Looks just like who?

Do you have a kid that you have no idea where they came from? I mean the kid looks nothing like either parent! That’s the way I feel. I look a little more like my dad, but then some like my mother, and who knows who else. :/

I’ve heard that we are a combination from the DNA of our 16 great-great-grandparents. Living on a dairy farm, that’s one thing farmers learn quick when breeding to a pure herd. It takes four generations to out-breed a trait. It’s uncanny the similarities between cows and humans. 😉

With my dysfunctional family tree, I have very little knowledge of my great-great-grandparents. I have a few names, but that’s about it. Heck, I only have pictures of two of my grandparents much less anyone farther back! Which means my great-grandchildren will be the first in my line to know the features of their 16 great-great-grandparents. I’ll be long gone by then…

So when someone says, “Oh he/she looks JUST like so-and-so!”

Hmm…

They don’t have a clue.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.” ~ Psalms 127:3-4

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Message in a Costa Rica Poem

I wrote this in Costa Rica, while looking through the scenes you don’t see in the Travel brochures…

His Redemptive Treasure
 
Endless webs of metal
     Spin fear upon black tar.
Dark lungs grasping dense air,
     Fierce anger wonders far.
 
Life’s hope is lost for those
     Who dwell within locked bars.
With fear of evil woes
     Bitterness turned to scars.
 
Searching for life’s purpose
     The world’s empty pleasure.
Who will bring God’s true light?
     His redemptive treasure?
 
His death upon the cross
     Covered our scars of sin;
Brought joy in redemption,
     Hearts full of peace within.

~Nora Marie

 

I never let this poem go anywhere…it’s not one of my best works…not even close. But now that my ex mom-in-law is lying in a hospital bed breathing her last, this holds a higher place in my heart. The trip I took was with a group from an organization called “Men for Mission”, which my ex in-laws were part of for many years. As they grew older the trips grew less frequent. Most of the trips were work missions. The trip to Costa Rica in January 1999 was the only one I was able to join. Maybe I’ll write more about it one day. But for now, my prayer is that one of the leaders…my ex mom-in-law…will rest in the arms of Jesus knowing she ran a good race. I pray my ex mom-in-law finds peace. I pray she knows I have no more bitterness for the angst she caused in my marriage. I pray she knows I’m sorry for not being the daughter-in-law she needed. I pray she knows God redeems and restores all.

I need to pull out the old photo albums and scan some of the pictures from that trip. The people and country are beautiful. I pray the two boys I spent time with, showing and telling about the love of Jesus, are still following Him.

Some things we will only know when we cross over into heaven…

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Keep the Dogs Out! Proverbs 19

Day 19 ~ Proverbs 19*

“Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers,
   but a prudent wife is from the Lord.” ~Proverbs 19:14

Does our world respect the marriage union? An antonym for prudent is reckless, which is a lack of self-control based in self-centeredness. To be prudent is to be careful, cautious, and wise.

God said in Genesis 2:24 “the two shall be one.” How can a couple be “one” unit if their Love Tanks are being filled outside the marriage? Love is to want the best for the other person and leave our desires aside. Paul said in Ephesians 5:25 (NLT)For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.” Now, I don’t believe he meant for husbands to physically die, but rather to give up his desires, dreams, and wants; to replace his personal (self) desires with a desire for his marriage as a unit. And, yes, that’s easier said than done…especially in our world. It’s no different for women. Our first priority is to God, then our family…our immediate family. (God also said to leave our parents!)

How can we identify a lack of respect for the marriage union? When interacting with your married friends, are you showing the most attention to your friend’s husband? Do you seek private conversation with him? Do you call your friends’ husband to plan events? Do you seek out married men on social media? Do you continually come up with things which we need “the husband’s help” (i.e. change a light bulb)? Do you show up at your friend’s house when she’s not home and end up spending time with her husband? Are you confiding in a married man and sharing your heart with him? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then I would highly question what’s happening in your heart. In today’s world, more than half of marriages will suffer through an affair. Most affairs begin with friendship, a counseling situation, or a work relationship. The most likely person to be an affair partner is a close friend of the opposite sex. But, isn’t our spouse supposed to be our best friend?

Affairs begin with dissatisfaction in the mind. Too many marriages have been destroyed by men who transfer their desires to a young air-brushed fantasy on-line, in a magazine, or in sleazy movies. When a mind is focused on physical perfection, will an aging bride ever satisfy? Too many marriages have also been destroyed by a woman who is not satisfied with her position in the home, expecting her husband to give in to her control. Decisions become one-sided. When respect is lost for a husband who cannot fill a need for satisfaction that only God can fill, she turns her focus outside the relationship. The illusion is that the grass is always greener on the other side; the truth is that the grass is only green on the side that is watered.

We need to water our side of the fence. Your marriage is like a garden to water, protect, nurture, and cherish. Keep the weeds and the dogs out! Guard the sanctity of your marriage. Too many of us live with the destruction of divorce. Before we become reckless, shall we be prudent? If God gives you someone, why would you not cherish them?

Be wise. Be careful. Be prudent.

“The foolishness of a man twists his way,
And his heart frets against the Lord.” ~Proverbs 19:3

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**The above is an excerpt from the devotional book I wrote while living in Ukraine on mission for nearly a year in 2016. If you enjoy devotionals that you can doodle as you study God’s word, with beautiful artwork by Sarah Janisse Brown, founder of The Thinking Tree Publishing Company; my devotional journal can be found on Amazon here: A Proverb A Day ~ Devotional & Doodles Journal.

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Unfaithful Lovers, Family, and Friends

Do any of us know what unfaithfulness really is? Is unfaithfulness relegated to marriage only? What actually constitutes adultery? What is the root cause? Just how truly faithful are we…and can we find forgiveness and restoration? (See my blog on forgiveness here: Unconfessed Sin ~ My Thoughts on Forgiveness)

Proverbs Devotional Day 5

“That you may preserve discretion
   and your lips may keep knowledge.” ~Proverbs 5:2

The fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters of Proverbs primarily deal with the subject of adultery. I’m sure a lot of readers tuned out right here. But, being physically unfaithful to your mate is not the only form of adultery, for God looks upon the heart. How faithful are we in all our relationships? Are we a faithful friend, employee, or neighbor? Do any of us know what unfaithfulness really is? What actually constitutes stepping out? What is the root cause? And just how truly faithful are we…? God is a faithful God, yet we continually fall into our old self absorbed nature. Oh how thankful I am that He is also a God of grace, continually ready to forgive our unfaithfulness!

Adultery is a symptom of a much deeper problem; it’s a matter of the heart. Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Adultery begins with an ungrateful heart, long before the physical act. Ungratefulness leads to dissatisfaction, which leads to unfaithfulness. When we fail to keep our hearts satisfied with that which God provides, we fall into a host of sins: envy, covetousness, jealousy, etc. Paul says in Romans 13 the Ten Commandments “are all summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love wants the best for others, and lives in gratitude for that which God has given us.

“lest strangers feast on your wealth
  and your toil enrich another man’s house.” ~Proverbs 5:10 (NIV)

Consequences always follow a wandering heart. When one or both in a relationship begin to lust for something outside of God’s shelter, trust is broken and the relationship is fractured. Does the wandering always have to be physical? No. Pornography is an epidemic across the globe, destroying marriages and families, for it creates a dissatisfied heart.  That aging mother with all those stretch marks, varicose veins, and sagging breasts can never compete with the airbrushed young perfection on the screen. When divorce follows, so does the division of entire families, friends, and your finances.

“Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets? Your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, Never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, And may you rejoice in the wife of your youth, a loving doe, a graceful deer. May her breasts satisfy you always; May you ever be captivated by her love.” ~Proverbs 5:15-19 (NIV)

Our selfish nature has us believing the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Yet, in reality, the grass is only greener on the side that is watered. Do you feel dry and disconnected from those close to you? First, water your soul with God’s Word, for His Spirit will bring peace to the deepest holes in your heart. While we have no control over the other person’s decision to water the relationship, we are responsible for our own heart’s faithfulness.

When we seek wisdom in every thought and action, the Holy Spirit is faithful to keep our thoughts pure and our hearts satisfied with His love. No matter what the temptation, be it sexual, chemical, or even shopping, pray for His Spirit to protect your heart. Gratefulness negates selfishness.

“He will die for lack of discipline,
    Led astray by his own great folly.” ~Proverbs 5:23 (NIV)

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**The above is an excerpt from the devotional book I wrote while living in Ukraine on mission for nearly a year in 2016. If you enjoy devotionals that you can doodle as you study God’s word, with beautiful artwork by Sarah Janisse Brown, founder of The Thinking Tree Publishing Company; my devotional journal can be found on Amazon here: A Proverb A Day ~ Devotional & Doodles Journal.

 

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Beautifully Created

A present from my dad…
Dad's gift

Do you see the slight girl
with the hesitant smile?
The one in the middle
with the ancient hairstyle?

Oh the secrets she hides
in pale haunting green eyes.
Her stoic demeanor
lend a blissful disguise.

Little girl in my past,
I see your reflection.
Masking painful tears from
your Daddy’s rejection.

Beautiful creation,
though the world be unjust.
God’s love and affection
hold your refuge and trust.

~Me

Hurt people hurt people. The cycle continues. So long as there is sin in this world, there will be injustice. We will be hurt and rejected by people…because people are imperfect. Oh how hard it is to release others of our own unrealistic expectations! But to do so will allow us the freedom to love freely. When our identity is in the Lord, we can have faith that we are totally accepted, cherished, loved.

“Although my father and my mother have forsaken me,
yet the Lord will take me up and adopt me as His child.” ~Psalm 27:10

It’s so hard for us humans to accept that no matter what we do 10% of the population will not like us…even some within our own family; even Jesus was rejected by his family! We buy into the lie that we have to be the best and accepted by the world’s standards to be of value. The book of Ecclesiastes (the most seemingly depressing book of the whole bible) teaches that “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” God created us to be a reflection of himself. He made us beautiful. Even the “ugly” people by the world’s standards are beautifully created; fearfully and wonderfully made.

“For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You,
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.” ~Psalm 139:13-14

When we understand the depth of love God has for us, and we understand that He is our Abba God, our Daddy, we find His strength and joy. Our carnal nature continually pushes us to take control of our situations through revenge, bitterness, and broken relationships. Pull from the strength only the Lord can give. Let us worship with joy and let His love flow through our hearts as we wait patiently for his will in our lives.

“Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!” ~Psalm 27:14

Forget about the negatives in the past, don’t worry about the stresses of tomorrow, just live in the beauty of today. You. Are. Beautiful.

Psalm 27.10

“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me.” ~Isaiah 49:15-16

“He has made everything beautiful in its time…I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.” ~Ecclesiastes 3:11-13

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Just a Box of Chocolates

With four kids, funds were tight back in December of ‘91. But, isn’t that the way it goes every Christmas? Quite often, my ex would complain about the money I spent…yet he was the one who… No, I’m not going to get into all that. This is a particular story that happened one Christmas that shows so many elements of human nature. And yet, do we learn from the past? Or do we ignore and continually hit the repeat button?

Trying to be thrifty, I had a list of each person to buy gifts and the amount to spend. Most of the kid’s gifts were purchased throughout the year as I stumbled on a sale somewhere. But, occasionally (well, I admit, more than occasionally. I am such the procrastinator!), I ended up with a few misplaced gifts and had to make that proverbial rush to the stores before they closed for the holidays!

That year was no different. The week before Christmas, I was naturally rushing around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get everything done. My in-laws were coming to visit for the holidays so the white gloves had to come out, plus adding that last minute run to the mall. When everything was done and complete an hour before they arrived, you can’t imagine the relief I felt! Maybe just this once, there wouldn’t be the typical drama created by snide remarks and nit-picking. (I’m such a dreamer… 😉 )

My kind-hearted aunt on my dad’s side was also coming to visit for the holidays, staying with my parents who lived about a half hour away at that time. I was looking forward to seeing her, even though I had a hard time trying to decide what to get her for her Christmas gift. Since I didn’t see her that often, I didn’t know what she would like and I wanted it to be special. The week before (no, she was not one on that last minute gifts list!), I had a brainy idea to have my in-laws bring down a box of specialty chocolates from our favorite sweet shop and I would pay them when they arrived. It was the perfect plan…

But alas…nothing is perfect…and all plans are never full-proof…

Christmas Eve, and the stores are already closed. My in-laws arrived with the box of chocolates. As I started to head back to wrap it up for my aunt, I heard my mother-in-law say, “Oh, when we stopped by the candy store, this was the only box they had left in chocolates, so we brought it for you for Christmas! I’m sorry about your aunt; you can give her something else.”

I stopped…silent…

Oh well, no big deal. I thought to myself, I’ll just hide the box in my room and give it to my aunt anyway, since I wouldn’t be seeing her until after the in-laws left. And…still the perfect plan! But…

(Don’t you just hate the “But” word??)

Christmas Day, after the gifts were opened and as we are cleaning up the paper thrown all over by the overly excited kids, I hear my ex exclaim, “Where’s that box of chocolates? Get it out; aren’t you going to share with us?”

And so…not wanting to be the “bad guy” on Christmas Day, I brought out that last box of chocolates. My mind was racing to figure out what to gift to give my aunt now that the stores were all closed. At least my ex would be happy to satisfy his sweet tooth. As I passed my chocolates around, I thought it would be perfectly acceptable to at least grab a few pieces for myself as they were quickly disappearing. In the assorted boxes of chocolates, most of the pieces have fruit or cream in the center. I have never liked anything in my chocolates except nuts or occasionally caramel. If they would have asked me for my preference, I would have told them to avoid the assortment boxes, but those were the kind my in-laws liked, so that is what they bought…for me…for my Christmas gift. When the box came back around to my ex, he angrily exclaimed, “You took all the good pieces!” Hmmm… And yet…he always liked the cherry filled chocolates which everyone left for him.  **Sigh**

And…just whose gift was it anyway?

Next year…buy me some socks!

“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” ~Philippians 2:1-4

Hurt People…Hurt People

When I started this blog, I had in my mind a progression of blogs that would tell a story. But, alas, life hit and my path took a few forks.

In my first two posts I wrote about the ugliness of divorce and the effect it has on families, and on our society. While the subject can be quite depressing, my intent, if not successful, was to convey God’s redemption and restoration. I know first-hand we can have a great life after divorce. I know a lot of people who live in a much healthier state of mind, emotions, and well-being after healing from divorce. But what is not expressed, especially by main-stream society, is the baggage that will be carried for life, even for those who carry the least amount of fault. I say least, because in divorce, no one is without fault. No one.

Our society has been living on no absolutes for about thirty years now. We are so lost in our own self-preservation we forget how to truly love…unconditionally. For the most part, our society does not understand the concept of love. Love is unselfish. Yet, we love for ourselves. Then we hurt.

The cosmic question of the day: Why do people hurt people? I believe research concludes that people hurt others because they were also hurt by others. Hurt people hurt people. In any relationship, if we understand the root cause of an attitude or conflict, the conflict will become inconsequential. At the root of any conflict lies a sin of some sort, usually pride, or lust. Spoiled people hurt people. “Life is all about me.” These days, people are easily offended, even in words not directed at them. Society loves to play the victim. Society loves to lash out. We are a society of extremes. People hurt people. Hurt people hurt people.

So how do we get past that which has hurt us? How do we tumble out of the rain into the sunshine? Whether your pain is from childhood trauma, physical impairments, death of a loved one, abortion, financial problems, bad relationships, or divorce, etc., you can find healing through forgiveness. I would venture to say only through forgiveness. The famous quote by Gandhi, “Nobody can hurt me without my permission” is intended to shift perspective and give control to ourselves rather than those around us. Gandhi used the quote when he practiced civil disobedience to stay strong against his attackers. While on the outside this quote seems to be the answer to all our pain, the reality is we can only rely on our own will to take care of us physically, but the soul will remain empty. Psalm 32:3 says “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.” Only when we get to the root of our problem, internal forgiveness, will we be able to walk in true freedom. I know more than anyone the faith it takes to give up control of the pain from wrongs inflicted and let the Lord deal with the injustice. Our nature leans to vengeance. We need justification. But, are our sins any less? Did Jesus not die for us too? God has proven over and over that His vengeance is always just. And sometimes God has a way of “payback” that leaves us shaking our heads knowing only God could pull that off!

And what about those supposed “Christians” or even our “family” who turn on us? Joseph is the perfect example of a man so very hurt by his brothers, friends, and co-workers, yet who refused to seek his own desire for justification. He let God handle every situation. In Genesis 50:19-20 (ESV), he said, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” By releasing his hurt to the Lord’s recompense, he was instrumental in saving two whole nations! Out of jealousy, David was hunted by King Saul. In 1 Samuel 26:10-11 (ESV) David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?”  And David said, “As the Lord lives, the Lord will strike him, or his day will come to die, or he will go down into battle and perish.” And God did just that. Saul perished…and David was held faultless. Will we be faultless if we seek our own revenge?

Let it go. Love as the Lord loves. Live in freedom.

 

“Is not this laid up in store with me,
sealed up in my treasuries?
Vengeance is mine, and recompense,
for the time when their foot shall slip;
for the day of their calamity is at hand,
and their doom comes swiftly.’
 For the Lord will vindicate his people
and have compassion on his servants,
when he sees that their power is gone
and there is none remaining, bond or free.”
~Deuteronomy 32:34-36 (ESV)

 

Let it go

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 
~Romans 12:18-20 (ESV)

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