Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Will He Love Me Forever?

 
"Has not the Lord made them one in flesh and spirit? And what does He desire but God-like children? Be careful then in your spirit, and stay faithful to the wife you married when you were young." Malachi 2:15

We savor slow mornings over steaming coffee and the local paper. My husband reads the facts while I pour over every misspelled word and poorly written sentence between bites. (If only I had a red marking pencil!). Hardly a word spoken between us except for grace, we find comfort just being together.

I grew up wondering if I'd ever know a faithful man; if living happily ever after was just for Disney films because growing up, my home was far from fairy tale perfection. My father walked away leaving my homemaking mom to finish raising three girls alone with no car, no license, no job.

Even so, I wished for the happily ever after ending...prayed for it...always...held onto hope that some day, somehow my dad would come home and we'd be whole again.

His leaving messed me up; made trusting people hard because I figured if I messed up they'd just leave me like he did. So, I built high walls all around my heart, allowing very few friends inside. My husband was one of the few.

We met over breakfast almost forty years ago at his mother's kitchen table. He was ten. I was twelve and in need of a ride to church. His mother volunteered to drive and that's when it all started. His mother bridged the awkward two year gap between us with her friendly smile and easy conversations until we could hold our own a few years later.

He and I talked for hours after school, at youth group, and walked downtown to watch 99 cent movies together now and again. But we never dated. At least we never called it that. We were simply good friends who could talk about anything and everything for hours and enjoyed being together.

Then on Sunday, June 7, 1981, eight years after sharing our first breakfast, everything changed...just like in the fairy tales. I watched him play softball from the sidelines that afternoon and I realized he was more than my very best friend. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.

But I feared my mother's fate. Although my father DID return home, I wondered if  my chosen one would  be faithful, trustworthy and loyal. My heart wondered, "Would he love me forever?"

While our wedding and honeymoon rivaled the best fairy tale, our marriage (now almost 30 years strong) has been far from perfect because we are imperfect people. But one thing I've learned: He is NOT my father. He is trustworthy, faithful, loyal and still my very best friend. He loves the Lord and with God, we tackle the hardest pitches life throws our way. He never gives up on me, always believes the best of me and I love him more today than I did when I watched him slurp his Cheerios at his mom's kitchen table.

And today, when I bridge the awkward gap between my father and the nursing home staff - when I hold what's left of his life between my hands - and cry real tears that only forgiveness allows- I realize how blessed I am with a husband who loves me...forever. 

Thank you, Father, for tearing down our high walls through the power your forgiveness brings. Thank  you for loving, God fearing, faithful husbands who bring great joy and call out the best in their wives. I pray for those suffering from father wounds that you would rescue them, bind their wounded hearts, restore them so that they, too may know the freedom you bring. Release us, Father, from the chains unforgiveness holds tight around our hearts. Help us to love as you love, to offer forgiveness as you freely gave, and to walk fully in your Light in all our relationships. Amen.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dreaming in Living Color


My husband thinks in cartoons and dreams in living color. The first time he shared that with me I laughed out loud thinking he was trying to impress me with some foolish fiction, but when his cheeks flushed, I realized he was serious.

His imagination plays out life’s foolishness like his favorite Sunday comic strip. You’d never know it until you road-trip with him and his chuckling breaks the silence between you begging the question, “What’s so funny?”  

His dreams, on the other hand, are serious and drenched in living color. God’s gifted him a visionary – one who sees ten thousand feet above the chaos – who sees the end and brings order.  

He dreams BIG. 

But he feels so small. 

When God sets a dream deep inside him it thrills him until distractions come and he sees only the impossible. And when this dream goes unrealized for years (even decades) he begins to think it was all in his head, a fairy tale, or a wish.  

Don’t we all? 

Times like these we need reminding that our visions – our living color dreams – are God’s dreams; something God wants accomplished specifically through us. And when we feel small, or face insurmountable challenges or distractions block our progress we need encouragement – to know that God equips those He’s called and will accomplish everything He’s promised.  

Where do we find encouragement to keep moving forward?  

1.      In God’s word. Scripture is God-breathed and used for teaching, discipline and encouragement. Immerse yourself in God’s Word prayerfully asking the Holy Spirit to encourage your heart.

2.      In prayer. Spend time alone seeking God, surrendering your dreams and asking for wisdom to discern your next step. Listen more than talk.

3.      In community. Pray for God to surround you with a small community that will encourage your heart, hold you accountable, and covenant to pray for you as you step out in faith. 

Ephesians 3:20 tells us God “is able to do immeasurably more than we can think or imagine” and I can imagine quite a lot! God desires to move in us and through us to do GREAT things for His Kingdom. Trust the dream He’s planted within your heart—that crazy, living color, impossible dream—and trust God to equip you and see it through to the end. 

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What are some of the impossible dreams God’s planted within your heart? What’s the biggest obstacle you’re facing right now?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Training Kids to Rule the Playground


 
I sat sunning myself on the park bench watching her almost-five-year-old self scoop and sift sand through her fingers while eyeing the boy across the sandbox digging holes with his long-handled shovel. She offered small talk but he'd have none of it and pushed his shovel deeper into the sand as though flexing his muscles to impress her.

Amused by their interplay, wondering how it might end, I kept a watchful eye.

More impressed with his shovel than his underdeveloped biceps, she asked if she might have a turn digging holes with the coveted tool. Still speechless, he shook his head, "no" and she frowned, crossing her hands across her chest. Silence polluted the air between them and sent him running to his mother's side, leaving the long-handled shovel behind.

I held my breath...

Sure enough she seized the opportunity, grabbed that shovel and dug in deep.

...and I watched.

Like a silent picture show,  I watched as he returned to the sandbox, held out his hand and demanded she return his shovel. She feigned deafness and dug her heels (and his shovel) deeper into the sand. He stood resolute and determined - hand still extended.

Wondering how this all turned out? Bring your pail and shovel and join me in the sandbox at the Christian Children's Authors blog.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

No More Facebook Fuming


...so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. Philippians 2:14-16a
 
 
Five years ago, I created my Facebook account just to share photos of my granddaughter with extended family members. No more waiting in line for my one-day-developing at the local pharmacy or stalking the mailbox for that thick envelope of glossy paper prints. Facebook and the Internet brought instant cyber-satisfaction.
 
Daily cyber reunions filled my evenings as one-by-one I reconnected with high school and college classmates I hadn't seen or spoken with since graduation. After a few weeks and lengthy notes our daily (hourly) FB status reports kept us connected and informed. It was like reading Christmas letters in little daily spurts.
 
Welcomed or not, Facebook not only gave me a daily dose of friendship, but it gave the writer-me an instant platform from which to share my wordy-passion. Where else could a no-name author share her opinions and stories with an instant world-wide audience? So, I started blogging and thinking out loud on Facebook.

So did the rest of the world.

It's crazy out there in Facebook-land. Everyone has an opinion and many aren't so kind or wise or thoughtful. Many just grumble. I call it Facebook fuming. Some people just love to share the awfulness of their day in hopes that misery loves company and somebody will join them. I don't know. I mean, sometimes it does feels good to vomit all the negativity in some pithy post, but seriously, on a daily or hourly basis? It's just not healthy.

While I mostly process life on my blog, I carefully choose words that tell truth in love and encourage one another because that's how Jesus instructs us to speak. As believers in the gospel (good news) how much more important to encourage one another in the "permanent" written words that can be read repeatedly? We are called to be the Light in the darkness that bring hope to this lost earth. Why then, do some feel it necessary to add to the darkness?

While I'm willing to share life on a heart to heart level - and life doesn't always come with rainbows and roses - let's share life's journey in such as way that encourages one another and brings God glory?

Paul says, "...encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." I Thessalonians 5:14b-18
 
Let's make a conscious effort, whether in a blog post or a status update, that all our words reflect God's goodness in EVERY circumstance, encourage our readers and shine God's Light. Join me?
 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Endless Possibilities

Photo from The United Reformed Church UK
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah 1:5 (NIV)

The moment the obstetrician pronounced me mother-to-be my mind swirled with questions and endless possibilities. What will I have, a boy or a girl? Will he favor me? Will she wear her father's dimples? What will he become? Will she chase after God's heart?

Through both pregnancies, I realized I was only a vessel, carrying a child created in the image of my husband and myself, but ultimately formed for God's predestined purpose. They carried an individual purpose planted deep inside that held God's unique fingerprint. It wasn't always evident the first few years of life where innocence prevailed, but rather revealed itself through life's messiest experiences and spiritual battles.

As much as my mother's protective instinct kicked in during their messy brokenness, there were situations where I had no control.

(Fly over to the Christian Children's Authors blog for the rest of the story, won't you?)