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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Another Beloved Icon Has Passed

Hugh Heffner is gone. Most of the world was saddened by the news. We mourn the death of every soul. We know that soul will never again walk the ground we call Earth. Why would any Christian show honor to the death of an icon such as Hugh Heffner? But, didn’t our grandmothers tell us that it was bad luck to speak ill of the dead?

Ok, so I won’t speak ill of him, I’ll just let his life speak for itself. Now, I don’t ever propose to judge where a person goes when they die, for that is determined by God alone. However, we can have a pretty good guess by the fruit of their life. What legacy do they leave behind?

Hugh has a pretty broad legacy that spreads over decades of objectifying women, celebrating sexuality.  He is credited as the biggest proponent for pornography in the history of photography. That’s quite a feat! He is also credited as “having” over 1,000 women in his lifetime. And finally, he is credited to taking $8,000 in 1953 and creating the most popular men’s magazine of all time when in its peak had a net worth of $250 million! At his death, due to his extravagant lifestyle, alimony payments, and fading sales due to easy internet access, his empire had dwindled down to less than $15 million. Still a pretty sweet nest egg though.

By the world’s standards, he was a success story to follow.

If Hugh was such a success, how is the world better for his involvement? Are women respected more, or reduced to mere eye candy? Did the product his companies produced enhance or destroy families?

I’ve written about the destruction of pornography on the family (my family) in the past (here and here). I don’t want to repeat myself. Except that it seems like people just don’t get it. Or at least they don’t want to get it.

Just how far gone is our society??

 

 

Here are a couple of secular articles depicting the dark side of Hugh that I found interesting:

http://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/article/hugh-hefner-sexist

http://time.com/4963765/no-hugh-hefner-did-not-love-women/

http://fortune.com/2017/09/29/hugh-hefner-worth/

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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The comfort Isaiah gave…

If there is one person I could pick to meet in heaven, that would be Isaiah. I’ve often wondered what he looks like. In my obscure mind, my image of our heavenly bodies is of an age of perfection. Mine? Well…if there ever was an age where my body was at its best, it would have to be before kids! For men though, they seem to mature much later than women…in more ways than just the physical. Don’t mock…that’s a proven psychological fact, per the so-called experts! Just look at Hollywood. Women are done by the time they are old enough to attend the R-rated movie they just starred in! Men? Well…I’ll have to save my comments about Sean Connery for another post… 😉

Elihu said in Job 32:9 “It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right.” Meaning, even though he gives the impression of being aged, Isaiah could well have been a young man. Proverbs 16:31 says “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” Did Isaiah have gray hair? Was he bald? Most women lost their “crowns” when Miss Clairol came to town!

These are just rambling thoughts. We really don’t know. Some days I hate the loss of anonymity with the discovery of digital photography. Centuries from now our offspring will look back at us and say, “Geez, could she wear anything more outdated than that?”

Without knowing the nature of their physical appearance, their words are profound to a much greater degree. We are able to hone in on the message rather than be distracted by crooked noses or dumbo ears. Applying the message to our lives is their ultimate goal. Maybe that is the reason God did not allow our brains to comprehend the technical until this century. Could be?

The message Isaiah conveyed in chapter 54 has been life to my soul for the past 15 years or so.

I am fine without a man around. As a child, my dad was not around much. Although it’s not his fault and I do not blame or hold anything against him, it was just the way life was. He was gone at sea for months or in Nam during the Navy days. When civilian life hit, he always worked two and three jobs, and always second shift, with me in school during the day. I remember most of his time at home on Sunday afternoons taking a nap in his recliner. Through my 20’s, my ex-husband also worked evenings/nights, leaving me alone to care for the kids. Needless to say, I learned early not to physically depend on any man.

Yet, I secretly yearned for that umbrella; that sort of protection that a “man” covering provided. I think every woman does. It’s in our nature, no matter how we fight to be independent. So we seek out people in our lives to provide the kind of emotional security no man has ever been equipped to provide. Men search too…just in different areas. They seek security in their careers or physical escapades. I think we humans tend to seek to fill our holes in places that are temporal or were not created to “complete” or make us whole.

Oh my, the relief when I first read Isaiah 54 and realized I already had that protector! That chapter was an uncanny reflection of my life, written centuries ago! I was that bride who married young, only to be rejected. But God spread my “tents” and filled them with His little blessings. He has proven over and over that He, and He alone, is my provider. He has never failed me. He takes care of me…of me!

A few years ago I finally quit expecting others to fill only that which God is able. My fulfillment is not their responsibility! No, I don’t need a husband, kids, family, friends, job, house, dog, or cat to fulfill my deepest longing, that longing for security. The things of this world are temporal. Only God, our creator, can provide the eternal. Only He is able to flow his Spirit through our soul and bring wholeness!

My life did not follow the path I planned, but God in his mercy restored to me that which the locus had eaten (Joel 25). My faith is in God, my protector, my provider, my promise. He has also restored to me an earthly husband to be my umbrella while here on earth. I now have a beautiful foretaste of the security we will one day experience in our eternal home.

I now have hope.

253b

~Isaiah 54

 

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Was I really meant to be here?

Here’s that mood again. So tell me…what if a person was not meant to be born? How is their life justified? Does the life that was not meant to be actually have purpose?

Deep questions for a dreary rainy day.

I know a lot of babies these days born outside of the traditional home. I feel a sense of connection for those born out of wedlock. Do they use that word anymore? I don’t know. I guess it’s the new norm. Seems no one even knows what virginity is these days, maybe we never did. Every generation drifts farther and farther from that biblical “family unit” we were taught from our grandparents. I’ve read the generations after the Baby-Boomers are more likely to live together than risk getting married, to risk getting divorced. I don’t agree, but I thoroughly understand.

So mom gets pregnant. Sometimes dad stays, mostly he moves on. Sometimes we have two moms, and sometimes, two dads. Seems there is no “norm” these days.

In some ways I sure do wish the “anything goes” philosophy wasn’t accepted back in my day. Do the kids of today feel the awkwardness from being born as the result of a “non-biblical” situation? Has society evolved enough that no one cares?

I felt it…the rejection. In some ways, I still feel it. The lies Satan whisperers in my ear:

  • My parents had to get married because of me.”
  • Their hardships were my fault because I came too early.”
  • Six months after our wedding? Oh no, our baby was early.”
  • We’re so sorry we got pregnant, it was an accident.”
  • You’re nothing but an embarrassment.”
  • I see another zit…are you ever going to clear that thing up?”
  • You’re just a fat whore!”
  • So you survived those illnesses, surgeries, and accidents? Maybe the world would be better off if…”

Oh yes, I’ve heard it all. The excuses, the cover-ups, the lies. So, what it boils down to is, I wasn’t supposed to be here. Right? Maybe. But doesn’t God himself breathe life? If so, why did He breathe life in me if I was not to be? Would I not have survived those near death experiences if I were not to be here?

I wonder if my own experience is the basis for my deep pro-life stance. My empathy generates great passion for the unborn, unwanted, and unloved. What right do I have to life if another is aborted or abandoned? Why me and not another?

 

Sometimes…I really do wish I could take their place…

 

“Even though my mother or father rejected me, the Lord will accept me and adopt me as his own.” ~Psalm 27:10

“Even though my mother or father rejected me, the Lord will accept me and adopt me as his own.” ~Psalm 27:10 (MSB)

 

 

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Fifty Shades of Lust

Bleach is one chemical I refuse to reject. When whites do not come out of the washer as white as white, they are promptly run through a re-cycle with a load of bleach. Oh yes, my whites are white…not any shade of grey!

I’ll make this post short. A while back, I wrote a piece about porn and its effects on marriage and family here: From a Wife’s Perspective. That post was, admittedly, not one of my best…kind of dry. I really should take the time to re-write, but life and too many other thoughts keep distracting me.

The main theme is the destruction on the marriage and family. Yet, a deeper side-effect is the damage to the psyche. After immersing into the world of lust, the images are embedded in the memory, without help from God above to renew the mind. Trust me…I’ve seen firsthand the fallout.

Most men don’t realize the women in front of the camera are somebody’s daughter, somebody’s future wife, somebody’s future mother. And girlfriends, that man behind the camera is nowhere close to the kind of love we all desire.

What are we committed to? Where are our loyalties? If you are not committed to your marriage, you are flirting with adultery and divorce. Men, do you not realize that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure? Women, do you not realize one woman’s knockoff is another woman’s designer wardrobe! If you treasure your marriage (or future marriage) your whole heart will be in it. You will protect it. You will love, support, and cherish your spouse. Sex was created by God himself…and it is beautiful. Abuse only distorts God’s creation. Love the way Jesus loves us, with a pure and faithful love.

Do we all not desire identity? At the root of all desire is the need for fulfillment. How can anyone be whole, secure, or complete if their heart is focused on the temporal? Everything, yes everything on this earth will eventually decay…including that beautiful fantasy.

The eternal is all that will fill the holes in our hearts. Put your identity in Him.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made from the hands and heart of our creator!

(Instead of supporting an industry that exploits the abuse of women, donate to your local women’s shelter instead…you may just save a life!)

Psalm 139.14.

Do you really want to be a step-parent? Part 2

(For the 1st half of this post, read here… “Do You Really Want to be a Step-Parent?” Then come back!)

I started this post quite a while ago, but decided with the negative nature of lengthy blogs, I would divide it into two posts. I’m afraid it’s still a bit lengthy. 😉 This post may not make sense without reading through the first post, but they are thoughts from two different directions…this one being my “bullet” list…which I’ve read are not very popular, but I feel effective for multiple points within the same subject. We’ll see if anyone agrees…bullets or no??

Most of these two posts on step-parenting have already been written in the volumes of blended family self-help discussions…I’m just trying to post my own “journal” from experience through my studies, my friends, and my own life. My prayer is that someone…at least one person…would be able to improve our world by avoiding the pitfalls of so many others.

In all these years, I have seen very few cases where all the ex’s were mature enough, and secure enough, to be amicable. We live in a society where offense runs skin deep. The innocent children are tossed back and forth continually being used as weapons against the ex. The competition quite often becomes childlike and immature. And it doesn’t have to be. It takes maturity and love to be amicable.

What is a step-parent to expect? Below are snippets of common and worse-case scenarios from my research and experience (not necessarily my own experience). As you read through these bullet points, some will resonate with you, and others will remind you of a friend or two. Hopefully, you will see a running theme.

The pitfalls of step-parent/step-children:

*No matter how much kindness is shown, or how much love is given, the step-parent is typically seen in the negative.

*No matter how many years the step-parent helped raise the child, even in cases where the spouse has full custody, the biological parent will always take emotional precedence.

*The step-parent is not welcome in their ‘family time’. The kids learned visitation is “me” time while their parent was single and is not interested in having to share their mom/dad with someone they view as embezzling their parent.

*A step-mother is expected to carry the load of the household chores while the step-kids spend play-time with their dad.

*A step-father is expected to ignore the undisciplined step-children with no rights to scold when his favorite golf club (insert favorite personal belonging) is used as a baseball bat.

*The step-child’s disrespectful attitude is overlooked due to the pity given by parents, grandparents, and extended family. The child is not taught that even though there is no requirement they respect the step-parent (usually due to their hurt from the family division) their parent’s divorce gives no excuse for the child to behave disrespectfully (Oh yes, I have plenty of experience in this one!).

Respected

* Research shows the hardest position to be in amongst a blended family is that of the step-mother. She is expected to be the caregiver while despised at the same time. If a step-mother steps in to create an atmosphere of a normal working family, with expectations of equality for every family member, they are met with hostile opposition. The new in-laws will revile her as the outsider. If discipline and chores are expected, she will be met with the position that the kids need a “vacation” on their visitations. The excuse is they don’t see their dad near as often since their parents’ divorce. However, the responsibility for the respectful behavior of the children falls on the biological parent, not the step-parent. It’s called “parenting”. (Note: Every piece of literature I have read from the experts indicates that discipline, consistency, and structure create the best environment for security…not vacation time!)

*Most non-custodial parents do not “engage” due to the separation during the space of time between visits, or out of fear that discipline will cause the child to draw away, when in fact, the opposite is true. Spoiling out of pity only leads to disrespect and dysfunction later in life.

*Through jealousy and insecurity, all too often, the ex will saturate the child with defamations regarding the step-parent. Since the parent/child bond runs deep, even when a parent is dishonest, the child is easily persuaded against the step-parent, causing irreparable damage to the relationship. (Keep in mind, lies will always backfire when the child becomes an adult and begins to think for themselves.)

*More often than not, the new step-parent will not only have to deal with the belligerent attitudes of the step-children from hurt and insecurities created from their parent’s divorce, quite often the new spouse will also need to deal with the manipulations of an insecure and over-protective or jealous ex.

*Never reply to the ranting of a jealous ex. Learn to ignore false accusations and brush them off. As they say, sometimes the reasons are obvious as to why they are divorced. For your own emotional well-being, forgive and let God handle your justification. Oh yes, I know how hard it is to let go of justification! Sometimes, it never comes. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” The opinions of men/women do not at all indicate your value.

*All too often the ex (and/or overly doting grandparents) will sometimes try to out-buy or spoil the child, or outright belittle everything the child says about the ex’s household, especially the step-parent. Too many times, I have witnessed a parent withhold visitation and badger the ex in the presence of the bewildered children, not realizing their manipulations only destroy the child’s future relationship capabilities with their own spouse, choosing against marriage in favor of living together. Their attacks on the step-parent will eventually backfire. If only the vengeful parent would realize the depth of anger they have fueled in their own child’s heart (causing the child to sin), anger that only causes children (no matter what age) to lash out toward those in authority. Thus, the number one cause of the “troubled teen” syndrome plaguing our society.

*If the children are allowed to take a higher priority than the spouse, whether from guilt or pity, the home will be filled with dysfunction and the subsequent marriage will suffer. Discipline falls on the shoulders of the biological parent, and if not enforced, the family can expect nothing but chaos.

And on and on and on…volumes have already been written so hopefully you get the picture.

What can a step-parent do? Is there hope? Can a step-parent possibly have a good or even great relationship with their step-child?

Yes! Both families can have amicable and loving relationships! But it takes work. It takes patience. It takes thick skin. It takes maturity. It takes prayer. It takes love. Lots of love.

Do some heavy research to be informed on the negative and positive impact of step-parenting, both to the child and the adults, so these pit-falls can be avoided. Look for classes offered by your church, or a local church, on blended families to help you navigate through the initial adjustments. My husband and I took an invaluable class early in our marriage. Not only is seeking help beneficial for your marriage, it is essential for your children. Again, you are not alone in your struggles. Do not be too proud to seek help. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”Proverbs 15:22

Always keep in mind, when you enter in a relationship with someone who already has children, the presumed “rights” are automatically diminished. A blended family can be successful if both spouses (parent & step) prioritize, keeping their marriage as the most important family relationship. It is imperative to build that “three stranded chord” with God as your head.

Peace will come into the home and heart when you take responsibility only for that which is yours. That does not mean the atmosphere in the home will be calm. It may take years for the child to mature enough to accept and actually like their step-parent. Most of the step-parent’s success is dependent on the support of the spouse, the biological parent. The step-child’s happiness is not the step-parent’s responsibility. Yes, step-parents should continue to try and convey areas that need improvement for the benefit of the whole family. But, always remember if others do not choose to live with integrity; the results are not your responsibility. Learn to ignore. You are only responsible for you.

Though being a step-parent is a thankless job, and you may never receive the credit or recognition for your sacrifices, never grow weary in doing good. Even though you may never be fully appreciated, and a greater chance you will be resented, never ever grow weary in doing good; for no matter what the opposition, you are contributing to the future. It’s up to you whether your influence is positive or negative. The Lord above is the one you need to please, to look for approval. You will never find affirmation in people.

But most of all…pray! Pray for God’s comfort and strength. You will need it…and He will give it.

“For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” ~ Galatians 6:8-10

Matthew 11.28-30

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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

The Marriage Controversy…Not a very popular topic…

I’ve seen a few posts lately about divorce causing more destruction to the breakdown of the family unit than same sex marriage. I agree. After a couple of “fun” posts, here we are on a more serious note…and my mind seems to be jumbled tonight. I guess my thoughts are about the disintegrating family, divorce, same-sex marriage, and blame-shifting. Not very popular topics in today’s world.

At this point, I should say that if you do not believe in God, you won’t agree with this post. And that’s fine, I am not your judge, nor do I want to be. Though I’m sure not perfect, these are my beliefs. You are welcome to disagree…and leave a comment. 🙂

The biggest problem, as I see it, with both the world and the church is the inability to be able to differentiate between the sin and the person. The world would have us believe that to accept the person; we have to accept the sin. The church traditionally believed the person is the same as the sin and both are unacceptable. The modern church has shifted to accepting the sin in the name of tolerance. Yet, Jesus always loved the person while condemning the sin. And then…there’s the argument over what constitutes sin…

Since I am one who questions everything and tries to get to the source, or the bottom, of every issue; where is the progression? How far down will the “Christian” family fall? Where will it end? To figure that out, maybe we should figure out where it began…

The garden. The beginning and fall of mankind. Otherwise referred to as “original sin”. The love of self.

In the world of roping, a three-stranded chord cannot be easily broken. The typical Christian family consists of a dad, mom, and child: Three-stranded chord. This phenomenon is synonymous with the picture God gave in the Trinity: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Three in one. Where does this foundation originate? From the beginning, from Genesis. It originates from a book, scrolls, which have existed for centuries, and proven over and over.

Unfortunately, in our politically correct society, any comment contrary to an acceptance of homosexuality is deemed as hate and bigotry. Most don’t understand how to hate the sin while loving the person. Any comment contrary to divorce being a normal part of life is deemed as antiquarian. In reality, divorce has done more to destroy the foundational family unit than the gay marriage issue. I should know…I’ve been divorced.

But do we really want to find out what God thinks? Most don’t. Jesus himself said, “Not everyone can accept this word.” ~Matthew 19:11 Most Liberal Christians dismiss the Old Testament, using the excuse that the Cross changed everything; but ignoring the words of Jesus, “… I have not come to abolish them [the laws] but to fulfill them.” ~Matthew 5:17-20

Then there is the argument that Jesus did not specifically talk against homosexuality. Yet, Jesus talked a lot about “sexual immorality” which was understood as being anything outside of marriage.

Scripture teaches…when it comes to “sexual sin”, anyone who was not a complete virgin when they married is guilty. Period. And these days…that pretty much encompasses most all of us! We’re all guilty. So, there you have it. That in and of itself should sum up any and every argument. No? Well then…

Basically, God said man is to leave mom and dad and cleave to his wife and become one. He did not say for man to cleave to his husband; or wife to cleave to her wife. The Old Testament is clear that marriage was between male and female. Jesus reiterated the same scriptures in the new testament: “Have you not read that at the beginning, the Creator made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? ” ~Matthew 19:4-5 & Genesis 2:24

Liberal Christians tend to not believe in the literal bible or the individual interpretations of what God did and did not want. They argue that actions do not affect others and who marries and who doesn’t is only their business. They proclaim if we do not accept their life-style we do not accept the person. As a result, our courts are creating laws against our Constitution thereby changing our society. Our government did not define marriage, God did.

So where does the gay agenda lead? Where does the progression stop? Where do we draw the line? Is not the basis of the homosexual movement about financial “rights” or “equality”? Money. Facts show homosexuals are not monogamous. It doesn’t take deep research to find that most people in the homosexual lifestyle got there due to abuse and pain in their past. Hurt people hurt people. I myself hate “churchy” people, and it is true, we are to love God and our neighbor above all else. But just like a parent will teach his child right vs wrong, and lead them to that which is in their best interest, out of love, are we to accept actions contrary to God’s righteousness or what is in society’s best interest to show love? Is that really love? Where the conservatives and the church have failed is to maintain love for the person while not accepting behavior which is destructive. You don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. Acceptance without compromise was the quest of Jesus. He showed love to the outcast, followed by telling them to stop sinning. He never compromised. He always accepted the sinner without accepting the sin. I’ve had gay friends…I’ve had divorced friends…I’ve had religious friends. Believe it or not, though he hates our sin, God loves each and every person.

This leads back to my first question…where does all this acceptance mentality lead? I think the evidence of that is coming. This article states, “Earlier this year two psychologists in Canada declared that pedophilia is a sexual orientation just like homosexuality or heterosexuality.” Pedophiles now want same rights as homosexuals. So, is bestiality next?? Gay marriage proponents claim Pedophiles are a whole different discussion and would affect someone, namely the child, whereas a homosexual marriage does not affect anyone but the couple. On the surface, this sounds, sound, but is bent and deceiving. While the child is directly affected from a pedophile, children of same sex homes are just as ruinously affected…as well as children of divorce, etc. To say any action does not affect the next person is both naive and irresponsible. Does creating a law of acceptance deem the action morally right? Lest we forget…slavery was once legal and socially acceptable. “No man can give me the right to do what is wrong.” ~Abraham Lincoln

In 2 Peter 2:4-10 we are told that God did not spare angels, the ancient world before the flood, nor Sodom and Gomorrah, as they are examples of what is going to happen to the ungodly. Jesus said in Luke 17:22-37 that the end times will be as the days of Lot and describes what will happen. Jude 1:7 says Sodom and Gomorrah gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion…which translates homosexuality. The people living in Jesus’ day understood the concept of the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah so I’m sure Jesus did not feel the need to go into detail. The account of Lot and the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah can be found in Genesis 19. Abraham pleaded for his nephew’s life so God sent two angels, in the form of men, to bring Lot out before the towns were destroyed. In verse 5, the men of the town surrounded the house and demanded Lot send the men out so they could have sex with them. Long story short…God rained down burning sulfur and destroyed the cities. Pretty much shows how God feels about that life-style. Even though God is a God of love, he is also a God of justice. If you really want to find out what God’s word says about who ends up where, check out: Revelation 21:8, Revelation 22:15, & Revelation 22:18-19. Notice he says liars will be in the same place? One notable correlation…notice the names of the cities? These two names are the root of “sodomy” from which the act of homosexuality comes from and “gonorrhea” from sexual disease. Also take note that even though God pronounced a death judgment on the towns, in his grace, he did provide an escape for any who would leave. All but Lot and his family chose to stay, clinging to their depraved lifestyle. As with any sin, any life-style, God always provides a way out.

Beyond the gay marriage issue, the best way to destroy the family is to divide mom and dad. I don’t think I need to repeat statistics of divorce here…everyone knows the numbers are too high. To counter those stats, studies now show the generation coming into adulthood these days, the Millennial Generation, prefer cohabitation to marriage. I can’t say that I don’t understand. I do. But though we know cohabitation, which leads to an even higher divorce rate, is not the answer, to a generation who grew up with no family foundation, it seems “safe”.

This post is growing like Jack & the Bean Stalk, which turns off the short attention span of today’s readers. Therefore, I won’t go into the perils of divorce again here…my first two posts on this blog described the destruction divorce leaves in the family… {1st post here} & {2nd post here}. Basically… “Children look at the family unit as a reflection of the God-head, the Trinity: God the Father, Jesus the marriage, and the Holy Spirit the family unit (Eph. 5:22-33). In divorce, no matter what the cause, the family is split, and the Spirit is severed. The God-head correlation is distorted. Their security in the unity they once rested has disappeared. The consequence is a warped view of what constitutes love. Children lose sight of God’s love for them when the love of the family grows cold. They wonder how God can love them when the example of the God-head before them has split into two households.”

Last question…just who is responsible for the destruction of the family, for the downfall of our society?

The Silent Generation. The generation from WWII. With the end of the war, women donned high heals and headed to the workforce, creating the first latch-key children…the Baby-Boomers. The generation that sky-rocketed divorce. The first major separation of the family. So, that’s it. The Silent Generation fell slack in their responsibility to the family, causing the high divorce rate of the next generation. Therefore, it’s not the same-sex marriage issue of today that has caused the distortion of the family. It’s not the high divorce rate of our generation. It had to be the generation before…when mom left the kids to babysitters and entered the workforce. And yet…who do they blame? Who do their parents blame…their parents?

  • The Millennial Generation (1982-2004) blames Generation X.
  • Generation X (1965-1984) blames the Baby-Boomers.
  • The Baby-Boomers (1946-1964) blames the Silent Generation.
  • The Silent Generation (1925-1945) blames the Greatest/GI Generation.
  • The Greatest/GI Generation (1901-1924) blames the Interbellum/Lost Generation.
  • The Lost Generation (1883-1900) blames the…

(**See Reference links below)

And so on…see where this is going?

It couldn’t be my generation’s fault.

Society attempts to lessen the devastation of divorce by blame-shifting responsibility for the destruction of the Christian culture to the prior generation. The downward turn increases with each subsequent generation. Just as Eve blamed the serpent and Adam blamed Eve, and God, each generation blames the prior generation; their lack of commitment; their lack of stability, they were too strict, they were too lax, etc. After all their parents were the ones who raised this dysfunctional generation. And so on…

The last question should be, just how do we fix it??

I know I have been in sin, as has every human, but through Jesus’ death and resurrection we have salvation, a way out of the city. I wouldn’t want to call good, that which we know in our hearts to be evil, just for the sake of Political Correctness. There is freedom only in truth. Only God can make a blind man see His truth…not your truth, not my truth. But we also need to be careful about “thumping” religion over their heads. God’s truth must be told in Love…for only Love covers a multitude of sins. God is a God of restoration. Forget the do’s & don’ts. Instead, recalculate. (Love that commercial!) In Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus replied to the lawyer, all the laws depend on just two commandments, to love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. If we get those two paths straight, our whole legal system is unnecessary. We must renew our minds and fill up with God’s love to wash out deception. Immerse ourselves in the word, which gives hope…hope for a life-style free of negative consequences. That does not mean we will not have drama…we still live in a fallen world. But we will have inner peace. The more we fill ourselves with the Love of God, the less we will be interested in the deception of self or the desire to satisfy our carnal nature…the less we will desire sin.

We cannot be good in and of ourselves. It’s only God’s goodness in us that makes us good. His grace is what rescues us from our own destruction. Meditate on this scripture: 1 John 3:1-5:12, as it showers us with the great love of our Lord. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” With His love, what more do we need?

 

1 John 3.1

 

Scripture References:

https://www.biblegateway.com/versions/English-Standard-Version-ESV-Bible/#booklist

**Generation References:

http://www.esds1.pt/site/images/stories/isacosta/secondary_pages/10%C2%BA_block1/Generations%20Chart.pdf

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/03/here-is-when-each-generation-begins-and-ends-according-to-facts/359589/

http://www.genconnection.com/lmu/5th/List%20of%20generations%20-%20Wikipedia,%20the%20free%20encyclopedia.pdf

http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2011/05/living/infographic.boomer/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation

.

Job’s Three Friends

What kind of friend are you?

My Three Friends!

My Three Friends!

“Listen to advice and accept instruction,
that you may gain wisdom in the future.
Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Proverbs 19:20-21

I have a couple of close friends who are not afraid to tell me when I am going down the wrong path. Sometimes, I just want to smack ’em for telling me what I don’t want to hear…but I love them for speaking truth in my life. I know they are not speaking from their own selfish desires, but from God’s word. They are not speaking from conventional etiquette…they are speaking from God’s heart. (You my friends know who you are…)

The book of Job shows God’s perspective. Not everything we experience is of our own doing. Not every situation can be explained by man. Not everything we go through will even be explained by God. If you notice at the end of the story, God does not give Job a reason for his affliction. Yet, God explains to Job man is small and finite, compared to the infinite and all-knowing God. God is omnipotent and omniscient. He made the Behemoth and the Leviathan (40:15 & 41:1). God asked Job if he was present when God laid the earth’s foundation (38:4). God reminds us that everything under heaven belongs to him (41:11). Job and his three friends tried unsuccessfully to explain his plight though they did not understand anything beyond their own reasoning (42:3)…a reasoning which came from a limited world view. God says in Isaiah 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” Therefore, unless God himself reveals wisdom, how can we assume to have insight to difficulties others are experiencing? How can we give or receive proper advice?

When Job spoke, he was in a pity-party mode. His discourse sought self-justification, to which God replied in 40:8, “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” Job tried to put God in his little box. How often do we blame-shift on others to explain the troubles in our lives? “Well, I wouldn’t be going through this or that if they wouldn’t have done this or that!” Even more so, how often do we blame-shift on God? We all do. Or sometimes we feel God is punishing us for some unknown sin. Generally speaking, the saying, “what goes around comes around” is true. Yes, God will bring justice. But not everything that happens in life is the result of anything we or someone else did. Jesus pointed this out in John 9:1-7 to the disciples who attributed the man’s blindness on him or his parents. Before healing the man, Jesus said “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” It was the same with Job, “So that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

“By pride comes nothing but strife,
But with the well-advised is wisdom.” Proverbs 13:10

The problem with Job’s three friends is they spoke from man’s wisdom. They spoke from a works based mentality. Their assessment of the situation came from their own experience, traditions, and self-centered view. How many times do we advise someone they are required to do this or that due to church standards? How often do we give advice based on our own background or station in life, or to please others? Oh, “but it’s for the sake of the kids!” Or, “you can’t disappoint your momma!” As with the case of Job, we also are unaware of events in the heavenly realms that affect mankind (Job 1:6-7). Do we heed the advice of friends who ignore that God may have plans that go against man’s conventional wisdom? Against our traditions…no matter who it affects?

When I think of God going against man’s conventional wisdom, I am reminded of how God must have had fun giving the traditional family “Blessing” to the younger child rather than the older, a tradition which God himself set up. Jacob and Esau were the most popular siblings whose “Blessing” was reversed. So who are we to question? Is not the creator allowed to create as he sees fit? Several times in my life, I have been given advice from very well meaning Christian people that seemed right, and may have been full of love to not hurt anyone, only to find out later events were going on behind the scenes which I was unaware that put a completely different spin on the situation. Because a way seems right to us, does not mean that God does not have a better plan. Nor do we pick and choose what God speaks according to our own agenda. Either God says everything or he says nothing. When we trust the Holy Spirit to guide, even in decisions which may initially hurt some, God will always work it out for our good (Romans 8:28). When we give or receive advice which comes from self-centeredness, advice that is man-pleasing, or advice based on one-sided information, God cannot do the work in our lives that will bring about our ultimate good.

Are we never to listen to advice? No. But we sift the words from trusted friends and relatives with the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit, no matter how contrary God’s voice is to common traditions. We must have God as our ultimate priority…over everyone. Everyone. Even if what God tells us goes contrary to those closest to us. For Jesus said if we put anyone, even mother, father, son, or daughter above all else, we are not worthy of Him (Matthew 10:32-39). We need to consider the source. From what viewpoint is the advice coming from? The one person who gave acceptable advice was Elihu. He is not mentioned as one of Job’s friends…or as a relative. Elihu is not deemed as one to be heeded due to his age. He is young. Yet, 32:8 says, “But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives understanding.” God’s spirit; not age, not having a PHD behind your name, not worldly learning, or learning from theological seminaries, not even eloquence; but it is God’s Holy Spirit which gives wisdom and understanding. When we seek or give advice, do we seek through prayer for wisdom through God’s spirit, or do we seek advice through our friends/relatives wisdom?

What is amazing about Job’s whole story is the statement Elihu made in Job 34:21, “His eyes are on the ways of men, he sees their every step.” God is shown to be more majestic than we can comprehend, yet he loves us enough to know our every step. At the end of the book, God restores. Love only wants that which is in our best interest, not their interest, even though we may go through times of great pain. The horrible affliction Job experienced was not only for his own good, but for ours as well. To learn lessons of God’s majesty, loyalty, love. In the end, Job was restored twice over for that which was forfeited.

That’s love.

 

we_is_friends

“You’re a bad mother! But Happy Mother’s Day anyway.”

What does it take to be a good mother? Perfection? And whose perspective of perfection do we strive to achieve? Yours? The Governments? Or possibly, that perfection of the “Proverbs 31 Woman” the church promotes?

We went to the movies this Mother’s Day…and we saw a Mother’s Day movie…just because. Normally, I would only pay money at the theater to see movies where the action is lost on my home TV. But the previews looked pretty good, and I was in the mood to smile. Moms’ Night Out actually made us laugh, relate, laugh, and relate some more! It’s lighthearted fun. Yet, the mainstream criticism hurled at the movie was directed to the mom’s choice of staying at home…and homeschooling. The movie actually celebrates mothers. It has a good plot, good actors, and good quality cinematography, and of course, Trace Adkins stole the show! What’s not to love? Yet, some just had to complain. And complain. And complain some more.

Our culture has reversed. Before the industrial revolution, mothers were ridiculed and condemned for working outside the home. Now…mothers are ridiculed and condemned for staying home…and mothering. When my kids were young, I was pretty good with my replies to belittling questions such as, “What do you do?” followed by blank looks of boredom. Like I actually sat on my derrière all day watching soap operas and eating Bonbons! I was busier during the times I spent my days “playing house” than when I brought home a bona fide paycheck! But our culture does not put great worth in mothers who choose the “old fashioned” life, the “lazy” life, the sacrificial life. So…we leave our children to the arms of another and climb the corporate ladder.

My reply? “I’m a Domestic Engineer and CEO of a corporation responsible for training future agents to aid in our quest for a better society.” I liked it.

Momma's Love Never Ends

I’m not against women working. Sound contradictory?? I occasionally worked. And occasionally…full time. Sometimes it is necessary. But mostly…not. Do we really need the material life? The deciding factor is in the priorities. Proverbs 31 gives a pretty good description of the kind of woman God appreciates. Does she sit at home wasting away? No. Does she shove her husband and children off to build her own empire? No. She works…for her family. Proverbs 30:8 says to give me neither riches nor poverty. Balance and priorities…lost treasured words.

So, does being a stay-at-home mom always produce perfect little adults? No. Though time proves most healthy adults are produced from solid, secure childhoods with one parent who is a “constant” in the child’s life. Thus, the biggest reason divorce is so destructive to the family. Divorce automatically creates a single parent home. Yet, there are no guarantees. I have often seen good kids come out of bad homes and bad kids come out of good homes.

Part of the degradation of the stay-at-home mom is a longing for control of our children. If our children are placed in the hands of outsiders, we have lost our future. And the societal parent-bashing begins. Do parents really know best? Have you watched TV lately? In the past decade? The parent in our society has been dubbed the recipient of demeaning jokes, especially the father. Parental rights are diminishing. Even our president has turned over to the “experts” teaching his daughters the century old art of driving a car. One of my fondest memories is the day my dad took me to the local race track when I was only 14 and let me have the wheel. Oh sure, the track was closed, and we were in an empty parking lot so it wasn’t as exciting as actually driving on the track, but I was with my dad. Who do we want our kids to look back and remember being by their side throughout their childhood?

When normal childhood problems arise, do we help or hinder?

Our society claims bad behavior is the parents’ fault. We are masters at blame-shifting. If we take responsibility for our actions, we may be right…but we may also be wrong. Blame-shifting our problem on others is a characteristic rooted in pride. And that pride thingy won’t allow us to be wrong! But, shifting personal responsibility from children to those in authority is inadvertent control. When we cannot control ourselves, we attempt to control others. Parental boundaries are crossed…by our family, our friends, and especially by our government. Our over-reaching government seeks to eliminate families altogether. I see headlines almost daily reporting on parents being threatened with their child’s removal from their home from a child service worker on a witch hunt. The most effective wave today is through medical blackmail.

Everyone, especially our government, seems to know what’s best for little Johnny…disregarding the very people who brought him into the world. Authority bashing becomes fair game. So little Johnny grows up lacking in allegiance to family…his allegiance is transferred to self, and anyone who can fill his desires.

Global Warming? Terrorism? Natural Disasters? No…the greatest threat to our country is the breakdown of the family. When parental boundaries are crossed, whether it be by a relative, teacher, or the government, the child formulates a belief that their parents’ values are worthless. This belief eventually spills over into their remaining authority figures. Our court systems and jails are full of those who believe they are above the law, those who believe they are wiser than the learned, and therefore, they are unlearned. Stats show that more than 80% of inmates come from broken homes. We have more laws on the books than ever in our history, and our country is more incarcerated than any other on the planet. Morality cannot be legislated.

What about those closer to home that cause division in our homes? Not only do we have our government interfering in our families, we have school teachers, physicians, and yes…relatives.

The popular philosophy of parent-bashing hits all levels of society. Parent-bashing is a phenomenon that reverberates not only from rebellious child to parent, but from parent to child to grandchild…even in the most of subtle ways. Grand-parenting is easy. You load them up with hugs, love, and send them home. Right? Except sometimes, the love is self-promoting, placing the grandparent over the parent and thereby dividing the parental relationship. Little Johnny brings home a horrible grade in school due to his homework negligence…and Grandpa tells him to ignore Mommy’s reprimand because Mommy made bad grades too. Little Susie insists on attending a party with very questionable characters, and when Daddy says no, Grandma pulls in the drive to give her a ride. And what disciplines does little Johnny learn? What character trait does little Susie pick up?

I have seen whole families torn apart, separated, and divorced due to a grandparent or two who insist on being the primary love in the child’s life. Jesus said, “A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” And he says in the last days, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” Unfortunately, I have seen this in my lifetime. People do not put others above themselves. I have seen grandparents lie to and about their own children, turning the family against them in order to take control of their grandchildren, so that the grandparent will be the center of their grandchild’s world. Lies disintegrates trust that takes a lifetime to rebuild. Grandparents remove personal responsibility from the grandchildren and blame-shift on the generation caught in-between. If that interfering grandparent were an exemplary parent themselves, there would be no need to interfere in the parent/child relationship, for the parent would automatically be a great parent. If the grandparent does not agree with the parenting philosophy of their own children, maybe they should realize that they were the very people who raised the parents, and may not be qualified to give unwarranted advice! The presence, influence, and mentor-ship of the extended family, especially the grandparents, are very important and imperative in the development of children, but never to the extent of over-ruling the parent. Grand-Parental interference not only will destroy the parent/child relationship, left unchecked, it will destroy the whole family.

One of the best books I have read on the role of a grandparent is: A Call to Grandparenting, by Mark Adcock which celebrates the role of the grandparent. Again…it boils down to balance.

Sadly, many divorced parents lie and brainwash their children against their ex, severing their child’s relationships with the other parent, usually the father, out of jealousy and revenge, especially if the ex has remarried. These interferences cause years of broken relationships…and since God is a God of Justice…the damage done eventually and always will backfire. Eventually children grow up and most of the time will figure out where the lies lie. The anger and rejection grown children felt against the parent who was lied about will then transfer to the parent/grandparent behind the lies. And sadly, without forgiveness, more broken relationships ensue. Maybe we would not have as many broken relationships if we took to heart Jesus’ words to heart; “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.” Encouraging a child to turn against a parent for your own benefit, to hold them closer to you, is causing a little one to sin. Period.

Most people don’t realize that even God taught each person is responsible for their own sin and their own actions. If we continually enable our children to escape responsibility for their actions, how will they ever come to the place where they realize they need forgiveness? If we do not teach our children proper authority structure in the home, how will they learn to respect outside authority? If we turn our children against a parent to benefit ourselves, how will they learn structure? Even atheists believe there is structure in nature. Without structure, children do not learn respect for others, which leads to self-centered lives, which leads to an “anything goes” morality, which finally leads to chaos and death.

No one describes the pain of broken relationships better than Rich Mullins in his song: We are not as strong as we think we are…

Rich Mullins Songs

Now, what do the above paragraphs have to do with complaints about mothers not working outside of the home? It’s all in the priorities and the covenant of the nuclear family. The big question is; what does it look like to selflessly want the best for others, especially our children? How do we show unselfish love? Most of the time, it means simply to mind our own business! From our government all the way down to our relatives. When we only take responsibility for that which is our responsibility, not only will our lives be more peaceful, but our relationships with others will be richer. Most of the time, this philosophy requires a dose of common sense. Naturally, if you see physical abuse, you need to step forward and intervene. But, most of the time, divisions in families are caused by selfishness in those who are determined to control others. When little Johnny or little Susie have an issue, step back and let the parent be a parent first. Your grandchildren, students, citizens will respect you more if they have their root in the parent-bond.

Let us put some order back into our society.

Let’s let the parent be the parent.

Let’s stop demoralizing moms who need to work outside the home.

Let’s stop making working mothers feel guilty if they have no choice.

But, let us take a look at what materially we can do without to be the one our kids will remember by their side.

Let’s all stop equating stay-at-home moms to old-fashioned ignorance.

Let’s all stop degrading those who want to raise their kids in a two-parent, stay-at-home mom, type family. Can we respect their choice?

Can we celebrate motherhood?

Holly & Mommy Easter 1985

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” ~1 Corinthians 13:4-7

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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Pregnant…Again??

“What? You already have three kids and you’re pregnant again? Don’t you know what causes that by now?”

ultrasound

And on and on the condemnations flew…

So here I am. One failed marriage, another on its way. This one was promised to be my “Knight in Shining Armor” soul-mate. Yes, one would think that I of all people would know better.

My first husband was my high school sweetheart…but, less than eight years later, I found myself disillusioned, emotionally broke down, and bitter. Deep in my soul, all I wanted was the typical Tom Sawyer family complete with the little white picket fence. In a sense, I was trying to create a perfect life in restitution for my so-called “wild” teenage years. After a few years of trying to please everyone, my world crumbled when I realized I wasn’t pleasing to anyone. I was belittled and devalued. My self-worth diminished to my lowest point. I believed the lie that God had turned his back on me and did not care that I was doing everything in my power to live perfectly. So I turned my back on God.

But this post is not about my first marriage, I’ll save that for a later date. But I say all the above for a bit of background information to show my state of mind. This post is about a baby…a precious little human.

When I started dating my second husband, I was exhausted. Divorced with three young children, I was working over-time and living with a spirit of failure all around me, trying desperately to find value in my life. I was always busy, yet very alone. Being ten years older, he gave the illusion of being omniscient. My family was ecstatic, mostly my dad, mostly since he was always looking for someone to take me off his shoulders. Ha! Plus, he was related to my brother-in-law and they gave me only good reports. I thought this was the relief I desperately needed. My “Knight” swooped in with romance, worldly achievements, and showers of silky words. I was bait.

Since my first husband claimed no one would want me, especially with all those kids, I was more than ready to prove everyone wrong. That’s the problem with some men, their arrogance leads them to believe if they do not want a girl, then no one else would want her either. Then, they are shocked when they find out, whether he is good or bad, someone is always waiting in the wings. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Boy was he shocked! On the other hand…some girls have been devalued to the point they settle for what they believe they deserve instead of understanding that God’s love really does have the best for us.

We dated less than six months. I was deceived into believing this “Knight” was going to provide for me, be a fun step-dad for my kids, and yes, it was he who continually talked of having more children, even writing letters of his longing for his own children. He was in his latter thirties and felt the biological clock tick. I knew there was no chance of having more children with my first husband, and even though by the world’s standards I did not need another child, I secretly longed for more babies. Caring for my children put me in my element. I don’t know if that longing is put in women by God at creation, or if I was rebellious against the American 2.5 kid family. Consequently, and at his urging, I found myself pregnant with my fourth child. I remember being extremely excited to give him the news…he was finally going to be a father!

“We’re not ready yet. You need to get an abortion. I’ll not have anything to do with it.”

Those words still reverberate in my mind. How could I be hearing this? Was not this the man whom was to be my Knight in Shining Armor? Was not this baby his idea too? Even if neither of us needed this pregnancy, this was a little human. This was a soul. This was life. I know more than anyone that most women who have abortions are not bad people, they are victims of their circumstances. They are women who have been sold a lie. But, I could never fathom ending the pregnancy…for any reason. And my Knight wanted me to murder our baby? My world spun around and stopped.

Where was God now? Why was I being rejected again? I felt I deserved nothing. Walking a path on the dark side of heaven, while longing to be in the light, I felt abandoned once again.

After four months of marriage, I realized he had issues unknown even to his family. Manic depressives can and do live completely normal lives when their condition is managed well. I won’t go into the struggles they face in this post, but if you, or one close to you, face manic depression or bi-polar depression, please research and be well informed in order to live a nonviolent and productive life. To deny the existence of the condition only creates chaos for everyone involved.

My last straw came when he lost control of his temper with my son. After throwing me across the room when I confronted him, I packed up my kids and my belongings, and left. How was I going to take care of three children, pregnant, with very little support, and no job?

Pride…It really is an ugly thing. I was not the kind of person to ask for help…from anyone. What would be the world’s answer to my situation? Yes, I heard it again. Abort. Welfare. Abort. Start over. Abort.

But how could I look into the faces of my children and live the rest of my life knowing I killed their sibling? Would I have been able to abort any of the children I had if the birth order were reversed? Scientifically, the unborn is a separate human life! In the end, I ignored the comments of destruction and clung to that which I knew to be right. With no place else to go, I humbled myself, faced an abundance of criticism, and asked for help.

In every circumstance, even those created by our own bullheaded mistakes, our sins, God always provides a way to find an open door. We live in a fallen world. We are fallen. We are subject to the corrupt things of the world, even those who are blameless. The bible book of Job is a good study on this subject. God always restores. Sometimes not the way we expect. We will always carry the consequences, but He will restore. The Lord gave me that open door when I humbled myself to His care, and His forgiveness. I cannot tell you it was easy or without tears. But, He provided for me, for my children, and my unborn baby. God promises over and over He will take care of His children. His promises are true. He created us. He loves us.

An adult now, that baby is the joy of our family. God provided people to step in and give us a roof over our head until I could get on my feet. He also provided money for me to pay for our own food, provisions, and utilities. He later provided a father who adopted my baby as his own; a perfect reflection of our heavenly Father adopting us, in all our ugliness, and accepts us as His own. Now, that beautiful life is a college graduate, happily married, and a vital asset to our society.

Did I make the right choice? In my mind, there was no choice to make.

Your situation may be quite different. It may not be an unplanned pregnancy you are facing, but the solution is still the same. Two wrongs do not make a right. Never listen to the lie that God has deserted you. I did, and God showed me He was always with me, waiting. When we find ourselves on a crocked path we need only to pray. There is no sin so deep that God’s grace cannot draw you back.

 

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”
~Isaiah 43:18-19

BabyCakes

 “Even though my mother or father rejected me, the Lord will accept me and adopt me as his own.” ~Psalm 27:10 (MSB)

 

 

Do you really want to be a step-parent?

“Hey you! Yes, you! Single? But you know life with me will be so much better than your ex! Let’s join forces and start our own family!”

And a new journey begins…

The scenario is common place in today’s world. Boy meets girl, fall in love, get married, and have the proverbial 2.5 kids. Life happens. Marriages fall apart. Families separate. Life goes on. Boy meets another girl. But this time…

It’s like a Hollywood film. Now, there’s a demon full of hypocrisy! Movies, series, and sitcoms encourage divorce. They prey on the drama. The new romance is glorified. But, after the nuptials, the step-parents are depicted in the same light as preachers, grandparents, or anything deemed “old-fashioned”. The step-mother is depicted as evil in children’s films. The step-father is shown either as a buffoon or an ogre. Volumes have been written, directed, and produced on the negativity of the step-parent. And yet, the contradictions fly when divorce and re-marriage is romanticized and glorified, not giving consideration to the children…those little characters woven into every scene for that “awe” effect.

His kids…her kids. And thus, the top reason second marriages experience a higher divorce rate than first marriages. With the high number of divorces, even in the church, a divorced person will have a pretty good chance of becoming a step-parent! When a young couple has a baby, they blend and grow with the baby. They develop strategies together. They both have the same rights and privileges with their child because the child is half the other parent. With step-kids, the parents have already established their own system and take offense when a new spouse attempts to make changes. And thus, the drama begins…

Did you think the kids would naturally like you, the new step-parent?

Did you think his kids and her kids would actually like each other?

Most divorced parents fail to contemplate the issues lurking around the corner when they enter into another relationship. I lost count of the couples I have personally known who found themselves in the divorce court for the second and third time. And their #1 complaint? His kids…her kids. Unfortunately, so many disappointed new spouses blame the kids, when the child’s behavior is only a reflection of the emotions produced from the trauma and upheaval in their world. Emotions in which children do not have the maturity level to process.

Even in the best of situations, the children typically feel a gap, or a relational void, between the step-parent/siblings. Why? Even in the best of situations, the children will always secretly dream of their own parents reuniting.

God placed within the heart of every human the longing for family…for roots. This is the reason most adoptees will search out their biological parents. We all long for security and a sense of belonging. When parents divorce, the family trinity is broken and the child feels ripped apart. Two parents. Two homes. Two moms. Two dads. Never fully belonging in either family.

And yet…we do belong. We belong to the Great I Am. Our creator. Our redeemer. Our savior.

So nothing else matters, right? Right?

Except…

We have to live. Daily. With immature people. With fallible people. And they have to live with us. And we have to blend. Adjustments are always difficult, especially with fallible people.

Please understand; the step-parent should never take the place of a biological parent. Contrary to popular belief, it would be a mistake for a future step-parent to assume the kids will consider them a second mom/dad. Most of the time the step-parents end up considering themselves blessed if the kids actually accept the subsequent marriage to their dad/mom! But, to expect a relationship with the step-kids on a level any deeper than that of a niece or nephew is fantasy. It’s no different than living with a teenager in any home…the parent cannot do anything right. Remember as teenagers, we all thought our parents were out of touch and full of marbles, until we became parents ourselves! And it is even more so with a step-parent!

Even though most of my friends who are step-parents never attempted to replace the biological parent, insecurities from their new spouse’s ex-wife/husband created a very dysfunctional atmosphere (I do have personal experience here!). Due to a longing for the security of the union of both parents, the step-parent is a prime target for the kids hostility, especially when one parent portrays their ex’s new spouse as the enemy (more personal experience!). Unfortunately, a lot of parents behave more like the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend than the stabilizing mother/father the child needs. Be aware that quite often, even when a step-parent has a healthy view of the step-child relationship, the ex may not. Not many mothers or fathers want to give up half of their rightful parenting time to another person, especially with their ex’s new spouse. Jealousy flies deep and only backfires.

Many reading this have not yet divorced and therefore cannot yet comprehend the extent of separation that comes with a divided family. This post was written for the most part with you in mind. My prayer is that you will do everything in your power to “mow the grass on your side of the fence” first before searching for greener pastures. They do not exist. Keep the dogs out of your current marriage. Don’t grow old with only regret to look back on! Just because you don’t want your spouse does not mean no one else will want them either. Someone is always waiting around the corner. Are you ready to share your children? How will you feel as you watch your child leave your door every week or month to live where you have no control? And ultimately, are you ready for a step-parent to step into your place to care for your child in a home on the other side of town? Understandably, some parents feel their relationship with their children is threatened when a step-parent enters their child’s life. Their insecurity will not give room for anyone else in the child’s life, especially their ex’s new wife/husband. Though the step-parent should never take the place of the parent, each visitation brings fears of replacement, especially for the mom.

If you are not yet divorced, and the negative scenarios in this post are not the family life you envisioned, purpose in your heart to make your present family solid. The best thing dads can do for their kids is to love their mom. The best thing moms can do for their kids is to respect their dad. You are not alone in your struggles. Do not be too proud to seek help. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” ~ Proverbs 15:22

The adjustments of a newlywed childless couple in a first marriage are no comparison to the adjustments of a newlywed couple in a blended family. My hope is that whoever is reading this will take off any rose-colored glasses when entering into a relationship involving children. Many reading this will be able to relate to the heartache of letting go of part of your children, through divorce, long before they would naturally leave the nest. Loneliness is hard. But, the Lord wants to help you heal. There is hope. God is a God of Restoration! With a lot of hard work, and patience, you will get through the valleys and find yourself on a mountain again.

I know more than anyone how hard it is, but never grow weary in doing good! But most of all…pray! Pray for God’s comfort and strength. You will need it…and He will give it.

 

“For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” ~Galatians 6:8-10

 

~Click here for the 2nd half of this post… “Do you Really want to be a Step-Parent?”

 

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His Friends…Her Friends

http://www.friends-tv.org/

(http://www.friends-tv.org/)

His friends, her friends: His house, her house. Surprisingly, most people do not consider the division of friends. As you are deciding who gets the silver china, and who gets the Oriental rug; be prepared to divide all the people in your life. Be prepared to let go of most of your friends. Sometimes though, that’s not such a bad idea. Sometimes, it’s the friends who do the separating.

Remember that one friend in elementary school? You know, the one who expected everyone to be friends with them, but not friends with each other. You will find that friend in every age group. People are generally selfish beings. And nothing brings that raunchy character out more than divorce.

Divorce not only brings out the best of the worst of the couple…divorce brings out the best of the worst of their circle of friends. The division of friends along with the division of the family happens every time. (That’s not just an opinion.)

Angry Friends

People love a good cat-fight! Our society thrives on drama…He said, She said. Unfortunately, the church is no different. Another reason God said he hates divorce. The domino effect of gossip ripples through, starting with the marriage…to the children…to the in-laws…to the friends…to the church…and eventually throughout the whole community.

“I’m only telling you this so you can pray for them…”

And by the time that “prayer request” gets through the chain, the situation seems bad enough to excommunicate, throw someone in jail, and call in the military! Especially in a divorce situation, people will automatically believe the negative without a thought to verify the faulty one-sided information. Why?

Because someone is wrong.

Because someone is hurt.

Because, even though our society will not admit there is a core in every person that hides a conscience screaming for right or wrong, people will naturally stand beside those to whom they believe to benefit their own lives. It does not matter whether that person is right or wrong. It does not matter if they have faulty information. It does not matter if they only have one-sided information. Neutrality is nonexistent. They will pick sides…a side that benefits themselves.

In divorce…each party is wrong in one way or another. No one is ever totally right. One party may be more at fault than the other, but neither party is innocent.

We are all sinners.

We all make mistakes.

We all need to forgive.

We all need grace.

Yet, even in our progressive society, divorced people are demeaned on all levels. A divorcee is branded…tattooed…labeled. Statistics show a married couple to have greater opportunities than divorced singles, especially women.

Oh the men she attracts…oh the wives who automatically judge. I once had a neighbor to my right who marched next door while the single (divorced) neighbor to my left was mowing her lawn. Mrs. Married proceeded to demand Ms. Single stay away from her husband. The two had never met. The poor single girl had just moved in the weekend before. The married neighbor came to the assumption that our new neighbor was single, and obviously divorced since she had a child on the front porch, and would naturally make a play for her husband. Labeled…branded…tattooed…

Do you think it won’t happen to you? No one does. The hurt from a sour marriage clouds any rational thinking. All they look for is a door to a better life. The temptation of Door #2. Do you remember that old show? Blindly pick a man behind a closed door based on his answers to questions designed to detect his perfection. Is my dream-boat sitting behind Door #2? Or maybe Door #3? Only to find the person that answered their questions with perfection was slightly less than average. And, maybe Door #1 wasn’t quite so bad after all…

Do you really want that kind of life? Oh if we would only mow the grass on this side of the fence first…

We are all sinners.

We all make mistakes.

We all need to forgive.

We all need grace.

 

Our Weding Rings

 

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From a Wife’s Perspective

What’s the harm? No one will know…

hidden magazines

He secretly flirts. He thinks, what is the harm in just one peek? No one will know about the X rated video rented from the small rental store on the other side of town. No one is up at 3:00 A.M., when the internet is secretive, where 1 billion people go to pornography sites daily. Then, unaware of its presence, lust sneaks up and runs over him. Finally, he wakes up one day under the weight of metal and rubber, reeling in addiction.

I really believe pornography is quickly becoming the number one marriage killer, something I experienced first-hand. Why does it have such a devastating effect on the marriage? …It is pure deception. Not only are the subjects deceptive to men, but in turn, the husband is deceptive to his wife, family, and ultimately to God. The industry has actually admitted the pictures are altered to make the subjects look like man’s greatest fantasy. No woman could ever look that flawless in the flesh. Quite frankly, if she even had the capabilities of looking that perfect, everyday life keeps women too busy to put that much work into the upkeep! Men addicted to porn don’t realize that the women in their fantasies are airbrushed young girls, purely self-absorbed, seeking only the self-gratification of adoration for their outward beauty; while on the inside there is only deep empty darkness.

Most don’t realize the girl in front of the camera is somebody’s daughter, somebody’s future wife, somebody’s future mother.

Why would pornography, whether magazine, internet, or movie, matter to a man’s wife? What harm is there in the husband looking at other women? After all, he isn’t actually touching, is he? Coming from the wife’s perspective, I can say, the harm runs emotionally deep in ways you can’t imagine. Trust is destroyed with the realization that he is no longer “one” with only you. Sex was created by God himself…and it is beautiful. Abuse through exploitation only distorts God’s creation.

Before he even realizes there is a problem, subtle changes start taking place in his desires. Eventually, his wife’s appearance doesn’t satisfy his needs. She usually takes his dissatisfaction personally, feeling like there is something inadequate in her, feeling not only used and ugly on the outside, but the inside as well. If she were normally a self-secure person, she might recognize the problem is not her. But most women do not have a good self-image to begin with, especially with the images the media encourages of how a woman is expected to look by our society. Our husbands are supposed to be the one to whom we can trust to love us just as we are, even with no make-up and baggy sweats! When the wife feels she can’t satisfy him, she feels devalued, that she is not good enough for him. The love is non-existent. Eventually she will give up trying to please him, losing all respect for her husband, and search for her self-worth elsewhere. That’s when the friction starts, and a vicious cycle begins.

toilet

This addiction steals time…time sneaking away from the family, sneaking away from his wife, and sneaking away from God. When a friend’s ex finally admitted his deep porn addiction, she told him that she really thought he had a girlfriend because of his continual unknown whereabouts and his outward disgust for her. He replied, “In reality, I don’t have one girlfriend, I have hundreds.” Why equate lust to having a girlfriend? Because of the way man is designed. Jesus said, anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” A man’s sexual satisfaction is physical, while a woman’s satisfaction is emotional. Women tend to be drawn to romance novels and soap-operas. For a man to give himself to another it will be through the physical. His eyes pop out when she walks into the room. The husband will physically work for the family through his career. He is the muscle who moves the furniture when the wife feels the need to redecorate. He takes out the trash and changes the oil. So when a man lusts after another physical being, he is exchanging the entire life that belongs to his wife. (And girlfriends…you do the same through romance novels and soap-operas! When that guy at the office sweetens you up with compliments and flowers that your husband forgot, run! It’s just not worth it!)

Ultimately, we women feel rejected, replaced, and betrayed. Jesus said, For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” Some may argue he was referring only to money, but I believe he was referring to every area of our lives, especially relationships.

What are we committed to? Where are our loyalties? If you are not committed to your marriage, you are flirting with adultery and divorce…drama you do not want! Men, do you not realize that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure? Women, do you not realize one woman’s knockoff is another woman’s designer wardrobe! If you treasure your marriage, your whole heart will be in it. You will protect it. You will love, support, and accept your spouse for the beautiful creation which God entrusted you.

How do you, as the wife, handle your husband’s pornography addiction? You learn to accept yourself the way the Lord loves and accepts you. He gave his life for you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Your fulfillment does not come through your husband, but through the Lord. Release your husband of that responsibility, one he will never be able to fill, and cling to the Lord. Isaiah 54:6 says the Lord is your husband, even when your earthly husband chooses not to cleave to you only. Let the Lord be your identity. Only then will you have the security you desperately desire.

The condition of the heart is at the root of pornography addiction, not the physical appearance. You know the saying, “Looking for love in all the wrong places.” There is a deep place in every man’s (and woman’s) heart only the Lord can fill. Only the Living Water can fill and satisfy those desires. God can take away any addiction, only if the addicted allow Him to fill those dark places with the light of his Holy Spirit. Dwell on Psalm 51 and let the Spirit of Restoration in your heart.

Psalm 139.14

Hope through study in God’s word:

Our battle is not with flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert, he answered each time with scripture:

We fight evil with good. We fight the lies of Satan with the truth of God’s word.

We counter act the lies with God’s love, meditating on His word. We are to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves”. Dwell on 1 Corinthians 7, Ephesians 5:11-33, and Matthew 19:1-12. We need to immerse ourselves with the commitment of bonded marriage. Not a chain of strangulation and limitation, but of life and of God’s love; the only love that truly satisfies our heart’s desires.

Click here for the Bible Online

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Loneliness

Job’s wife. Not a lot is known about her that is not negative. We know the end of the story. Of course, Job was right. His wife was wrong. But was she?

Job 19:19 says, “All my close friends abhor me, and those whom I loved have turned against me.”

Walk in peace...

Loneliness is all too common, even in urban locations with dense populations. Mark Twain called New York City “a splendid desert—a domed and steepled solitude, where the stranger is lonely in the midst of a million of his race.” Psychoanalysts have discovered links between loneliness and physical, as well as emotional, health problems. We’ve all heard the phrase “lonely in a crowd”. In the late ’50s, Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, a Jewish psychiatrist, who had come to the United States from Germany to escape Hitler, was known for insisting that no patient was too sick to be healed through trust and intimacy. Loneliness, she said, is the want of intimacy. She then helped pave the way for Psychoanalysts to become Psychobiologists, taking a hard look at the physical effects of the psyche. Since the ’50s, profound discoveries have been made linking our emotional state to health issues such as obesity, arthritis, heart issues, diabetes, hypertension, etc. There has been an abundance of studies showing married people live longer than single people. Suicide rates are highest among lonely people. Sounds depressing just talking about where loneliness leads! But, in Psalm 68:5-6, God’s word says, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families…”

Families. What if the family is no more? The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. What better way to accomplish his means than by way of the family? As soon as intimacy fades, when the marriage crumbles, before the divorce, loneliness has already infected its subjects. We sleep in the same bed, we ride in the same vehicle, we attend the same baseball game for little junior. Yet, we are strangers. We are together alone. Hopeless. Ambitions and dreams…lost. Even God seems but a distant memory. Our survival mode kicks in. The human psyche screams for escape from our prison of loneliness. In desperation, we turn to vice instead of relationship, for the relationships we have known are void of intimacy. Like empty barrels rolling down a steep hill. We turn in circles, rolling faster and faster, only to break in splinters when we reach the bottom. We take the broken barrel, and with the splintered pieces, we build walls, barriers, dams. We associate intimacy with vulnerability…pain. Divorce and death are but the same. The ripping apart of two souls. Marriage makes two become one. Sound biblical? I’m not talking physical. A prostitute can be one physically, but not intimately. To be vulnerable enough to become one with another equates to intimacy. When intimacy is shattered, families disintegrate, societies fall.

What great loss to bear. Right along with Job, his wife lost her home, her knickknacks, her children, her station in society, even her friends. Her cry for Job to “curse God and die” seeps from the depths of a shattered life. In her deep despair, she needed answers, she needed strength, she needed to be rescued. She could not see past her great pain. I may be wrong, but have my suspicions that she was a good person, in spite of her negativity born from deep pain. Have we not all said things in the midst of battle that later turned into regret? Are we any less guilty of turning a deaf ear to the Lord when in the midst of our own deep pain? Yes, there have been times when I have found myself on my bathroom floor in a fetal position internally screaming, “Why Lord, Why?”

And then came Job. Her strength. Her rock. Intimacy? We can guess that through the pain and disagreements, they remained a marital one. The story does not indulge on Job’s wife’s character, not even giving her a name. But in the end, she lives. In the end, she is doubly blessed at Job’s side. Some stories have a greater level of inspiration than meets the eye.

Where is hope? Where is God? Questions asked of Job. When everything is lost, who or what fills the hole? Do we follow our friends, just to avoid loneliness? Do we blame-shift, just to hang on to our pride? What do we do with our pain? Yes, Job was right. We will eventually find our way to the other side of our pain. Even after broken relationships, we will pick up the pieces and go on, pushing through the consequences. But the choice to fill the deep holes in our soul comes only through a God filled heart. Choosing the eternal over the temporary. Job knew God was his source of life, and death. He knew we humans do not have the capability to see the whole picture, the future, or the eternal. Society does not have answers, only assumptions. But, trusting our existence to another entity is creating vulnerability. Do we dare to be intimate? Even with our creator? Do we have a choice? Of course. We can choose to be lonely…or choose to step into the intimacy of God’s love.

Job’s family had problems, but he stood faithful. Job’s wife had doubts, but Job not only stayed faithful to God, he stayed faithful to her. He did not cast her off like most would have when she only had the strength to curse. He stood faithful. In the midst of her pain, even though she succumbed to cursing Job…and God, she did not leave, but stayed by Job’s side. She chose the faithful.

Though we question, though we doubt, God has the same (yet perfect) character as Job. He does not cast us off when we lash out through our pain. He stays faithful to us. He loves us when we behave badly, for he sees our pain. He knows the other side. Through His faithfulness, blessings flow. The “Job” people are the ones who keep families together. The rocks who build. They are the rocks we trust with our intimacy, because of their intimacy with God. And when we do not have a “Job” in our life? God sent Jesus. His redemptive Holy Spirit will gather you to Him.

Intimacy. Disintegrates. Loneliness.

Isaiah 43.18

Resources:

http://www.biblegateway.com/

www.newrepublic.com/article/113176/science-loneliness-how-isolation-can-kill-you

http://nymag.com/news/features/52450/index1.html

https://www.google.com/

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My Journey… (short version)

My prayer life opened up a few years back when I was able to grasp the end of “The Lord’s Prayer” which most do not quote: “For if you cannot forgive, how can you be forgiven?”  (my shortened version). I lived a lot of years in a very dark place, very bitter and angry, with no hope. I experienced the hypocrisy of so-called Christians and naturally ended up turning away. I had been hurt more by Christians than non-Christians. I was lied to, lied about, and victimized. In my self-protection, I became the villain. As a teenager I lived on the wild side. I was always the life of the party…but full of bitterness and very self-destructive.

After spiraling down so far my very existence was nearly wiped out, God arranged a meeting for me with Jesus during Senior Church Camp. My presence in that camp alone was nothing but a miracle. But, deep down in that vacuum hole, I wanted freedom from the torment in my soul. I couldn’t comprehend God’s love at the time, but I sensed there was a God somewhere out there that was unlike the picture man had modeled before me.

After having my first baby, I spent the next several years trying to “work” my way to forgiveness… and acceptance. Eventually, I hated myself for being religious too. Then, in the late 90′s, while keeping up appearances on the outside, my soul fell into a deep dark hole. There was no way I was going to live. Of course, there was not going to be a suicide (for I could not have my kids live with that picture), but death is what I felt I deserved. I was self-destructive…again. Life was not worth living. I felt like a failure to everyone…especially my father. Through a series of events, the Lord broke through my bondage, and allowed me to see myself the way He sees me…not the ugly way I saw me…or the critical way the world saw me. The morning I was at the end, I scribbled these words…

My feet brush soft grass, stillness fills damp air.
Bones lie six feet under, no hope for a prayer.
 
The passion for love is lost in life’s yesterday.
The gravedigger rests as dreams and hope decay.
 
Existence disappears, waters rage in life’s sin.
Innocent dreams are dead. Wrongs are silent within.

That very afternoon, I literally saw the Lord’s hands reach out to me with his nail scarred piercings (this was before the movie, Passion of the Christ!). I realized He really did want to forgive me, and accepted me just as he did the woman at the well. But I had to forgive those who destroyed me. And, more important, I had to forgive me, and to accept His forgiveness for all my failings. The Lord was able to calm my heart and let me know we really are “fearfully and wonderfully made” . When no one else knew me, knew my dark secrets, the Lord saw me when I was yet unformed…and loved me. I don’t understand how, but when I released my hurt, bitterness, and anger, the Holy Spirit filled my empty soul with love and endless joy!

Isaiah 54

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wrote down my journey after God rescued me from that dark pit…

My Journey

A tiny infant cries, for comfort from the womb.
     Through pain and agony, innocence fills the room.
A child peacefully plays, her tender smile displayed.
     Ignorance surrounds her, a carefree life portrayed.

She tastes the sin of those, who take for their own will.
     Her chastity obscured; her innocence to kill.
Rejected and alone, the pain she tries to hide.
     Embarrassment and shame, she buries deep inside.

Desperate to escape, destruction is her life.
     Hope and love are lost to bitterness and strife.
Weeping for lost passion; tormented in her soul.
     Severed from affection; still longing to be whole.

Two hands with nail-scarred stain wait gently for her call.
     Longing to bring healing, if she would give her all.
Lost deep in dark despair, with sorrow for her sin.
     She opens up her soul, and reaches out to him.

Quietly a small spark, burns deep inside her soul,
    reminding her dead heart, Christ’s love makes one whole.
Forgiveness she has found, from one whose life He gave,
     for those who least deserve, the grace He gives to save.

The life He gave for all, cleansed her pain and sin,
     washing her white as snow, giving new life within.
A smile is in her heart. Christ’s love has healed her scars.
     As joy delights her soul, new life shines bright as stars!!

Me~

Life after that day was not perfect nor without pain. I still ended up with a few shattered relationships, and live with the consequences of my past. But I know who I am in Christ. I finally have God’s perspective, purpose, and hope. Psalm 27:10 says though even my parents do not accept me, I have peace knowing that God accepts me, and makes me His own! He also said in Isaiah 54 that I was like a wife who married young, only to be rejected…and He brought me back with deep compassion! The Lord almighty is my redeemer and He is my husband. He really is a God of Restoration. In Isaiah 61, He bound up my broken heart, gave me freedom from captivity, released me from the darkness, gave me beauty for ashes, and restored my soul! There is NO pit too dark that His light cannot shine through!

 

Psalm 27.10 

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After Divorce…A New Drama Begins…

Continued from my very first post, here: Divorce…Necessary Drama??

So…after the divorce…The parents move on. The kids adjust. Everyone establishes a new life full of peace, without the fighting and drama from their former marriage. We all blissfully co-exist…

Oh, if only this scenario were true. In reality, the lonely parents try to find new love with guarded hearts, now full of baggage. The kids build walls to guard against further relational hurt. Friendships shift into his or hers, or not at all. Family members pick sides. A new drama begins.

When marriages crumble, the Trinity is severed. Our God-reflection is shattered. The culture of our world is forever marred. Future generations walk a broken path. Consequences follow us the rest of our lives.

Children look at the family unit as a reflection of the God-head, the Trinity (see Eph. 5:22-33):

God… the Father

Jesus… the marriage

The Holy Spirit… the family unit (the children)

In divorce, no matter what the cause, when the family is split the Spirit is severed. The God-head correlation is distorted. Their security in the unity they once trusted has disappeared. The consequence is a warped view of what constitutes real love. Children lose sight of God’s love for them when the love of the family grows cold. They wonder how God can love them when the example of the God-head before them has split into two households.

Emotionally, everyone, especially children, will experience the same stages as in mourning of death. Bitterness sets in and their lives become self-destructive. Children see the broken trust between their parents and that brokenness is transferred to their own hearts. Children of divorce are more likely to experience divorce themselves. They do not have true commitment modeled before them. It is easier to walk away from their own marriages when they experienced their parents walk away from their marriages…and they feel their parents walked away from them.

After the separation, the children face the adjustments of an empty house and/or a new home. Babysitters and latch-key kids replace the constant of a nurturing parent. Children long for the connection of their missing parent. Resentment sets in for the parent most blamed. Some will blame the custodial parent; feeling like the custodial parent pushed out or ran off the other parent. Or, some will blame the non-custodial parent; with feelings of desertion, rejection, and failure. Most of the time, the children blame themselves. The reality of a separated family is indescribable.

The authority structure is shifted causing the children to lose respect for anyone who attempts to lead, whether it is parent, teacher, or government. Discipline becomes either non-existent or rejected. Studies show once well-adjusted children (and especially teens) become unruly, disrespectful, and bitter. Most of the damage from the parent’s divorce is neglected, ignored, or stifled, thereby carried into their own subsequent marriages. The experts say the Millennial Generation has chosen to cohabitation rather than to marry. Unfortunately, this arrangement brings up another host of dysfunction.

At the first separation, the parents (especially the mother) are so consumed with surviving; they do not recognize the hurt inflicted on the children. Each spouse believes the children will “believe” their side. After all, if the parent does not like someone, naturally, their children will not like them either…right? Except in this case…the other person happens to be the other parent. No bond is greater than the parent bond…with both parents, no matter how bad the parent. Have you ever sat on half a toilet? The result has the same correlation in the life of a child of divorce. They feel nothing works right and every time they try to succeed, they end up with a mess all over the floor. Since the trust has been severed with the parents, they run to the closest “janitor” to help clean up their family mess. Unfortunately, the people the children seek help from are usually their friends who are going through the same. They gather advice from wounded healers, driving the bitterness deeper while learning to put on masks of false strength.

Is there hope? Is there help? Family and friends tend to pick sides, without seeking unity. Most in the church are too busy condemning the break-up to unconditionally love, forgive, and restore the rejected or the wayward. Where does a hurting person turn? We look to the beginning. Would not the One who created mankind know what is best for mankind? Don’t look at the picture mankind has created of the Godhead…look at who the Godhead really is. Search Him out for yourself.

My biggest goal in writing this blog is to help hurting people. Sometimes, we have to see the darkness on the other side of the door to keep us from opening it and walking through. I have been on both sides. No matter which side of divorce you are sitting, please realize; the side that has the greenest grass is the side in which you cultivate, fertilize, and water. Start watering with the Word. Not the word of religiosity, but the Word of God’s infinite love. Are you seeking revenge for the person who wounded or deserted you? Trust me; your actions will only backfire. Let it go…out of your heart. Leave the revenge, judgments, and the other person to God. Your peace will only come when the truth of God’s love fills your heart.

You do not have to get cleaned up to take a bath. Neither do you have to be religiously perfect before you can experience God’s love. Realize God loves the person, while hating the sin. Pride, bitterness, and revenge only destroy you, not the other person. Seek forgiveness for your partThen extend forgiveness to those who sought to destroy you. Repentance, forgiveness, and restoration are for anyone who trusts in the Lord. Rest in God’s love. God created you. God accepts you. God can turn your ashes into beauty!

 Isaiah 61.3

Isaiah 61

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Divorce…Necessary Drama??

The crumbling of mankind…

Where does it start? With one word. With one lie. With one man. Adam. Where does it end? With one word. With one truth. With one man. You.

Society’s breakdown? The family… Like the frog in the pot of boiling water dying one degree at a time, one lie at a time. Then, one day, the steam is so thick that reality is completely distorted. Finally, we wake up to find ourselves immersed in dysfunction.

mt-olivet-cemetery

These are just my rambling thoughts on divorce. Some of my writing are my observations from the many divorces around me, but most are from my own experience. You may or may not have similar experiences. But, we can all glean from other’s mistakes in some form or fashion. I only wish I knew then what I know now. If you’re on the road to divorce, have you considered where you will be in your old age? Have you talked to the aged who’ve been there?

We live in a transient world. Not just physically, but socially, philosophically, and emotionally. As I am in the final laps of life, I have seen divorce destroy families, friends, and society. I’ve been there. Nothing hurts more than the death of a dream, the death of a unit. The ONLY thing divorce can be blamed on is selfish pride from both parties. Our society is set on blame-shifting, which comes from the pride of never being wrong. So, it becomes his/her fault. Personal responsibility is taboo, and the cycle of destruction continues.

Ecclesiastes 4.9

The divorce rate in America is over 50%, with the church not far behind depending on what statistic you look at. The media proves to be pro-divorce and anti-family. We have lost the generations who modeled stability. If ‘everybody’ is doing it, the grass must be better on the other side, right? The reality is; we only trade one problematic life for another. What really happens to our lives after divorce? Is not the divorce supposed to take us out of our tumultuous situation into single bliss? Will not the kids be better off without mom and dad fighting all the time? What about commitment? What kind of example are the kids following? These questions and so many more receive varied responses depending on which side of divorce you stand, pre or post.

Long before the marriage ends, emotional separation begins before the first one moves out or the papers are filed. I love the frog in the boiling water description. That frog could have croaked for help to get out of the pan and into the pond long before the water boiled. Was it ignorance? Maybe. Its own comfort? Possibly. A wise man (Solomon) once said, Folly brings joy to one who has no sense, but whoever has understanding keeps a straight course. Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. Pride keeps us (especially men) from seeking counsel, asking for help, or even admitting the marriage is less than perfect. So we stay in our rut of dysfunction, until the pot boils dry. Marriages can be saved. God really can turn your ashes into beauty (Isaiah 61). We need to set aside our pride and learn the art of forgiveness.

Unrealistic expectations are often the cause of many a conflict. Frustration creeps in when someone does not live up to your desires and wants. In their quest to satisfy unrealistic desires, women tend to turn to soap-operas and men tend to turn to pornography. Women feed the emotion while men feed the physical. Women evolve their world around her kids and men evolve their world around his work. Both live in false reality.

Typically women expect their husband to be their “everything”. God did not create any man to be their sources for wholeness (see Isaiah 54). Women depend on men to be their provider (or at least a co-provider), their protector, best friend, etc. Men are expected to be a warrior as well as an empathetic confidant. Men are expected to be a conqueror as well as provide the emotional fulfillment of a fluffy girlfriend. Bitterness creeps in when the girl realizes their man was not created for both roles and is not able to fulfill their every need. After the honeymoon when she wakes up to find he is not Prince Charming, her resentment begins. Respect is quickly lost. The lack of respect for men in our society is the root of the “man-bashing” mentality. If only women would realize that God is their only source for wholeness and the only one who can fill their desires, then they will have the freedom to release their husbands of unrealistic responsibilities and appreciate him for the person which he was created.

God’s path teaches husbands to love their wives and women to respect their husbands. Scripture has several examples, as in Ephesians 5:33, Paul points out, “Each one of you must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Wouldn’t it be easier the other way around? After all, men do not love naturally, they only want to conquer. And, women do not respect naturally, they only want to control.

In our society, the Women’s Liberation movement exposed the sin-nature that causes women to seek to control man and causes men to avoid women. No matter how you feel about “submission” and “head of the house” you must admit we were all created for individual purposes. Not just in marriage, but in work, in church, in community, etc. We all function best when we are doing what comes naturally. When envy creeps in, we stop being satisfied with the station we are in and seek to overtake those in our path. This overtaking has been going on since the garden. Just like a church, a business, or a government will not function without a hierarchy, or what we call “the pecking order”, neither will a family function properly without order. When an establishment does not have clear lines for each position, they only have chaos. The same goes for a church, a sports team, and especially the family. The problems begin when one or both cross the line of unity and one or both set out to control the other. Sin makes everyone want to be in control…not only of their own lives, but also the lives of the ones around them. Love makes everyone want the best for the other person or the family. No matter what the station (family, work place, sports team, etc.) submission is fought and lost when the one in authority demeans and controls the counterpart. No wife willingly respects and submits to a controlling husband…and no husband loves a controlling wife. When someone tries to control another, respect is lost on both sides. When respect is lost, so is love.

For men, the same is also true when they expect their wife to completely fulfill their desires. After the honeymoon, when he wakes up in the morning to find she is not the woman on the Vanity Fair magazine cover, his disgust begins. Typically, men expect their wives to physically remain the same as the day they met, not accepting the decay of the human body. Men are generally creatures of sight, not emotion. Countless marriages are lost to mid-life crisis and skinny girlfriends twenty years younger; indicative of a shallow society stamped by our entertainment industry. The porn industry is rampant due to men searching to fill needs that only God can fill. The saying, “Looking for love in all the wrong places” is ever so true. So long as men have perfectly formed, airbrushed, young women before them on TV, internet, etc., they will never be satisfied with their imperfect, flawed, and aging wife. These images overflow into the bedroom. She will never feel acceptable to her husband, which then flows over into all other relationships. She begins to see herself as inferior and unworthy, which in turn, causes the husband to lose interest and find satisfaction elsewhere. (More on the pain of porn: here.) Porn is not the only distraction or addiction to a man. Often times it is work, or fast cars, or sports, etc., or car salesmen get rich money-making schemes.

Bitterness and anger sets in when he begins to view his wife as a liability rather than an asset. He feels resentment when his paycheck is used for the family, when his time is engulfed in the family, and when he is faced with the everyday responsibility of family tasks. God says in Genesis 2:24, and Jesus repeats the same in Matthew 19:5“A man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” And also, Jesus states 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.” So, if a man treats his wife as if he is looking in a mirror, as he would want to be treated, would he not want to leave all others and have eyes for her only? A husband is not married in the way God intended unless he is united as one with his wife. Anything less is only a room-mate. Paul states in Ephesians 5:32“This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” And in verse 25, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Now if Marriage is a correlation between Christ and the Church, should the husband feel comfortable dabbling in addictions outside the marriage by placing value on others above his wife? (This pretty much sums up my experience. I not only had to deal with not measuring up to his unrealistic standards, I had to deal with knowing the marital love and unity) would never exist.

So, how does our modern society handle marriages that have disintegrated? We divorce. After all, a no-fault divorce is much easier than being vulnerable enough to work through hard issues, admit faults, and rebuild on better ground. Pride refuses to let couples be vulnerable to each other. Not only out of fear of being hurt, but no one wants to find that they may actually be wrong. The fault is always the other person, right? Everyone is a victim. No one is the villain. Even when one spouse refuses counsel, the other is still blamed. Lies begin. Lives are destroyed.

Who wins? No one.

We find ourselves battered and torn apart.

Alone.

 

Continued … A new drama then begins…

6254_name_Malachi_clipart

The words of Malachi 2:13-16:

“And this again you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor at your hand. You ask, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness to the covenant between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Has not the one God made and sustained for us the spirit of life? And what does he desire? Godly offspring. So take heed to yourselves, and let none be faithless to the wife of his youth. “For I hate divorce, says the Lord the God of Israel, and covering one’s garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless.”

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