God is not the result of trying harder but of surrendering more.” Anonymous
So now I wait and pray to see what God will do and whatever that is, it is perfect for me.
But I still don’t like surprises.
Is there some way I can pray for you today? Maybe a door is opening or closing in your life, or perhaps you’re struggling to release the outcome. I welcome the opportunity to join arms with you in prayer.
*For confidential requests, feel free to message me via Facebook or contact me through my website.
Come sit a spell.
It’s an invitation to come on over, take a seat, and rest awhile. It’s a saying my spinster great-aunts spun while rocking on the front porch that hugged their century-old home. Family, friends, and those strolling on the nearby sidewalk were invited to join them for conversation while they shucked corn and popped peas.
That was over forty years ago, but the charm of the front porch remains.
And it’s one of the reasons why I chose a Victorian style tiny house.
Turns out, our *tiny* front porch was one of the easiest projects to date. Or maybe it just seems that way because it came on the heels of the toughest. The best part of building the porch? Brian kept both feet on the ground and it was completed within a couple of Saturdays.
The porch floor was added earlier so searching for the right columns and roofing were our only to-do’s. Early on, I’d imagined columns with some heft to them. You know, the kind you can hold onto and swirl about? But since I swerve more than swirl these days, we decided to bypass that requirement and go for full-on character, which the smaller ones offered.
The porch roof was an interesting undertaking. My engineering husband put his skills to the test as he researched ways to build a slanted roof while making room for the Gothic window that will soon perch just above the porch. It was a happy day at the Baker’s house when he discovered a galvanized roof like the main one, but with deeper channels to keep the rain flowing in a downward direction.
The left image is from November’s Tiny House Tuesday, and the right is December’s. Oh, the difference a porch (and door!) can make.
Now all she needs is a bit of frill in the form of Victorian scroll work in the corners of the posts.
I doubt my *tiny* porch will offer enough space for the large wooden-slat rockers like my great-aunt’s way back when, but the door will always be wide enough for friends and family.
So come sit a spell, won’t you?
I want to be that woman⏤the one who swirls her colored pencils, creating a design befitting a beautiful prayer journal.
But I’m not.
Instead, I buy pencils and markers in an array of colors, along with hand-lettering books, to feel like the woman who does such things. Truth is, I buy a fetching three-ring binder from Target, a pack of College-ruled notebook paper, and new for 2019⏤a pack of LePens. (Hey, if I can’t create a design, I can at least write in fabulous colors.)
Years ago, I searched for crisply lined journals with lovely covers to write poetry, but creativity clutched my brain like a toddler to a mother’s leg, refusing to let loose. Don’t write a word on that gilded line until you have the perfect word. Needless to say, few poems made their way to the pages. But somewhere along the way, I started using plain ol’ notebooks to record my poetic thoughts. It’s a mental game, of course, teasing the brain that it’s okay to write away because it’s a throwaway notebook.
For me, it’s the same with prayer journals.
God isn’t expecting or seeking perfection in the words poured out onto the page. He’s not moved by the handwriting, but rather, the heart that is writing. When I use a three-ring binder stocked with loose-leaf paper and four tabs, I feel free to write, cross out words, jot down scripture references, and scribble sideways when necessary.
In the past, I’ve journaled prayers using My Prayer Partner Notebook by Becky Tirabassi, fancified journals with life-giving words on the cover, and five-subject notebooks. But one small important distinction between using journals/notebooks and three-ring binders/loose-leaf paper is the ability to add loose paper to specific sections, as needed.
Sections, you say. Why, yes.
On one sheet of loose-leaf paper, at the front of the binder, I create a cover page that lists specific needs I can pray over each day of the week.
- Sunday – our church, pastors
- Monday – our children, grandchildren, and family
- Tuesday – Hope*Writer and Facebook requests
- Wednesday – our small group
- Thursday – missions
- Friday – the lost
- Saturday – fellow writers and their work
After the cover page, I have tabs that vary in subject at times, but these are the standard four:
First Section :: Adoration
“Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to His name…” Psalm 29:2
I see this different from a time of praise. It’s a specific space to declare my awe and wonder of God — who He is, not what He does for me in specific situations. I read through a Psalm, choose one specific characteristic and write out the verse. Sometimes that’s the only thing written. When I allow myself to meditate on this truth of who God is, it becomes more about being (still) and less about doing.
Second Section :: Thanksgiving
“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:34
Because focusing on God’s characteristics can’t help but lead to a grateful heart, it’s here I write the ways I’m thankful for God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. It’s also the place I record the specific why behind the gratitude, helping to take it the gratefulness to a deeper, more personal level.
Third Section :: Search and Find
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23, 24 NIV
It’s here I pause and ask God to search my heart, confident there are sins and struggles I simply don’t see. I usually write them down, but sometimes I don’t, refusing to be legalistic about my time with God. The main point is to have a searchable heart that results in confession, cleansing, and sweet restoration.
Fourth Section :: Intercession
“Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open.” Ephesians 6:18 The Message
I like to divide this section into two: one for friends struggling with long-term issues like sickness, ongoing marriage or children issues. The other, for short-term requests. Pocket Prayers are also used for both when I’m in a pinch for time. Not sure what those are? I share more in the post How to Pocket Your Prayers.
- Date your entries. You’ll appreciate pinpointing the date of original prayers and praises in the future.
- I address entries to my heavenly Father. People have shared how this one point often trips them up in prayer journaling — not knowing how to direct their prayers on paper. Again, it’s not about the paper, but the heart.
- Leave ample space beside requests for praise and answers to prayer. Pray expectantly!
- Recording God’s answers to prayer will not only heighten appreciation, but it will also serve as a journal of God’s faithfulness for future generations.
- There may be times when you need to write something so personal that the thought of anyone reading it tempts you not to record it. Go ahead, write it⏤get it out⏤on a separate sheet of loose paper in your binder, pray through it, and then throw it away.
Oh my, how I’d love to say I journal every day, but I don’t. On those days I miss, I rest in knowing that my prayers⏤my connection with God⏤isn’t limited to ink that flows onto man-made pages. Our prayers go wherever we go.
Journaling is simply a tool to slow us down and focus, helping us to become more intentional about prayer in a world that wants us to be anything but.
So, how about you? Do you journal your prayers? If so, what type of book do you use? If not, is this something you will consider doing in 2019?
I’m loving my new LePens so much (thank you Amazon Lightning Deal) that I’d like to give away a three-pack in celebration of journaling our prayers in 2019. Simply answer the question above (or just pop in and say hello) to be entered in the giveaway. The winner will be randomly selected via miniwebtool.com on Saturday, January 5th.
Thank you for joining me on this *tiny* journey in 2018. Lord willing, this new year will see a completed Tiny House on the Hill, a small space that I pray will magnify our great God for years to come.
Blessings to you and yours in 2019!