Build the Bridge

Restoring may be harder than forgiving. Forgiveness is hard enough, restoration can feel like we are inviting heartbreak all over again.

Sin always causes a great divide. Jesus came to heal the pain and bridge the divide. So when someone in our family fails and we find ourselves on different sides of a canyon, we must build a bridge.

Restore means to “to repair, to complete thoroughly, mend, perfect, perfectly joined together.” [i] If the family unit is to endure and relationships to last, we must restore each relationship. One side offers repentance the other forgiveness and the bridge between is restoration. We must seek ways to mend the relationship returning it to being perfectly joined together again.

Restoration begins once repentance is made. Encourage the family to find ways to restore the person back to their place. A person needs a way back to their original relationship, responsibility and role. We cannot demote and belittle in an effort to punish. We restore. We build bridges.

Faith, Hope and Love entwine to invite God’s ability to restore the family. When we work through our issues and find restoration we develop a stronger bond that is seasoned and refined by fire.

As parents and grandparents we are tasked with helping our young children grow in this healing process. When our kids and grandkids grow to adults it becomes harder as the wounds go deeper and the divide larger. Establish this process now. Teach them to find a way back. To build the bridge.

Pay close attention to relational cues between siblings and even parent-child relationships. Red flags include avoidance, shaming, name calling, exclusion, anger and silence. Some arguments can resolve themselves, but for the most part the process of restoration does not come naturally. It is taught and it is hands on so roll up those sleeves my friend.

Read 2 Corinthians 2:6-11, James 5:16, John 21:15-19 and pray Galatians 6:1.

Galatians 6:1

Father, “if someone [in our family] is caught in a sin,” help us to, “live by the Spirit [and] …restore that person gently.” Teach us to, “watch [ourselves], or [we] also may be tempted.”

[i] Strongs’ Exhaustive Concordance

Arguments and Reconciliation

Things had escalated fast when suddenly she screamed, “Get out of my house!” Instead, I folded my arms and stood my ground. “We aren’t done talking about this.” Whirling around she screamed, “Get out!” Yet there I stood, rooted to the floor. “Fine!” She shouted. “I’ll leave my own home!”

Anger fits both of us like a well tailored suit. Staying calm and not raising my voice took all the power of the Holy Spirit in me.

As I stood there in her home watching the tail lights disappear out her front window I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. She wouldn’t be coming to my wedding.

Taking the path that cut through the woods back home, I mumbled to the Lord, “Well that was a total fail.” His next words hit me with such force I lost my breath. “I never fail.”

You see, to me this argument was the end. The “fail” was my failure to reconcile. Failure to apologize. Failure to Hope for more. My label of “fail” meant I had stopped believing in His ministry of Reconciliation. At least for this. For us.

But God never fails. Love never fails. This was just one brilliantly colored thread in a tapestry He wasn’t finished with. There in the woods on that not-so-well treaded path between my house and hers I gave the mess, the brokenness and the rejection to the Lord.

Leaving my sorrow there on the forest floor, I repented for my lack of faith in Him. Then I plodded the rest of the way home realizing that whatever God’s plan was, He clearly wasn’t done. I could find peace and rest in that.

Three days later, I stepped outside and found myself face to face with her. Right there on the lawn, she hugged me and said she was sorry. A few short months later she traveled to my wedding with her whole family. It was completely unexpected and one of my favorite memories of her. God’s fingerprints. All of it.

God is the God of Reconciliation and He has called us to be ministers of reconciliation too. We reconcile others to Him and to each other. One of our greatest roles as parents is reconciliation.

Reconciling family members requires keeping in step with the Holy Spirit. Families have an ability to cut each other deep. From children to adults, we are called to forgive and be forgiven. To be peacemakers. To repent and reconcile. I can think of no better refining fire than the family unit.

Sometimes, we role up our sleeves and get dirty. Sometimes we simply need to get out of God’s way. Healing takes time. Respect. Faithfulness. Vulnerability. Boundaries. Love never fails. God never fails.

Read Matthew 18:21-22, 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, and Colossians 3:12-15.

Colossians 3:12-15

Father, I pray our family would have “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other,” and as You have “forgiven [us], so [we] also must forgive.” Father, I pray, “above all these [we would] put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” That, “the peace of Christ [will] rule in [our] hearts.”

What about you? Do you need healing in a family relationship? Can you encourage someone who does? Do you have a story of healing to share with us?

Teaching Compassion & Empathy

We have to teach our kids compassion. As I watched Gabe and Esther play tag in the yard, the game which was full of shrieks of laughter turned to shrieks of pain. Seeing Esther first I said, “What happened?” She looked at me, then back at Gabe — who was shrieking on the ground– shrugged and said, “He stepped on something I guess.” Then she casually went on ignoring his cries of pain happening only a few yards away from her.

Disturbed by her reaction, I ran and surveyed the scene. Gabe was on the ground holding his foot with a board (recently fallen off the play set) full of rusty screws on the ground under him. He had stepped on one of the screws and had a pretty bad puncture wound in his foot. Blood was pouring out of it as I carried him up the stairs. As I doctored him, I pondered the lack of interest in Esther. Wondering why she didn’t even check on him. I sent her to her room intending to speak with her about it later.

After Gabe had been thoroughly tended to with iodine, I turned my attention to the seemingly heartless daughter I had upstairs. I know Esther. She’s kind and thoughtful. She cares a lot about people, so her behavior struck me as odd. I didn’t want to attack her or make her feel guilty. I just needed to teach her what to do when someone gets hurt. How to act with compassion and empathy.

If it’s not fun for one, the game is done.

I began with a gentle reminder of a rule in our house: If it’s not fun for one, the game is done. If a joke is not funny for someone, the game is done. If someone gets hurt and isn’t having fun anymore, the game is done. If someone gets hurt you need to check on them. Ask if they need help. Go for help if they say yes. If they say no, then help them up. Try to find something that will make them feel better. Put yourself in their shoes. If you were hurt and couldn’t get up, what would you want? How would you feel? Look at their face and try to understand what they are feeling. Are they crying? Laughing? Sad? In pain? …all were questions and options we discussed.

It seemed to me that these were obvious social rules and obligations, but my four year old daughter didn’t know what her responsibility was. Today, as a parent, I realized the concrete concept that it has to be taught. We have to teach our children how to care for others. How to get help. When to stop the game. Especially if it is a family member.

I want her to act with compassion and empathy for everyone she meets, and develop an even stronger protective nature for members of her family. Because we are family, and that’s what we do. We care for each other. We look out for each other. Help. Defend. Protect.

It all has to be taught. As parents, we cannot assume our loving, tender child will know what to do a situation like that. I am very interested in what you have done to teach the children in your life empathy and compassion.

Pray for them

Psalms reminds us to, “Forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Wow! What a promise! Let’s pray for those in our lives who need a touch from God, whose unfailing  love and faithfulness is ever true.

Lord, I lift up (Name) to you and “I pray that all may go well with [Name] and that [he/she] may be in good health, as it goes well with [his/her] soul.” In your powerful name I pray, amen. 
3 John 2

Prayers taken from the daily prayer on the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.

Spiced Pumpkin Scones

  • 4 cups Flour
  • 2/3 cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp Cloves
  • 1 1/5 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1 3/4 cups Cold Butter
  • 1/4 cup Cold Lard
  • 1 cup Pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tbs Molasses
  • 1/3 cup Cream
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Vanilla

Cinnamon Glaze

  • 1 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 2 tsp Cream
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line two large baking sheets with foil. In a large (and I mean LARGE) mixing bowl, combine first 8 ingredients. Cut in cold butter and lard until you have small crumbles the size of peas. Set aside. In another bowl, combine pumpkin, molasses, cream, eggs and vanilla.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture and combine only until a soft dough forms (it will be sticky). Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead until it is no longer sticky – about 5-8 times. Form dough into a rectangle and cut into 32 small triangles.

Transfer onto the prepared baking sheets and bake for about 10-15 minutes. Once done, let them cool on a rack. Meanwhile, prepare glaze. Once scones are cooled completely, drizzle lightly the cinnamon glaze onto the pumpkin scones and let dry.

Note: If you are a glaze lover, double the glaze recipe and dip the scones into the glaze, covering the top completely.