Saturday, August 18, 2012

28 Years By His Grace...

Today I am pleased to celebrate 28 years of marriage with my beloved husband Kevin. 28 years ago I didn't know much about sacrifice, about the meaning of godly submission, or thinking of putting others first. I just knew that I had found someone who finally loved me and accepted me, warts and all. Besides he was tall, dark and handsome, had a job and cared very much for my safety and protection. What more could a girl want?

So we walked down the aisle at our Baptist church amidst the beautiful aqua tea length dresses my lovely bridesmaids wore and handsome gray tuxes of the groomsmen. With roses and daisies in my hair, wearing my mother's ivory dress, I looked in my bridegroom's tender brown eyes and promised to honor and obey him (Ephesians 5:22-24) in good times and bad.We sang many hymns in the service and the good news of the Gospel was preached.What a happy beautiful day.

We have indeed had our share of good times and bad. Kids, a precious gift from the Lord, have tested the loyalty of our love for each other as we disagreed over discipline. Money worries have come and gone and recently, physical injuries and lack of employment for a long period.

But what if I was totally relying on my husband to carry me through those times? There were times when my children were very small that I relied on him to do things for me that only God could provide. Those times my dear husband tried so hard to carry all the burden but he could not. We all have feet of clay.

There were times when we considered we would become a statistic. We never did. And today, we look at each other with hope in each other's eyes. We know each other's quirks inside and out. We have braved deep waters together. We have survived the storm of parenting. Finally, the glue that really held us together were three things:

1. Our common faith in Jesus Christ. (What brought us together in the first
place, and is so important for believers to be equally yoked as discussed
in II Corinthians 6: 14-15.

2. Commitment to be loyal to one another in all aspects of the marriage

3. The dumb jokes we share. This started in our courtship. We had this thing
about making all these corny jokes. We still do. Laughter has diffused so
many tense situations.

Maybe some of these ideas may help someone somewhere struggling in their marriage. I once heard some very good adice. Don't go looking for "the perfect one." YOU be the one to effect the change in your marriage. The day my happiness in marriage started was the day I realized that my husband could not ultimately fulfill my deepest needs. Only one Person could do that, and He is the Person of Jesus Christ.

When I am rightly attuned in my relationship with Jesus, I can love my husband without expecting him to give me something that will fulfill me, because my needs have already been filled to the max through Jesus!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Fleeting Life

This summer I had a great privilege to take part in a memoir class. I loved writing about my past. It was so cathartic. Memories that had been stuffed down, actually lying in my brain dormant, surfaced again as my fingers hit the keys. Good times, bad times, things I wished had never happened all came back in a flood. And then I began rummaging through the pictures I had always said I was going to get organized. I was going to, yet I never did.

Actually many of those precious Kodak moments lay in my attic in the corner, in the very back, forgotten, until I was on my memoir quest. Suddenly, they became very important. Learning how to scan them into my computer and then into my stories, those pictures came alive again for me. I wrote about college days, about passing my boards, getting my lifeguarding certification, hey, I even wrote my very first memory. My mother confirmed that it, indeed, had really happened.

When I was a baby in Christ and I read the book of Ecclesiastes I was totally depressed. Why did the Preacher write in the second verse: "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity(?) Who was God to allow God to make life so fleeting like that? I remember I questioned that after I had given birth to my first child. I didn't understand the point of the book.

If life was so transient, then what was the point of life? The point is given after the Preacher had experienced all the pleasures of life and found them meaningless.

Eccles. 2: 10
"Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.
I did not withhold from my heart any pleasure,
For my heart rejoiced in my labor;
And this was my reward from all my labor.
Then I looked on all the works my hands had done
And on the labor in which I had toiled;
And indeed it was all vanity and grasping for the wind.
There was no profit under the sun."

Now, as I look back on the faded pictures I see that life is a vapor. I was a girl. It seemed I would never grow up. My mother said, "You have your whole life ahead of you."

Now, that life is at least half gone. The faded pictures are memories. Then the Preacher is right if this life is all there is. But at the end, the Preacher too, comes to wisdom and says:

Eccles. 12: 13

"Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all.
For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil."

Finally, the one commandment He wants us to obey, or "work: today, which is answered here:

John 6: 28-29

Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?"
Jesus answered and said to them, " This is the work of God, that you may believe in Him whom He sent."

Then life will not be vanity, but will suddenly have new meaning, destiny and purpose...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Make the Call!

This past week, there were some people whom I hadn't talked to in a long while. I was tempted to, no, I will just admit, that I did feel sorry for myself, that these people had not picked up the phone and called me. It is easy for me to start on a downward spiral with a slew of negative thoughts when I get into "stinking thinking." Do you ever think to yourself, "Why does it have to be me who has to make the effort all the time?"

But what if my Lord thought that way, even for one tiny second? I would be lost for sure. If He would have thought that while He journeyed to the cross, He could have put it down and simply walked away, telling the Father, "Why do I have to be the One that gets nailed to that tree?" Where would I be going then? (Hint, it would not be heaven.)

But Christ knew the definition of agape. He knew love thinks not of itself. So after I realized how selfish I was being, I picked up the phone, swallowed my pride, and made the calls. And I had some wonderful conversations with people that were long overdue. So what if I had to call them! The important thing was that I wanted to tell them I loved them. That is what I wanted to convey. I am slowly, oh ever so slowly starting to see, this life is not about me.

When I focus on me I am miserable. It is about Christ and His love: His love for people. That is what He came for. He didn't come just to make me comfortable. He came so that people would know that He loves them.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What do you do when you let yourself down?

This is a question I deal with all the time. Somehow I think I am above failure in a certain thing, and then, just to keep me straight, I fail in that very thing. Some days I think I have the world by the tail, then other days come and it seems I can hear the taunts: "You thought you were above this thing? We--ell, guess what, you're not!"

Ever hear of 70 times 7? Jesus answered that when Peter asked him how many times he should forgive his brother in Matthew 18: 22. Sometimes it is easier to forgive others than forgive ourselves especially when we keep failing in the same sin repeatedly.

But if we don't allow ourselves to be the recipients of the grace of God, how can we really allow others to experience it?

Lord God, today cleanse me from me hidden faults that keep me trapped in a pattern of failure. You are the ONLY ONE I can look to: certainly not myself, and not other people. For You are sinless, and above the fray of our webs of self deceit.Amen.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Slowly Learning the Lessons of Life....

I am back. I know, I know I was gone waaaayy too long. I am like a sheep that wandered from the fold. I apologize to the few readers that were reading this blog. I let you down and I am sorry. Life got busy and I did not count the cost that keeping a blog would entail. I tried a different blog but realized it was only accessible to friends on facebook or people on Tumblr. I am slowly learning the ways of being tech savvy. I am a slow learner. I am also a slow learner in God's lessons too. One message I like is that Christ is both a guilt offering and a sin offering for us. It is often profitable just to look at the meanings of the words for "guilt" and "iniquity." There are many free resources on the internet that will help you dissect every word of a verse in the Bible. The one I have used frequently is the Blue Letter Bible. It will explain every single word in the Greek or Hebrew. By taking the time to study these words, we will have a greater understanding of the value of Christ's atoning sacrifice for us. You could spend hours there and never grow tired of all the things you could study. Our sins, no matter how heinous, have been paid for on the cross. When we believers cite them to God as instructed in I John 1: 9, He cleanses the guilt away as well. Whenever I am tempted to feel guilty after I have confessed my sin, I must realize that that is even worse to have a guilt complex. I don't know about you, but I am tired of walking around with one when Christ died to make me free from it! I recently heard some messages on this very theme and they have brought me into a new realization! It really is finished! You can trust Christ today, if you never have before, to cleanse you from your sins and give you His very own righteousness as a free and irrevocable gift. Better to be a slow learner than to never learn this at all....