Carefully Consider Today

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Now that camping season is coming to a close, I hope to have more scheduled posts. Today, though, I am veering away from what you may be accustomed to here at God’s Word Girl. I don’t know if I have asked anyone who follows this blog to share anything I publish. I figure if it ministers to you, you will naturally pass it on without any petition from me. Today’s feature is different. Today I am asking you to join me in passing on the video I am sharing with you. Please do not discard what I am presenting without careful consideration and prayer.

This is a video which calls for action. I have since shared it with one of our small church groups and we are taking action in our community. I pray you will, too. This is not political, it is spiritual. But I do not live inside of lines. What I believe spiritually, the Bible upon which I live and love, seeps into every aspect of my life, as well it should. The person who says they are a follower of Christ but fail to live like Him outside of the walls of the church has ultimately failed the public as well as their Creator. God’s very nature is love, life, liberty and righteousness; anything beneath these standards is beneath His quality.

I want to add that although this video pertains to us here in the United States of America, it applies to those outside of our borders as well. For God knows no bounds.

I also want you to know that I pray for you. On occasion, I go down my list of followers and pray for your peace and blessings, for you to grow in God, and for your overall well being. I especially pray for those of you in nations where Christians being persecuted is an accepted way of life. God in us has the power to change everything through prayer. The Church has been silent and asleep for way too long. Speak and take a stand today. Tomorrow may be too late.

Humble Me

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When I was a young girl, I thought horseback riding looked incredibly romantic.  Hair flowing, horse elegantly galloping, peace, power, beauty . . .  *sigh*.  These are the things dreams are made of.  When Bob and I were dating I finally had the chance to experience riding in real life.  That dream became a nightmare in short order.

We went to a local stable and I got the “meekest, mildest horse” there.  (Yeah, right.)  The ride was nice until Bob expressed his want for a little more speed.  He and the owner asked if I’d be okay with that.  Feeling pretty confident as far as a first ride went, I agreed.  I received further instruction and figured I’d be okay since I had the “meekest, mildest horse” they had.  Honestly, she did seem a little old and tired, perfect for a newbie like me.  What could go wrong?  Ha!  What didn’t go wrong?

As instructed, I gave the horse’s sides a little kick.  And we were off for the races!  My old, tired girl suddenly had the stamina of a stallion running for the prize cup.  My hard, frantic tugging on the reins and hollering “Whoa!” amounted to nothing.  Apparently she hadn’t been cut loose for a long time and decided I was the perfect novice rider on which to take out her pent up energy. 

We galloped across the open field.  (I wonder if my hair was flowing?)  I had fleeting concerns about her falling into a groundhog hole.  I was also concerned about the treeline ahead that was rocking from side to side in my vision.  I knew I didn’t stand a chance in the woods.  Heck, I didn’t stand a chance in the open field.  I was doomed!!!

Then out of nowhere comes my hunk of burning love — Bob, in case you  didn’t realize it– on a big white horse.  No, I’m not kidding.  He got the big, white horse to accommodate his tall, muscular body.  Who knows how fast he galloped to catch us but, thank God, catch us he did.  He reached out, just like in the movies, grabbed my horse’s bridle, and got ole meek and mild to slow down and finally stop.  I’d had all the galloping I could tolerate for one day.  

We took a slow, quiet ride back to the stable.  I remember the owner’s face; he looked white.  Bob, still in movie fashion, gracefully dismounted from his horse and once again came to my aid.  He offered me his hand and his strength which I stubbornly refused.  I was mad!  I’d get myself off that meek and mild nag so, No, don’t help me!  

I was surprised to discover how heavy my leg felt when I swung it over to dismount.  I could barely lift it; it felt like a bag of sand.  I should’ve taken Bob’s assistance but I was already in motion . . . and I had my pride.  I slid off the side of the horse and much to my surprise my butt hit the ground.  I couldn’t help it.  My weakened legs betrayed the trauma I felt inside; they had no strength to support my body.  Sitting there in the dirt, looking up into Bob’s handsome face, well, that was the end of my pride . . . and the end of my romantic notions involving horseback riding.

That memory made me wonder how many times have I refused God’s help?  How many times has He extended His hand and offered me His strength and I stubbornly denied it? How many times have I assumed I could do it on my own, only to look up from the dirt into His face and realize what a fool I’ve been?

We are in perilous times all across the world.  Our only hope is to take the hand offered us and receive the strength of God.  Join me today in humbling ourselves before the Almighty.  And hear me: We will be humbled.  We can choose to humble ourselves on our own before our God and let Him lift us up in due time or we will fall in the dirt . . .  and ache from saddle sores and butt bruises for days following.  Let’s not refuse the aid of our rescuer.

For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low: . . . And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. And the idols he shall utterly abolish. And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. Isaiah 2:12; 17-19 KJV

Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. Isaiah 3:10

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. James 4:6 KJV

Box of Rocks

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She sat on a large, flat stone beside the spring, a sandal lying on the ground as she rubbed a travel weary foot.  Her bags littered the space around her.  She sighed as she considered having to pick them up and walk again.  She was tired.  No, more than tired.  It was the kind of weariness that began seeping into the marrow of ones bones.  She didn’t know if she could go on one more day.  She didn’t know if she wanted to go on one more day.

Movement, a shadow drawing closer, drew attention from the corner of her eyes.  She discretely lifted the sandal and put it in its rightful place then dropped her foot to the ground.  A man wearing olive colored cotton shorts, a light weight linen button shirt, and brown leather sandals approached the spring.  He nodded a greeting.  A smile revealing white teeth shone in contrast against the deep tan color of his skin.

She suddenly realized she was alone with a stranger in the middle of nowhere.  She  contemplated heaving her heavy bags and moving on.

As if reading her mind the man answered, “There is no need for you to go.”  He motioned to the spring and the large stone upon which she sat.  “Rest.  This is plenty for both of us.”

Her taut muscles eased.  She still did not speak, but nodded.  She watched intently as he cupped his hands and drank his fill.  He splashed water on his face, little beads glistening in his neatly trimmed beard, and then splashed his head which was a mess of unruly short curls.  He looked strong, healthy, all man, yet he possessed an alluring innocent child-likeness.  She didn’t mean to stare, didn’t realize that she was, until he sat on the stone with her and smiled openly.  She felt her cheeks warm and nervously tucked some long, dark hair behind an ear.

He motioned toward her luggage.  “Very nice luggage, but very worn.  You must have been gone for quite a while.  Are you now returning home?”

Home.  A word she hadn’t considered for a long time.  What was home?  It seemed to be a place the whole world longed for yet so very few had the privilege of finding.  She didn’t know how to answer him.

“I suppose your luggage contains cherished souvenirs from your travels,” he continued.  “Would you mind showing me your favorite mementos?”

She squirmed on the stone.  The air seemed to increase by ten degrees.  She marveled that he looked so cool in this unrelenting heat.

Again, as if reading her mind, he pointed to the smallest of her bags.  “Please show Me.”

She was doubtful but his smile was inviting and his hazel eyes sincere.  She couldn’t resist the urge to expose what she’d been carrying to this stranger.  She was certain he’d never believe it.  She knew he would be in shock.  She lifted the smallest of bags onto her lap and pulled out a rock.  Amazingly, the man did not look one bit surprised by what she produced but encouraged her to continue with a nod.  One by one she plucked out rocks and named them.  “The man who cut me off in traffic.  The women at church who would not accept me.  The neighbor who vandalized my property . . . .”  On and on went the list of offense.

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When she was finished, he held out his hand.  “May I?”

One by one she gave him the rocks and one by one he pressed them between his hands and made them powder which the wind took away.  She stared in wonder, suddenly feeling cooler and lighter.

He pointed to the next bag.  “Show Me.”

She did not set the next bag on her lap but began opening it from its place at her feet.  Again, she pulled out one rock at a time and began naming them.  “The peers who thought me too fat, too poor, and too ugly to be part of them.  The teacher who said I’d never amount to anything. The friend of the family who continually compared me to their daughter.  I never measured up . . . .”

“May I?” he asked again.

She briefly hesitated.  These rocks were bigger.  Could he do the same to these as the ones before?  Wanting more relief, she began passing the rocks to him one at a time.  Once again he pressed them to powder and released them to the wind.  She’d never have to carry them again.

His smile enlarged as she turned her face to the sun and took a deep breath.  When was the last time she had noticed the beauty surrounding her and breathed it in?  He let her revel in this newfound feeling before pointing to the largest piece of luggage.

“Show Me.”

She stretched from her seat on the rock and reached for the final piece.  She drug it to her feet and marveled that she had been able to drag it for so long.  But could the man do anything with these rocks?  They were practically boulders.

“Show Me,” he softly repeated.

She slowly unzipped the top of the oblong bag and peered in.  She looked at the man.  Did he really want to see this?  Did she really want to show him?  Suddenly the prior cool and relief she had experienced dissolved.  She broke out into a sweat and her heart  began to race.  As painful as this piece of luggage had been to carry, could she really let it go?  To empty this bag would be emptying herself.  Would there be anything left of her soul?  She gave the man a sideways look.  His eyes possessed no mockery or rejection.

His voice was barely above the sound of the wind but she clearly heard him say, “Trust Me.”

She heaved a very large rock and sat it on her lap.  She felt her cheeks heat with emotion.  “He said he loved me.”  Her voice broke.  “Then he left me . . . .”

The man gently placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.  He let her cry until there were no more tears then motioned for the rock.  She nodded.  He picked it up, placed it between his hands and pressed, and just like that, it was powder.

She blinked away the traces of tears on her lashes.  If he could squash that rock surely he could crush the next.  But the next . . . those wounds ran deep.  She hesitated, took a deep breath, and heaved another rock onto her lap.  Her legs disappeared beneath it.  “The person that . . . that sexually abused . . . me.”  She lay her forehead against the rock, her body shook with sobs.  The man sat silently, waiting for her to be emptied of the pain of that rock.  This time she did not wait for him to ask.  Having no strength to lift it again, she nudged the rock toward him.  He effortlessly lifted it and just as effortlessly pressed it to powder.

Ah, the last two rocks.  She wasn’t going to attempt to heave them.  At the moment, she felt too weak to lift a butterfly.  She bent at the waist and let the cover slip away to reveal the top rock.

“My baby.”  Her voice was barely a whisper.  “The clinician said I’d be relieved . . . .”

Her pain was palpable.  Once again she was engulfed with anger and shame and more regret than any human could conceivably bare without losing their mind.  She didn’t offer that rock right then and the man didn’t ask.

She proceeded.  She forced the remaining fabric of the luggage over the final rock.  How did she carry such monstrosities for as long as she did?  “My dad,” she croaked.  “I was never enough.  Never, ever enough,” she woefully repeated.

The man knelt on the ground, on the other side of the rocks, and looked up into the face of the broken young woman.  He gently tipped her head up by lifting her chin so that her eyes met his.

“May I?”  He asked.

“Yes,” was her hoarse reply.

He placed his strong hands on the top boulder and then the bottom and easily crushed them to powder between his hands as he had the others.  With nothing now in between them, the young woman fell to her knees and threw her arms around the man’s neck.  She sobbed for all she had loved, for all she had lost, for all the liberty she suddenly felt and for all the time passed which she wished she had been free but wasn’t.  When the last of her emotions were spent the man took her by the hand and they both stood.

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“Do you want to see your exchange for the rocks?”

She nodded.

He opened his enclosed hand and revealed a clear-as-glass whole heart.  “It is my gift to you.  Will you receive it?”

She weighed his question carefully.  She instinctively knew that it cost him everything to make her whole.  She also knew it would cost her to keep his gift.  Was she willing to forsake all others for the sake of following him?  She looked into his compassionate eyes and knew there never had been and never would be anyone else like him in her life.  She needed him.  She loved him.  “I will receive,” she whispered.

She closed her eyes and felt a firm yet gentle pressure in her chest where he pressed.  It was pure love and it exploded in her being.  For the first time in years she felt like she was home.

“I will never leave you nor forsake you,” was his solemn vow.

She threw her arms around his neck again and held him tightly.  This time she pulled away, laughing.  “I must go!  I must go tell everyone what you have done!”

“Yes, yes!”  He agreed.  “Tell them so that they all may come.”

She practically skipped away.  She twirled around and blew him a kiss, taking away his presence within her.

His smile lingered as did his gaze.  Then he slowly pivoted and scanned the horizon.  A man, tie askew, jacket crunched in the crook of his arm, loaded down with a brief case and several pieces of luggage was slowly making  his way to the spring.  He was tired.  So very, very tired.

In the distance beyond was another man wearing jeans, a hard hat, and dog tags.  His burden was a huge duffel bag slung over his shoulder and he pushed a large wheel barrow loaded with rocks of assorted sizes.  He could barely lift his boot clad feet . . . .

The Man smiled.  He was ready to receive them.

Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;  Colossians 2:14  KJV

Jesus took everything satan could legally hold against us and canceled it on the cross.  Will you join me today and lay down your box of rocks?  Let’s also ask God to help us see ourselves as He sees us: Flawless when covered by the Blood of the Lamb.  Oh, and let’s not forget to tell everyone what Jesus has done for us.

 

 

When You’re Under It

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My youngest daughter, my mother-in-law and myself were standing outside of a shed/garage type building.  Two doors hung wide open which revealed the contents of hay and tools and random, miscellaneous stuff.  We turned from the cluttered view at the bottom of the drive and looked instead to the road at the top end of the drive.  It was a pretty day.  The trees were full of green leaves.  There was a two story white house sitting to our left on the gently sloping lawn that looked peaceful and inviting.

Suddenly, a very large pink bus drove on the road above.  I’d never seen anything like it.  Rachel and I faced each other, expressions full of amazement and exclaimed at the same time, “A life sized Barbie bus!”  Who would’ve guessed?

When we turned to face the road again, I realized with horror that the bus was backing down the driveway and would soon be upon us.  We did the only thing we could think to do — all three of us went straight to the ground, flat on our backs, just in time.  The bus straddled us.  We lay underneath, unscathed.  I extended my arms straight behind my head, curled my fingers around the bumper, and rolled the bus off of us.  I could do that, you see, because the bus was made of plastic.

Knowing the girls’ deep affection for anything Barbie, I couldn’t wait to tell them this crazy dream.  We all burst out laughing when I told them how I rolled the bus off of us.  It was ludicrous, thinking I could move a bus . . . and that it was made of plastic.

“You know,” I said, “I was afraid when I saw that big rear end coming toward us but I wasn’t afraid while we were underneath it.  I didn’t even pause to consider what we’d do, I simply grabbed a hold of that bumper and pushed.”

Rachel said, “It shows that you never thought you couldn’t move the bus.”

That’s faith, don’t you think?

Some of you may have gotten some bad news recently, maybe even today.  There’s that bill or debt that looms like a ghost in a closet and you’re not sure how it’s gonna get paid.  There’s that doctor’s report that sits like a brick in your gut ’cause the “professionals” have said there’s no hope.  There’s that person who walked out on you, the one who said, and the one you thought, would be there forever.  Now you stand at the door looking out at a big expanse called the world.  It looms like a nightmare before you as you consider walking it alone.

F.E.A.R. is an acronym that stands for:

False

Evidence

Appearing

Real

Did you know, that if you have put your faith in Jesus, all of the bad things above may be factual but they aren’t necessarily true?  If we let the world get in us, then we’re in trouble.  But if we hold the Word of God inside of us then we see the above examples of “bad news” through a different lens.

 

Fact:  I have bill/debt and I’m not sure how it’s gonna get paid.

Truth: This bill/debt will be paid because God said He will supply all my need according to His riches in glory.  (Philippians 4:19)  I am not impoverished because Jesus became poor so that I might become rich.  (2 Corinthians 8:9)

 

Fact:  The doctor says there’s no hope.

Truth:  There’s always hope because Jesus says that by His stripes I am healed.  (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24)  I will not die but will live to tell what the LORD has done for me.  (Psalm 118:17)

 

Fact:  My loved one is gone and I am alone.

Truth: I am not alone for Jesus said He will never leave me nor forsake me.  (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5  *Hebrews 13:5 is really cool to read in the Amplified version.)

 

These are simple examples of how to combat the facts of life with the truth of God’s Word.  Joshua 24:15 says to choose whom you will serve.  Our choice.  Is choosing truth easy?  Not necessarily.  It requires discipline which requires persistence and consistence.  I wrote often in earlier posts about not being conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2) — which happens by being submersed in the Word.  Carving out time for God and His Word can be difficult at times, especially when life is coming at us full tilt.  But making Him a priority brings great joy, peace, and an enlightening view to all that life brings.  Even when I’m frustrated, angry, or in shock over what’s going on in the world around me, it’s difficult for me not to look at it all through God’s scope.  That’s where God needs His people to be.  We must quit looking at the world around us and seeing what we see.  Instead we need to ask, “What does God see?  More importantly, what does He say about it?”  Do you realize how much peace we would have if we’d all view life the Creator’s way?

That’s God’s Word Girl’s offering for today.  If you feel like the bus of life is on top of you, realize it’s made of plastic.  Curl your fingers around the bumper and push.  We can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).  With God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).  Join me today in pushing off the weight of F.E.A.R. that this world has to offer and trade it for childlike faith in our unfailing God.

 

Want What You Need

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A minister friend of ours gave a wonderful illustration that has been brought to my memory recently.

Something of his had broken, (I don’t recall what), and he went to the hardware store in search of what he wanted to repair it.  He browsed around and had difficulty deciding what would do the job.  He snagged a man who worked there, told him what he needed repaired, and showed him what he was looking at.  The salesclerk told him what he wanted was no good.

“You can buy it if you want but that isn’t what you need.”  The clerk then proceeded to give our friend what he needed and it worked.

“The part was what I wanted,” he told the congregation, “but it’s not what I needed.

A relative of ours is going to be laid off in the near-future.  As the couple is used to two incomes, and hers is the main one, I felt for them.  I went to bed with tears in my eyes and prayers on my lips for them that night.  Then I got to thinking about the many people that are in their situation, or who have been in their situation for a while now, mostly due to the very destructive covid.  My desire is to encourage our relatives and you during this time.

As I mentioned before, we have been a one income family pretty much our entire married life.  Bob and I agreed that when the children came I would stay home with them.  No one was raising our children except for us.  When I lived at home, Mum was our anchor.  She “kept the home fires burning”, so to speak, which gave Dad the freedom to provide for us financially.  That brought a great deal of stability to our family.  Bob had pretty much the same as far as that goes so we wanted that for our children.  Mum did get a part time job when we were older but she was nearly always home to greet us when we returned from school.

Homeschooling spoiled that for us.  I wasn’t gifted enough to balance being a housewife, homeschooling, and working outside of the home so we’ve never had the benefit of another income.  I’ve mentioned in other posts that it was hard.  We went without “things” that other families had to fulfill the mission of my being home to raise and educate our children.  The thing is, we never really suffered for our choice.  On the contrary, it has been an exceedingly wonderful blessing.  I wouldn’t trade all of the wealth of the world for what we have gained in character as a family.

Yes, there were tough times.  When we were very first married, I bounced some checks.  Bob used the bank card for gas and forgot to tell me.  Next thing we know, a financial ball of deficit began rolling.  I never really understood banks punishing people like that.  I mean, if I had the money, checks wouldn’t be bouncing, right?  So take more money.  Yeah, that helps.  Anyway, the lesson of communication involving finances was quickly learned.

There was the time our auto insurance was due and I couldn’t pay it.  There simply wasn’t enough.  We were blessed if we carried a $100 balance from one paycheck to the next.  There was no savings account for me to raid.  I remember taking the bill and saying, “LORD, this is required by law.  There’s nothing I can do about it.  You said You’d provide all of our needs according to Your riches in glory.  We need this so here You go.  I don’t know how, but thanks in advance for taking care of it.”

Bob hit a deer on his way to work.  After making the necessary repairs to the car, we took what remained and paid our bill.  I still find it ironic that we used what was left of the insurance check to pay the insurance bill.  Don’t tell me that God doesn’t have a sense of humor.

Do you remember me telling you when the girls wanted iPods that Bob told them if they wanted them they’d have to pray them in because he couldn’t afford them?  Well, they prayed and all of them had iPods given to them plus one.

That’s the way it’s been with us.  We haven’t always gotten what we wanted and we certainly haven’t gotten what we wanted in our timetable.  Some wants have been tucked away in the closets of our minds for years.  But we have never failed to have what we needed--and often times we have been blessed with what we wanted.  The camper that we purchased four years ago wasn’t necessarily what we wanted, but when I walked inside it felt like home.  I knew it was meant for us.  God knew it was what our family needed.

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Same with our “new” truck.  Bob’s prior truck was taken from him through a wreck over ten years ago.  Ten years we have limped by with different trucks that were never equal to what satan had stolen from him.  I kept quoting the scripture that when the thief is found he must restore sevenfold (Proverbs 6:31).  The truck we just purchased isn’t exactly what we wanted, but for what we’re going to use it for it’s what we need.  You know what?  It’s the nicest truck Bob has had in years.  I look at him sitting in it and I think: It’s like he sat down and they built the truck around him.  It was meant for him.  Not what I would have went out of my way to buy, but it’s the one.

God always provides.  Always.  It may not be what we want when we want but it’s always what we need.  And, I might add, no matter how frustrated we are in the waiting, He provides on time.  People may not be obedient to God to supply a need when He directs, but He always provides on time.

Are you willing to join me in laying down what you think you want for what God says you need?  I testify to you today that His desires for us are so closely related to what we want that in many cases we aren’t going to notice a difference.  As a matter of fact, we will most likely find praise escaping our lips for what He has provided.  It may not be exactly what we thought we wanted, but we will find that it is exactly what we needed.  In time, we will find it to be the better thing.  Let’s give Him a chance to give us His best for Father God is faithful and good.

 

 

Naked

adult bridal bride brunette
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As a single woman, I was excited when a friend of the family had a dream of me standing at the altar in a wedding gown.  I was radiantly beautiful and filled with joy.  She didn’t see much of the groom, just enough to know that he was black-haired.  She was as giddy about her revelation as if I’d told her that day that I was engaged to be married. 

My eventual upcoming wedding brought excitement, joy, and reverential fear of the unknown.  My anticipation eclipsed the fear.  Bob was quite the catch.  The LORD had blessed me with this man.  We were well suited one for another.  All would be well.  Only, it wasn’t.  Life has a way of banging us up pretty good sometimes.

Mum had a vision of me in a wedding gown years later.  This vision was different from our friend’s in that I was not looking forward in joy and beauty.  I, instead, was looking over my shoulder at the very, very long train behind me.  (For the record, my actual wedding gown was made of ivory lace with a handkerchief hem; I had no train.)  The train represented the cares of the world that I was dragging behind me (Mark 4:19).  We had 3 children in less than 4 years of marriage.  Money was tight.  But the thing that tore at me most was the stress from Bob’s job in law enforcement that drove him to levels of anger that I never saw coming.  I felt isolated.  I felt cheated of the man I thought I married.  Sometimes I questioned God’s wisdom in joining us together.

I knew the man I loved was still in there.  I saw glimpses of him.  But it wasn’t enough.  I wanted him to counsel with somebody and work things out but he wouldn’t.  His unwillingness to reach out and his outbursts were vey damaging.  What’s worse was the damage I was creating with my unforgiveness and resentment toward him.  Instead of joy, anticipation, and the radiant beauty of a bride, I had become a haggard, bitter, and ugly wife.  Oh, I fought all of the negativity, fought it with all my might, but I never seemed to get a total grip on it because I was trying to remedy what was going on in our family largely in my own strength.  If Bob were to be honest, he’d say it was the same for him.  Being an incredibly strong man, physically and mentally, he isn’t accustomed to depending on anyone or anything else.

I think, when my cesspool began to drain, and I had little left to look at, what hurt me the most were two things:

1. That I hadn’t been stronger for Bob’s sake.  I didn’t take things to the LORD as I should.  I boiled in my own anger rather than peer in and be honest about where it was coming from.  I knew I shouldn’t feel the way I should, but I was too ashamed to give it to the only One who could do anything about it.

2. I was hurt that Bob didn’t turn to me with his troubles.  I was angry with him for coping with the worst of situations the way he did–the only way He knew how–he stuffed what was going on.  He didn’t share his pain with me, his helpmate, the one pledged to him “for better or for worse”.  He shut me out.  What he viewed as protection I viewed as rejection.  After years of this type of struggle, I was emotionally bankrupt.  I was devoid of my emotions.  Dead.  I went to God and stood naked before Him.

“I can’t do this,” I confessed to Him.  “I can’t love and forgive Bob on my own.  I don’t have anything left.”  In exchange for my nakedness, God clothed me with strength, peace, love, and, so vital to me surviving my then broken heart, . . . hope.

A friend of mine just recently told me how she took advantage of the kids playing outside.  She went into her sunlit bedroom, stripped down to her birthday suit, and waited for her husband.  She was warmed to her toes when, after 15 years of marriage and added, unwanted pounds, he took one look at her and said, “God, you’re beautiful.”  He didn’t see the pain of their pasts, both as individuals and as a couple.  What he saw was a picture of the bride of his youth, growing in grace, being made whole, offering herself and all that she is to him and him only.

That’s a picture of Jesus and those who He calls His own.

Marriage is hard work.  Anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you beach front property in a swamp.  Likewise, being a disciple of Christ is hard work.  However, staying committed to both brings a rich sweetness that can’t be explained; it must be experienced.

I wouldn’t trade Bob for anyone.  He is God’s chosen for me.  Some days we drive each other nuts, but we’re nuts hanging in the same tree.  We don’t always know what we’re doing but God does.

Neither would I trade the road we’ve traveled together, potholes, boulders, and all, for anything.  Romans 8:28 stands: God still makes all things work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  We can change our minds as to whether or not we want to believe God, but He hasn’t changed His mind.  Tests have become testimonies when left in His capable hands.

Words alone aren’t enough to express the gratitude I feel for God’s saving grace and His mercy extended toward us.  I can tell other broken couples that there is Hope.  His name is Jesus.  I can’t explain how, but He makes all things new, both as individuals and as couples.  And He does it after we stand naked before Him.  Expose the dirt, the pain, the shame, the wounds, expose it all, and lay it at His feet.  It may not be the type of gift we would want, but it’s just what He’s always wanted: transparent hearts yearning after Him.  When we do this, all He sees is someone presenting themselves wholly to Him, heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Stay committed to your spouse (where applicable).  Stay committed to God.  Let’s not offer Jesus a haggard “wife”, one consumed with the bitterness, unforgiveness, or the cares of this world.  Instead, let’s be a joyful and radiant Bride who is fully trusting in Him and is eager for His return.

Join me today in “getting naked” before God.  That’s the place where things are made right and blessings flow.

*Despite your situation, reaching out for help and support is no cause for shame.  Doing so may save yourself and your loved ones a lot of unnecessary grief.  Please don’t struggle alone.  We were never meant to do life alone.

Springing Up Winnie

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Years ago we had a neighbor named Winnie.  Winnie was what one might call a “salt of the earth” type of person.  She was plain in appearance and very practical.  While I drag out curtains and linens from my attic to usher in the change of seasons, she owned a single wreath in which the center piece could be switched to mark the seasons.  That was it.

She had a quick wit, was well versed, had a good sense of humor, was very conversational, and was an overall nice person to know.  I enjoyed having her as a neighbor.

Winnie loved flowers and, given her simplistic nature, opted for perennial flowers and greenery.  It was not unusual to see her digging in the dirt or planning where or what she would sink next.  She was totally at ease in her yard.

Some years into our neighborship, Winnie got cancer.  She battled.  And every time she ended one treatment she guessed what her new hair color would be.  Yes, it grew back different from her original mousy brown.  If memory serves, even the texture of her hair changed.  She accepted that challenging part of her life with the grace and humor that reflected her relationship with God until, at last, she succumbed to that horrible disease.

Living between two highways, I don’t normally walk the road.  I especially don’t have much cause to walk in front of Winnie’s former home.  But this past spring, as I walked that stretch of highway, I paused and smiled as I gazed upon the loveliness of her plants from years ago.  They stand as a testament to her simple, beautiful, faith filled life, and return every year, bringing along with them memories of Winnie.  Thinking of Winnie and her flowers made me wonder what I will leave behind that may bring back memories of me to others.  Have you ever wondered what you will leave behind?

Not so long ago, Bob was considering his lot in life; that is, having no sons on which to pass on his name.  In a house full of females he is odd man standing.  It was in this tumult of thoughts that Bob heard today’s featured song and his attitude changed.  Suddenly, having a son on which to pass on his name, his legacy, wasn’t of utmost importance.

Maybe some of us will be immortalized in history.  But, given the current atmosphere here in the United States of America (and perhaps other places in the world), while we are witnessing history being distorted and destroyed, having our names in books doesn’t ensure remembrance either.  (If your name is to be found in a book, make sure it’s the Book of Life mentioned in Revelation 20:15.  For anyone whose name is not found in it will be thrown into the lake of fire.  Not good!)  What does guarantee your memory here on planet earth?  Nothing, really.  That is why Jesus is the only name to remember.  Bob could have seven sons but would his name echo through the  generations?  His name, probably not.  But the essence in which he raised them, most likely, yes.

One day we will all stand before our Creator and we will answer to Him and Him alone for the gift of life He has given to us.  He’s not going to inquire about the houses we owned, or the cars we drove, the colleges our kids went to or the prestige, fame, or fortune we may or may not have had.  His only question: “What did you do with My Son, Jesus?”  Ultimately we are only one of two things: We are believers in Christ Jesus, making us sons and daughters of God or . . . we are not.

How you feel today is of no consequence.  There are days I don’t feel married but it doesn’t change the fact that I am.  Regardless of how you feel, are you or are you not a child of God?  I hope you will join me today with a resounding “Yes!”  For everything else in this life is insignificant in the light of eternity.

 

A Good Man

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(May this be of some encouragement to you men.)

Our pastor recently announced that he is taking another pastorate.  Not attending our church at the time, I didn’t witness firsthand the broken, hurting mess into which he entered, but you should see the work he and his family have done.  It is more than commendable, it may be considered somewhat of a miracle.  But do you know what thought jarred me when I was pondering his departure?  I wonder if whoever takes his place is going to make us feel as safe as he has.  “Safe” is such an overused word now that I almost hate to write it, but that is how Pastor Chris makes people feel.  One of the first things I heard him say as a pastor is that if he knew of any woman being abused he would go to that man and take care of it.  Given his size, I wouldn’t doubt it.  In fact, years later, he would mention in one of his sermons that he thought he could take nearly any man he knew–except for maybe my Bob.  He wasn’t sure he’d ever want to contend with him 🙂 .

That was one of my lures to Bob.  I felt so incredibly protected by him.  I didn’t fear the “outside world”; I had my own personal bodyguard.  However, a man doesn’t have to be large in size to cause the people around him to feel that way.  I’ve met men who look like formidable defenders but I don’t feel safe in their presence.  The opposite is true of men who may be smaller but I feel totally covered while in their company.  I personally believe that is one of the factors of telling if you are in the presence of a good  man: Do you feel safe?  Protected?  Guarded?  His strength is a gift.

There are many different ways to feel safe.  The obvious is physical.  But what about mental?  A good man considers the ideas of others.  He can accept the idea and the presenter is strengthened and perhaps a plan is developed to see that idea to fruition.  Or if the idea is rejected, a good man does so in such a way that the presenter’s dignity is still in tact and they are encouraged to continue in their quests and pursue their dreams.  His consideration is a gift.

There is also emotional safety.  Many men that I know grew up believing that men don’t cry.  It’s a sign of weakness, or so the uninformed in their lives have taught them.  John 11:35 says, “Jesus wept.”  You can’t get anymore manly than Jesus.  The greatest Man in history wept.  A good man can be trusted with your tears and your laughter and he will also trust you with his.  The most precious tears I remember my dad sharing is when he was in prayer or when he was apologizing to us over something wrong that he had done.

Did you catch that?  My dad cried tears of repentance.

Years ago we had an optometrist and he and his wife yearned for children but couldn’t have any.  Miraculously, they conceived.  I was so happy for them.  I sent a card to them and my note in part was: You have waited for so long for this moment and you are going to want to do everything perfect.  Rest assured,  you will not.  What I recommend to you is that you take your mistakes and failings and treat them as opportunities to apologize and teach your child about the grace, forgiveness, and redemption of our perfect God. 

A good man owns his mistakes.  He doesn’t blame others for them.  He apologizes when wrong and his apology doesn’t include the words, “You made me . . . ”  He owns his actions and words.  And when others sin against him he gives grace, realizing that he is capable of committing the same sins.  His repentance and forgiveness is a gift.

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I admire men.  There are few things that are more appealing to me than seeing a man hard at work.  Whether he’s carrying a briefcase, packing a gun, tossing hay bales, stocking shelves, sweating over the Word, digging dirt, pounding nails, turning a wrench, performing surgery, searching for a cure, whatever.  Honest work is honorable.  I guess that goes back to the scripture that a man who doesn’t work doesn’t deserve to eat.

There are few things sexier to me than seeing Bob work in his garage.  I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true (unless he’s grappling with swearing over the tool that slipped and his knuckle got sliced 😉 ).  I marvel over Bob’s capacity to fix the many things he has repaired over the course of our marriage.  I asked him once, “How do you know how to do all of this stuff?”  His answer totally surprised me.  “I don’t,” he said, “I wing it.”  Well, I testify to you today that he wings it pretty good.  Just for the record, the most attractive man ever?  The man whose heart is bowed in humility before the LORD.  His service to others is a gift.

A good man, out of love for God, family, and country, isn’t afraid to try.  Let me rephrase that.  Maybe he is afraid, but he does what he does afraid and does it anyway out of love.  Remember that phrase from long ago, Do it afraid?  I have a quotation tucked in my mind when I feel fear fluttering like so many butterflies in my belly and threatening to close off my throat.  The quotation is something like this: At the end of my life, it is not the things that I did do that I will regret so much but the things that I didn’t do.  His effort is a gift.

Men, you are pleasing to your Creator.  You are good husbands and good fathers.  Your life is filled with wonder.  All of what you desire is already in you.  It is how God made you.  Commit to seeing yourselves the way Father God sees you.  Cooperate with Holy Spirit in molding you into the men you were created to be.  No matter what earthly models you have had, there is no one more concerned or invested in your life than your heavenly Father.  I know giving your hearts and hands to the unseen and the unknown is frightening but I encourage you to do it afraid.  Do it anyway.  Do it for God.  Do it for those you love.  Do it for yourself.  You deserve to give yourself a chance.  And not just one chance, but as many chances as you need.  You are loved, men.  And you are needed in ways and to lengths that you can not imagine.  I challenge you to join yourself wholeheartedly to God today and let your adventure begin.  This is the greatest gift that you could ever give to God, yourself, and others.

Happy Father’s Day to the man who raised me.  I love you Dad!

Happy Father’s Day to the man with whom I share my life and made a family.  I love you Robert!

A Happy Father’s Day to all of you dads out there.

Men, rememeber: Do not be consumed with real or perceived failings or mistakes for they are all opportunities for grace, forgiveness, and redemption in God’s hands.  What the world needs now, what the world has always needed, is good men.  Families, communities, states and nations all need men who will rise up and live out the biblical standard to be the priests, providers, and protectors that God has ordained you to be.  Be those men.  We need you!

He Loves Me

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(The Proclamation of) The Daisy

I snap off the last daisy to be seen.

I pluck the long, narrow, white petals one by one and rehearse:
“He loves me, he loves me not . . .”

At last, 3 petals remain.

“He loves me, he loves me not . . .”

I stare in wonder at the round, yellow head, with the last petal still attached.

It proclaims: “He loves me!”

At the sound of shuffling in the thick, green grass,

I look up, shielding my eyes from the bold, beautiful sun.

He strolls across the lawn,

confidently wearing that familiar boy-like smile

beneath the shadow of his favorite ball cap.

One more pleasant glance at the daisy

and a wistful sigh for days of fleeting youth.

I toss the daisy aside and take his hand in mine.

I smile.  I know he loves me.

~Christi Marie

Love is a splendid thing.  It makes the homely attractive.  It makes the poor rich.  It makes the weak strong.  It makes the old young.  It makes the captive free.  It makes the broken whole.  It sets the lonely in families.  It remembers those who were forgotten and forgets the pain of an offense.   

In I Corinthians chapter 13, the Apostle Paul says it like this:

Love suffers long, and is kind; love envies not; love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up,

Does not behave itself rudely, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, keeps no record of evil;

Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;

Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails . . . .

Love never fails.  Never.

Look around.  What do you see?  Failing.  Why?  Selfishness.  Everything love builds and supports, selfishness tears down and annihilates.  Pride–me, Me, ME!!!  Remember what God did?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

God was fully aware of the problem.  The people that He loved, the people He created to have fellowship with Him and be His family, were completely derailed and by their own doing.  He didn’t keep accounts of the wrong they had done or let them wallow in the mess they made.  Instead, He absorbed all of the pain, even unto the death of their sin, through His Son Jesus Christ, so that they might be saved and have eternal life.  He is still doing that for us today.  That is the epitome of love.  The exact opposite of selfishness.

If all of us could but . . . love.  Just love.  How much simpler would our world be?

It’s hard though, isn’t it?  To lay down injustice.  To give up revenge.  To quit poking the wound.  What if we would do it anyway?  Give it all up?  What if we would take a deep breath and pray, “LORD, there’s no way I’m doing this on my own, but if You’ll help me, I can do this.  Remind me what it felt like to be wholly surrendered to You, trusting You to work all things for my good.  Remind me of my first taste of Your love and deepen it.  Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation.  And help me love the unlovable like You do.”

Life can be good.  Life is good.  We don’t need to pluck the petals off of daisies to know that God loves us.  Just know that He does.  Join me today and take the time to reflect on those moments when Jesus, Lover of our souls, felt as close to us as our own skin.  Let’s not keep Him waiting.  We need Him and our broken world needs us to share His love.

 

Happy Anniversary Robert.  I Love You.

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Not Much More Than Five Feet Tall

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We received a newsletter from a local church that had painted a mental mural of a family based on passages from Psalm 127 and 128.  When speaking of the wife, apparently being home, raising the children, they asked, “Does she appear to be suppressed by her station in life?”

It gave me pause to remember and ponder.  Bob and I agreed early on that when the children came, I would remain home with them.  They came quicker than we anticipated but they were a welcome addition.  At delivery, Laura was briefly laid at my shoulder where I could get a good look at her and I remember thinking, “Wow, a whole, beautiful, little person.”

I love being a mom.

I have also loved being a homeschooling mom.  When I think what a privilege it has been for me to watch my children grow in wisdom, and knowledge, and stature, and to think that I had a front row seat to it all, I am overwhelmed.  I am literally reduced to tears of gratitude.  They have been and are such a blessing to me.  And to others.  Being a mom is not without its bumps, bruises, and battles, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  These moments and memories I have had with my children are precious jewels in my treasure chest.  Back to our initial question: Are mothers suppressed?  Not this mother!  Definitely not!

I couldn’t think about being a mom without thinking about my maternal grandmother.  (My paternal grandmother passed away when I was young).  Gram was a delight to me.  She was bright, passionate about life and family, generous with the little she had, readily laughed, and eagerly tried new recipes.  Tell you what, she made the best nut twist cookies I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.  If she’s willing, I hope God lets her bake me a batch when we meet again in Heaven.

In paraded thoughts of Mum, Gram’s only daughter in a satchel full of boys.  To meet Gram, one would never have guessed the life she had with Pap.  Mum describes him as “a hard man”.  He didn’t think girls were worth much.  Though others complimented Mum’s singing, he thought it was okay, but a little eh–whatever that means.  Once when Gram insisted he look over the report cards, he did say Mum’s was the best in the bunch–probably the closest she ever came to receiving a compliment from him even though she graduated second in her class.

Lest you think Mum dissed Pap to me, she didn’t.  I discovered these things as an adult although it didn’t require genius status for me to draw my own conclusions when I was younger.  I know that Pap wasn’t without good qualities, for we are all a strange combination of good and bad.  Pap once threw an abusive brother-in-law in a pond; but then dropped Gram off at the hospital to have a mastectomy.  Alone.  Maybe he couldn’t process that.

Mum said he did soften in his older years, when he became diabetic and had health issues to deal with.  Up until then maybe he counted on his own strength.  He was incredibly strong, straightening a dent in the fender of a Model T with his huge, bare hands.

Still, Mum had a lot to overcome.  Pap didn’t attend her wedding, saying he didn’t lose much there.  That could mortally wound any daughter’s heart . . . .

Here’s the thing: Mum did overcome.

She went on to publish a devotional, kept singing and writing songs, made a 45 record, and become a minister.  Like Gram, she’s one smart cookie; ever studying, trying new recipes, and crafting.  She has a tender heart for the downtrodden and has for years lent a listening ear to those who need it.  She’s a good friend.  She’s thoughtful and giving.  What I appreciate the most, her spiritual insight.  Other than the few little prayers Gram taught her as a child, and a stern warning that “God doesn’t like that” when she imitated Pap’s foul language as a child, she had no knowledge of God.  Pap had reneged on his word that Gram could attend church after they wed so they were for better or worse, an overall “heathen” family.  Yet look how far she has come.

I’m proud of Mum.  She didn’t bring her wounds into mothering my brother and me.  Was she without faults?  No.  Who among us is?  But there is simply something grande about knowing where she came from as a child and the woman she has come to be.  There is hope in Jesus Christ.  Living a hard life doesn’t need make one a hard person.  Gram proved it.  Mum proved it.  The wounds of the past needn’t be carried into the future and injected into the next generation.  Wounds can be healed.  And out of those wounds can come strength and wholeness when God is invited in to do His work.  There is no hard situation into which a child is conceived and born that God cannot redeem if He is permitted to do so.  Lies need to quit being perpetuated.  Children are a gift from God.  Being a mother is a blessing.  Wounds can be healed.

Join me today in thanking the mother in your life.  If she knows Jesus and led you to Him, thank her.  If she knows Jesus and you’ve resisted or strayed away, give her the best mother’s day gift ever and Come Home.  If you know Jesus and your mother doesn’t, then present Him to her.  She brought you into this world, maybe you can lead her into the next.

 

For living a faith-filled, transparent life, loving me, supporting me and being a wonderful mother and grandmother, thank you.  I love you Mum.

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