Appreciation

Something I am reminded of often, in order to have true appreciation, I have to ask for it. It is so easy to take my life for granted. I can easily fall into the place of complaining and ungratefulness. This is especially true in my marriage. I have found myself slipping into the place of taking my wonderful husband for granted. I easily get into the place of complaining about the little things and forgetting what an impact my words have on his heart. My prayer for some time is that I would be able to step out of the critical mode and into the appreciative mode. I drive myself nuts, I can’t imagine how my poor hubby feels!

Lately I have been blessed with memories of when we were first dating and married. Clear memories and the flood of emotions that go with them. I have been remembering how excited I would be when I was going to see him, how heart wrenching it was when we had to part. A reminder if how luck  I am to have this man by my side every single day. I get to see his handsome face every morning and fall asleep in his embrace each night. I cannot take this for granted. I have a wonderful husband that is perfect for me. We balance each other out in ways only God can understand. He has made me a better woman, a better mother and a better friend.

Today I just wanted to share this with you all and remind you to take a step back each day and remember the reasons you have to be happy. you may be in a rough spot in life and you may feel overwhelmed, but you will come out of it if you allow God to work in it. He will show you the beauty that surrounds you if you open your heart and ask Him to. It may not come quickly and you will struggle still, but you will also find pockets of pure excitement and appreciation as well. Ask and He will deliver. Our God is always on our side and wants us to be happy in the life He has provided to us. Only we can get in the way.

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Love them how they need to be loved

Yesterday was an interesting day for me and I want to share my experience with you all. I will continue the study in Proverbs later on today, I though this was too important to not post.

Relationships are tough at times and we can often experience the biggest conflicts with those closest to us. Marriage is no exception. Married life is full huge challenges. Our culture treats marriage as expendable. I have experienced divorce in my past and I find it crazy how high the divorce rates are, especially among Christians.

Marriage is not easier among Christians, it is just as difficult. Maybe even be more challenging in some ways. The biggest difference is that we have a relationship with with our Almighty Creator and He is working in our marriages,  if we let Him. We are called to something higher and God will do the work that needs to be done if we bring it before Him.

Today I want to remind us all that our spouse is a gift from God, even though it may not always feel like it. In marriage we challenge each other in ways no one else possibly could. Growth is not always pretty. Transformation can be ugly when we’re in the midst of it. It’s important that we remember that. My husband has challenged me in ways I never thought possible and it’s been very difficult at times, but I can look back and see just how far we’ve grown together. I need to remember how far those past challenges have brought us so that I can look at current challenges in a different light. No one pushes me out of my comfort zone like my hubby. How I handle that and respond is up to me.

My husband is not perfect,  nor should I expect him to be. I know I am far from perfect and often have to repent for my actions. This is a good thing! If we were to disillusion ourselves into thinking we are perfect,  we would miss out on the beauty that comes out of being together. If we are in a place of neutrality then we may very well be skirting over some major issues. Not that every day should be difficult. However, if I am not feeling challenged and my perspective is not being challenged then I think it is time to look at myself and see if I am choosing to remain in a stagnant place. Life is a process of never ending growth and deepening of understanding. Some lessons are harder to learn than others. However, I feel there is always a lesson to be learned.

Yesterday I experienced an example of my husband’s imperfection. He was wrong in many ways and I was hurt deeply by his actions. Later on he wanted to hug me as I was trying to go about the things that needed to be done and I pushed him away because I wasn’t ready to accept his affection. As I thought about it, I could feel Jesus reminding me to love him how he needs me to love him, not how I think he deserves to be. This blew me away. this is not a new concept, but it hit deep this time.

I still struggled for a bit and pondered this idea. Of course we should love others how they need us to. None of us deserve very much when you think about how horrible we can be in our flesh. We certainly didn’t deserve Jesus sacrificing Himself on that cross,  but He loved us so much that He gave us what we needed. We need His grace, mercy and forgiveness. If He just gave us all what we deserve we would be trouble!

I listened to that small voice from within and loved my husband how he needed me to in that moment. He was sorry for how he treated me, he talked about it and healing took place in that moment. If I had decided to continue to push him away, shut down and reject him, we would be in a very different place this morning. A place of anger, pain and suffering. Instead we’re in a place of forgiveness,  love and healing. This is a much better place to be. I know, because we’ve been in that other place and it’s not pretty.

I had a choice. I could react to the hurt and choose to clam up and shut down or I could honor my husband and God and love him beyond that. I had to put myself aside and to be vulnerable before him in the way he needed me to be. He knew he was wrong. I knew he was lashing out die to stressors beyond his control. This does not excuse his actions at all. He came to me in true repentance, I forgave and loved him through it. Isn’t this what we are to do with Jesus? How can I expect my husband to live to a higher standard than the one our Lord and Savior has set for us?

This is a lesson that I have had the privilege of learning in many ways. This applies to all relationships in our lives. Instead of shutting down and condemning people for being human, what a world it would be if we instead chose love and kindness in these moments.

We’re all far from perfect and we don’t always make the best choices but I’d like us all to keep this lesson in our hearts today.

Love them how the need us to, not how they deserve to be loved.

In the previous name of our Lord Jesus.

Proverbs Study Day 5

Welcome to day 5. Let us see what God’s Word has for us today! Have you found His Words resonating with you throughout the day? Do you feel His love and kindness deepening in your heart? I hope these things for us all.

 


Proverbs 5

Avoid Immoral Women

My son, pay attention to my wisdom; listen carefully to my wise counsel. Then you will show discernment, and your lips will express what you’ve learned. For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil. But in the end she is as bitter as poison, as dangerous as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. For she cares nothing about the path of life. She staggers down a crooked trail and doesn’t realize it. So now, my sons, listen to me. Never stray from what I am about to say: Stay away from her! Don’t go near the door of her house! If you do, you will lose your honor and will lose to merciless people all you have achieved. Strangers will consume your wealth, and someone else will enjoy the fruit of your labor. In the end you will groan in anguish when disease consumes your body. You will say, “How I hated discipline! If only I had not ignored all the warnings! Oh, why didn’t I pay attention to my teachers? Why didn’t I pay attention to my instructions? I have come to the brink of utter ruin, and now I must face public disgrace” Drink water from your own well – share your love only with your wife. Why spill the water of your springs in the streets, having sex with just anyone? You should reserve it for yourselves. Never share it with strangers. Let your wife be a fountain o blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. She is a loving deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always be captivated by her love. Why be captivated, my son, by an immoral woman, or fondle the breasts of a promiscuous woman? For the LORD sees clearly what a man does, examining every path he takes. An evil man is held captive by his own sin; they are ropes that catch and hold him. He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his great foolishness.


What have I taken away from this chapter today:

First part to really hit home is the fact that I was that woman once. Before I came to Jesus, I was the woman who was lost in promiscuity and sin. I can look back and see all the wreckage I left in my wake as I walked in that sin and carelessness, and I was clueless. I truly staggered down crooked trailed and didn’t realize it. It breaks my heart to think of all the people in this world that still live in that place. My heart also sings for joy in the fact that my God saves and now shows me the straight path He lies before me. I didn’t deserve to be saved and I still don’t, but Jesus died on that cross for us all in His Love.

Secondly, I am struck with the pains of infidelity in marriage. As Solomon is describing the wickedness of infidelity I am reminded that he is speaking from personal experience. He has known and tasted the pain and the captivity of that sin. I would say that we all listen to his words, inspired by the Almighty, and avoid that experience for ourselves. Unfortunately it seems to have become so much the norm in our culture and that breaks my heart.

Sin is a sneaky captive. If we are not careful, if we do not wrap ourselves up in the knowledge and power that God so freely offers to us, we can easily get wrapped up in sin.

My prayer today:

Almighty God, today I come before You and pray that this heart be opened to Your light, love, power and wisdom. You are my strength and I can trust You in all things. I pray that You shine Your loving light on the places I need to let You into. The place that I am unaware of that hold me captive. The sins that I have chosen to ignore and that have been holding me back. I want to accept the freedom You offer. I have tasted of the freedom and love you bestow upon Your children and I want more. I pray for these things in your Son’s Holy and precious name for myself and for all reading this today. Amen

Marriage is….

Beautiful, difficult, exhausting, fulfilling…what do you think?

I think relationships of all kinds are challenging and that is a good thing! We need to be challenged in order to grow. My friends challenge me differently than my children, who challenge me differently than my husband and so on.

Lately I have been reading a few books, articles and listening to podcasts that have revolved around marriage and want to share with you a few points that really hit home. I think we all need to be reminded of these key points.

  • Your partner is not responsible for your happiness.

Again, I think this can apply to all relationships we encounter. We are not responsible for another’s happiness, nor should we rely on them to bring us happiness. The thing is that we need to find our own happiness in this life. We make that choice every day. Those we choose to have relationships with in our lives can most definitely enhance our happiness, but they are not meant to be the source.

‘The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoices; and with my song I will praise him.’ – Psalm 28:7

Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior and He needs to be the source of my happiness. This does not belittle the happiness my husband brings to my life. Quite the opposite takes place when I put this into action. When I decided that I was expecting too much from my husband and that I needed to really look deep inside myself to see what was missing, I found that I was expecting my husband to fill a place in me that is only meant for the Spirit. Sure I was still praying and studying and asking God to fill my life, but something was off. I was essentially expecting my husband to be perfect. I was not extending the same Grace that is extended to me with each and every breath I take. I was holding my poor husband up to a standard that he could never meet. I was stunting his growth by not allowing him the space he needed. I was stunting my own growth by expecting him to satisfy my every need. I expected him to read my mind, know my thoughts, see my emotional turmoil and to respond in the exact manner I wanted him to. Well, that is just impossible. There is only one that knows my inner most needs and that is Jesus.

‘You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’ – Acts 2:28

When I saw what was happening and decided to make changes, my marriage was transformed. It was difficult to make the changes needed, but God is faithful and He has brought me such a long way. I know that I have a long road ahead of me, but I am already seeing the fruit being produced in my obedience.

  • We are to minister to one another.

I don’t know about you, but I was in a place where I thought I was ministering to my husband, but I was really just telling him what he was doing wrong. When you are in as intimate a relationship as a marriage, you see the good, the bad and the ugly in that other person. They also have the great pleasure of seeing these things in you. At this time, I believe you have another choice. You can start weighing the good and the bad, take notes, and hand them a plan for how they can be a better person. The other option is to love them completely and walk beside them on their journey. We need to be ministering to each other, this includes our spouses.

“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” – I Peter 4:10

There is no competition in marriage. Really, we should not be competing with anyone, not spiritually. We all have our own, unique walk and cannot race to a finish line. It is my job to minister to my husband. Without manipulation! I have begun to see that I need to seek only to serve him and not remind him of how he should be serving me. That was tough, I didn’t even realize that I was doing this. I was telling him how he fell short of my expectations. I thought I was sharing with him how I was feeling, but I now see that I was really coming from a place of expectation. I was expecting him to change his approach and behaviors in response to my emotional needs. I have started a different approach and am trying to be mindful of the words I use. I try to not speak out of emotion, typically I regret anything that comes out of my mouth when I am emotional. I have been looking to serve him. I don’t want to take this for granted. I am the only person in this world that can be this close to him and I want to be the light and love that he needs. That he deserves.

On one of the pod casts I was listening to, a gentleman said something that I absolutely loved. I do not have the exact quote but it was to this point. “The problem is that we keep asking the wrong question. We should not be asking how to have a better marriage, we should be asking ourselves how we can be better spouses.”

We cannot control other people. We cannot control circumstances. We can only control our own actions and responses. An attitude is an outward response of our inner feelings. Change cannot take place from the outside in, transformation can only come from the inside out. Today I choose to have a good attitude. I choose to minister to all people who God places in my life. I choose to look to the Holy Spirit for my joy and peace. I choose to give up all my demands and to ask Jesus to replace them with opportunities to serve. I choose to give up control and know that when I do, it is replaced with so much more than I could have ever imagined or demanded.

I choose life. I choose love. I choose to have an ever-deepening relationship with my husband and to not settle for a shallow version where I think I am getting what I deserve. The truth is that I don’t deserve any of it. I am a sinner and deserve nothing. I am an imperfect human being who has caused so much wreckage in my life and I cannot expect anyone in my life to live to a higher standard. That is not my job description. I am to love, I am to support, I am to pray, and I am to be still. I choose to keep my eyes on God and to let Him fill me so that I can minister to my loved one the way that they need me to.

 

A widow’s heart, before I am one.

 Light burst forth

You may be wondering why I would choose such a title as this. Why would she want a widow’s heart? What is wrong with her? Well, my friends, I will tell you 🙂

What I am feeling at the moment, is that I take my husband for granted.

Yesterday I was listening to part 1 of a 2 part podcast by Focus on the Family, and Gary Thomas really hit home. Gary was referring to a Barbara Walter’s special that aired one year after 9/11. Barbara was interviewing a group of widows and one things said, was that they wished women would stop complaining about their husbands, this really hit home. These women were in a place where they would give anything to walk into a bathroom and have to put the toilette seat down, they would give anything to have to pick up their husband’s dirty clothes from in the middle of the floor, they would give anything at all to have those moments back, to have their husband’s back, to have their loves with them. Wow.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I definitely complain about too many things in my life that are inconsequential. I lose sight of the big picture, I get too comfortable with the wonderful aspect of my relationships. I get annoyed when I walk in the bathroom to find clothes strewn all over after shower time. Instead, I should smile and be thankful that I have a family to make said mess. I want to have a heart that rejoices at the thought that they are mine and at the love we share.

I long for a widow’s heart. A heart that recalls the ways he serves me every day. The coffee he lovingly brings upstairs to me each morning while I am getting myself and the kids ready for the day. The loving looks I catch when he thinks I don’t see him watching me with the kids. The time he gives in maintaining our vehicles, the grocery shopping, the walks with the kids, the morning kiss, the hugs, the smiles, the strong arms to wrap around me when I need to know everything is going to be ok. I long for a hear that rejoices at the wonderful things my husband does for myself, for our children, and for our community.

I don’t want to take this life given to me, for granted. I don’t want to take my husband for granted. I no longer want to feel those pangs of annoyance when I have to clean up after my family.

Today I choose to be thankful that I have a sink full of dishes, they signify the meals shared. Today I choose to smile while picking up the toys thrown all around the house, they signify the laughter and play that has taken place in our home. Today I choose to be joyous in the dirty floors that need to be swept, they signify the feet that come in and out of our home. Those feet belong to my hardworking husband, my playful children, our friends, and our family.

Today I choose to look at my husband with eyes of admiration and to let the pettiness go. Today I beg the Holy Spirit to rekindle this fire of joy and fulfillment in my relationships. I pray that He will change this hardened heart of mine, that He heals the places that are broken, that He sheds light into the darkness that chokes my joy.

I pray these things for myself and I pray these things for each of you.

I pray that we wake each morning refreshed and rejoicing. That we all look at our lives from a different perspective, that we shift out of complacency and into a place of humility and appreciation. I pray that we find these things now, this very moment, and that we do not wait until we have lost what is most precious to us. In Jesus’ name I pray these things and expect great things.

This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24

Genesis 3:16 – who knew?!

Then He said to the woman, “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you” – Genesis 3:16

My husband read this passage last night during our family Bible time and looks up at me. “Maybe I should read that again”. I laugh and roll my eyes, “yeah, yeah, I heard it.” We competed our reading and ended our night with a crabby toddler and little more conversation as I fell asleep early. I never gave the passage another thought.

As I received a call this morning confirming that the office will be closed and that we will all be working from home, I decided to take advantage of the early morning time and to do some reading. I picked up my book The Creative Call as I am behind in the study and know it is because I have been avoiding the working on forgiveness part.

With a heavy sigh I begin to read through the chapter again and start the exercise. God burst through the hardened heart I carry and amazed me as I wrote. It felt like I wrote forever, like God was showing me the very work He was doing inside of me as I was writing. Words cannot express what took place, but I try. Forgiveness

I put my pen down and bowed my head in prayer.

“Father, please let me see your face in this, please take this weight of resentment and pain away. I cannot let the anger go, I don’t know how to. I have heard so many people and books tell me ways to go about it. Nothing really works. You can do this work, I know You can. Right now I am begging You to push your Holy Spirit deeper into this soul. Break open this hardened heart, tear it out and replace it with a heart of flesh. I beg You to take this burden I have held for so long, cleanse me of my pride and resentment. I long to see Your face. I need You.”

At that moment I could feel His presence and so clearly heard Him. Healing was taking place in that moment and that scripture from last night was echoing in my mind. Genesis 3:16 “…And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you”

Have I heard this before? I must have! I have read through Genesis several time in my failed attempts to read through the entire Bible from from to back. (more on that another time!)

I felt this force come through me. The need to investigate this further. I began to look at other versions and they all mostly say “And though you will have desire for your husband, he will rule over you”

Perhaps this is why it never really hit me before? Maybe it was the look in my husband’s eyes when he read this to me last night and paused to emphasize? I think the real reason is that God has been doing a work in me for some time. God has been moving in my marriage in ways we never thought possible and our eyes have been opening to His true design for us.

So I dug in a bit. I looked at many versions to see what they said and then moved onto the commentaries. I found a great site – Bible Study Tool

and thy desire [shall be] to thy husband,
which some understand of her desire to the use of the marriage bed, as Jarchi, and even notwithstanding her sorrows and pains in child bearing; but rather this is to be understood of her being solely at the will and pleasure of her husband; that whatever she desired should be referred to him, whether she should have her desire or not, or the thing she desired; it should be liable to be controlled by his will, which must determine it, and to which she must be subject, as follows;

and he shall rule over thee,
with less kindness and gentleness, with more rigour and strictness: it looks as if before the transgression there was a greater equality between the man and the woman, or man did not exercise the authority over the woman he afterwards did, or the subjection of her to him was more pleasant and agreeable than now it would be; and this was her chastisement, because she did not ask advice of her husband about eating the fruit, but did it of herself, without his will and consent, and tempted him to do the same.

– excerpt from “John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible”

Greater equality before the transgression? What does that mean exactly? At this point I was moved to put into practice the way we have been studying in our Ladies Bible Study group and this is what poured out:

What does this tell me about the Trinity?

  • When God tells us to refrain from something, there is good cause.
  • God does not withhold good from us, His creation.
  • God is the true judge and will chastise those that do not live according to His will.

My life application?

  • I am to be ruled by my husband as commanded by God.
  • Just as the experiences of pregnancy and childbirth, this is my role as woman.
  • Eve disregarded God’s command and this caused great pain for generations to come. When I choose to disregard my husband in my marriage, I too am disregarding God’s command. This bring pain, struggle and ruin to a marriage if not addressed.
  • I do not have to understand why god gives me a command in order to obey it. I need to trust in Him and surrender to His will.

Questions that can be answered by this passage?

  • Why should I obey God’s word even if it doesn’t make sense to me?

I am to trust in my creator and always know that He has my best interest at heart. I need to be sure to go to Him will all things, this includes my doubts in His word. I should not trust in any other influence as there is a darkness that takes pleasure in seeing my pain. 

  • If I am to obey my husband and let him lead in our marriage, then why do always the urge to step up and take charge?

Initially woman was made to be man’s helper. There was no struggle. When Eve chose to defy God’s command and eat of the fruit, sin entered the world. This struggle is part of the punishment bestowed upon us. 

I have always known that God commands me to step back and let my husband lead. I have searched for what this meant for me and my husband and always thought that my desire to take charge was a personal one. This passage has opened my eyes to the fact that this is part of God’s judgement upon Eve. 

I continued onto another commentary and here are the parts that really stuck out…

….Two things she is condemned to: a state of sorrow, and a state of subjection, proper punishments of a sin in which she had gratified her pleasure and her pride.

..Note, Sin brought sorrow into the world; it was this that made the world a vale of tears, brought showers of trouble upon our heads, and opened springs of sorrows in our hearts, and so deluged the world: had we known no guilt, we should have known no grief…

…God, as a righteous Judge, does it, which ought to silence us under all our sorrows; as many as they are, we have deserved them all, and more: nay, God, as a tender Father, does it for our necessary correction, that we may be humbled for sin, and weaned from the world by all our sorrows;….

…..If Eve had not eaten forbidden fruit herself, and tempted her husband to eat it, she would never have complained of her subjection; therefore it ought never to be complained of, though harsh; but sin must be complained of, that made it so. Those wives who not only despise and disobey their husbands, but domineer over them, do not consider that they not only violate a divine law, but thwart a divine sentence……

– Matthew Henry Commentary on the Bible (complete)

I struggle.

All women struggle.

This is the curse of sin entering into our world.

This is a role I was created to be in, the struggle itself is the price I pay for ancestors bringing sin to our world. The reward is in realizing just that and giving it over to God. Just as I endured the discomfort of each of my pregnancies, knowing that the struggle was worth the reward, I too will endure this struggle. I know that the reward will be more than I could possible imagine.

I want to write “Genesis 3:16” everywhere as a reminder!

Thank you Jesus for allowing me to see this today and I pray that you will continue to open my eyes to your divine plan. I know that when I give up the struggle and let go, I give You the room you need to work.

In Love,

Interesting place to be

I have mentioned being in a weird place before and have not been able to put my finger on it. God has been amazing in my life these past few years and I think I am in a place of awe. Sometimes I think maybe I have become stagnant in my walk but God immediately shows me that this is not the case. Other times I start to feel unworthy and like I am failing in my growth and the God reminds me that the enemy will feed me lies when I am in such a place.
Maybe just learning to finally rest in God and His love for me?  Looking at where I came from as a child and a teen to the woman God has molded me to be today. Realizing how amazing it is when you give control over to Him and allow Him to do the work in you that He wants to do….it’s all great.
Professionally I am finally in a position that suits me prefectly. I always question if I still want to be in hospice and then I realize just what an amazing job this is and to be working for a company that has the patient’s and employee’s best interest at heart is truly rewarding. The 6 years I have been in this field have geared up to this and I absolutely love it, despite just how crazy and overwhelming it can be. My company rocks and I am surrounded by people who have been in hospice for sometime and want to work together to keep the core hospice ideals in place always.
My marriage is great, never been more comfortable and it is absolutely amazing to see the work God has been doing in each of us individually as well as in us as a couple. We will always butt heads and struggle with things because we are human and have a million kids, but over all I can’t complain. No one can embarrass me or get me angry like he can, but he is the most loving, thoughtful, kind person once you get past all that and I am honored to be his wife! (i know, gag :-p)
Kids are awesome, I like sitting back and watching them. The girls are so helpful and really pitch in with the household and family responsibilities. They are far from perfect but they really are amazing kids. One of my daughters was cooking while finishing her homework last night because she really wanted to! (how could I say no to that??) MY younger daughter had a melt down but bounced back, talked to me about it and cleaned her room, played with hr little brother and helped with laundry. All my girls bicker all the time but they also do sweet things for each other like make the other breakfast while she is still getting dressed. I have made it a point to build them up in those things so that I am not the mom that is always telling them what they need to correct. They are hitting puberty and that is definitely showing but I find that I am not dreading the teen years as much. It’s a part of life and a season they are entering in to. I just pray that they will continue to make good decisions and stay open with me about their challenges. Life is short and I don’t want to spend it complaining about the beautiful things that can be difficult.
I am enjoying blogging again and think I may have found the type of blog that is best suited for me, for now any way :-p Periodically I wonder if anyone really reads it or is benefitting from my ramblings at all and this is when someone will come up to me nd thank me for writing, so I continue to do so.
I have been battling with Reiki and how I feel about it spiritually and it has been utilized quite a bit in this position which is what I have wanted for some time. After a lot of prayer, a lot of research and a lot of discussing it I think I am in a place of accepting it and using it for God’s glory.
I am in a place where I am digging deeper into the world around me yet am feeling that disconnect as we are to be in the world but not of it, it’s an interesting transition and I am excited to see where we go from here!
I love you all and thank God each and every day for the people I come across in this life.