Looks just like who?

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

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

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

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

Hmm…

They don’t have a clue.

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

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Message in a Costa Rica Poem

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

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

~Nora Marie

 

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

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

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

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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/

Keep the Dogs Out! Proverbs 19

Day 19 ~ Proverbs 19*

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be wise. Be careful. Be prudent.

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

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

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17th day Devotional…

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, below is an excerpt of the 17th devotional of my book I wrote about in my last post. I love Saint Patrick’s Day! Not just because I am of Irish descent, but because of the heart of the holiday. While most here in America use the holiday to drink whiskey and green beer with the intention of getting plastered, the holiday actually began with a slave from Wales, England, whose parents were from Rome, to bring good deeds and hope to a pagan bound culture. I hope you like today’s devotional…

Day 17 ~ Proverbs 17

“Better is a dry morsel with quietness,
Than a house full of feasting with strife.” Proverbs 17:1

At least six verses of Proverbs 17 speak directly to the family. King David is my hero! I love reading in 1st and 2nd Samuel the account of David’s life. My spirit is lifted and heightened every time I read David’s Psalms. More than anyone who ever lived, David was attributed as a man after God’s own heart. Yet, because of King David’s own sins (2 Samuel 12:10), the sword never left his house. His was one of the most dysfunctional families in history. His wives were…well, he had way too many cooks in the same kitchen. His children lied, cheated, stole, raped, and murdered…each other! Absalom, his oldest son, conspired to overthrow the kingdom and kill his own father. If Hollywood were to film the actual events of David’s life the movie would be released with an “R” rating or worse! His children grew up in wealth, yet had more drama than a soap-opera!

“A foolish son is a grief to his father,
And bitterness to her who bore him.” ~Proverbs 17:25

Though King David saw his children make horrible decisions, even unto death, he grieved for his children. David recognized in 2nd Samuel 16:5-14 that the calamity he experienced was due to his own sin; calamity prophesied by the Prophet Nathan in chapter 12. The Apostle Paul admonishes fathers in Ephesians 6:4, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Children learn as the example they are given, not the words spoken. The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary states: “The fathers are specified as being the fountains of domestic authority. Fathers are more prone to passion in relation to their children then mothers, whose fault is rather over-indulgence.” Fathers, do you project anger or ridicule your children? Then you can’t be upset if they show outbursts of anger. Mothers, do you belittle or lie to or about your children? Then you can’t be upset when they despise you. Do we project indifference to our children? Then we can’t be upset if they show indifference to our beliefs. This is what King David experienced. He was busy elsewhere. He showed his children contradiction. As a result, they rebelled, bringing humiliation and destruction to their own family.

“He who begets a scoffer does so to his sorrow,
And the father of a fool has no joy.” ~Proverbs 17:21

The dictionary describes scoffer as; someone who expresses mockery, derision, doubt, or derisive scorn; to jeer. We all occasionally fail. Do you fall into that category? Out of your own insecurity, do you make fun of others in hopes to elevate yourself? When your derogatory jabs are questioned, do you laughingly claim the recipient of your mockery is too sensitive and you were only joking? I don’t believe people realize their own divisiveness. When a family falls into the habit of squabbling, no meal is joyful. Sometimes, the test of Christian love is greater within our own families. Oh to love with the love of 1st Corinthians 13; “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” What would happen in our families if we took just one of these attributes? Kindness? Hope? Love?

“Children’s children are the crown of old men,
And the glory of children is their father.” ~Proverbs 17:6

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

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New Year, New Country, New Beginnings

Wow! It’s been quite a while since I’ve written anything for this blog…only one post in all of 2016. What do you think…time to revive the blog??

It’s not like I’ve not written anything at all. I’m actually in the process of editing, creating, and writing books. A couple of books I’ve worked on have been published, but not any that I’ve authored…yet. I’ll post the details when it happens. It’s all in God’s timing.

So much has happened this last year! My husband and I left the States in March and have been on mission, living in Ukraine for the past 10 months! We are due to return to the States in a couple of weeks and I am not looking forward to jet-lag, but I am excited to walk on familiar ground once again! I have so much material for posts about this trip that I don’t know where to begin! Maybe in my next post…

Mukachevo, Ukraine... sitting in the middle is The Palanok Castle or Mukachevo Castle, a historic castle in the city of Mukacheve in the western Ukrainian oblast of Zakarpattia. The Palanok Castle is delicately preserved, and is located on a former 68 metre high volcanic hill.

Mukachevo, Ukraine… sitting in the middle is Palanok Castle or Mukachevo Castle, a historic castle in the city of Mukacheve in the western Ukrainian oblast of Zakarpattia. The Palanok Castle is delicately preserved, and is located on a former 68 metre high volcanic hill.

As I looked back through this blog today, I was reminded of the reasons I created it. I want to help people who are hurting. I want to let people who have been rejected know they are not alone. My desire is to lead hurting people to the One who can heal…the One in whom I found healing. Does this mean that God will take away all the drama in life? No. Unfortunately, no. For we live in a fallen world. But, God’s love can help you bloom. Our God-given DNA was created to produce beauty. Our fragrance will enhance the atmosphere around us. But…oh, there’s that word again. But. But, under the beauty of the rose lie stems which hold the thorns of life. Thorns are painful. They are scars on our base. But God is in the restoration business. He takes our ashes and turns them into beauty. He uses our experiences, our thorns, and helps us to grow through the pain. Finally, we learn to rest in His love and bloom where he plants us. Those thorns? Well, they never go away. But, God uses them to protect us from the world we live in. Just as the thorns on a bush will protect the flower or berry from predators, God will put His armor on us as we face our everyday trials.

What scars do you hold? Do you hold scars of regret, lost relationships, or rejection? God can create in all of us a new heart. Though some of our old relationships may never be restored, those scars can be healed and in Him we can move into a new life with a heart of peace.

How can you use your experiences to encourage others? 1st Peter 3:13-17 says, “…always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…” We want to give Hope. For without hope, we have no desire for life. Why do we point people to God? Because we are fallible humans. We fail. People will fail you. They fail us because we fail to keep our eyes on the Lord. When we place expectations on people that only God can fill, we set ourselves up for failure. What then do we tell people? We tell them what God has given us. 2nd Corinthians 1:3-7 says, “…God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God…” People remember personal accounts so much more than a textbook. I guess that goes for me too. I’ve only been slightly personal on this blog. :/

Let’s start the New Year by taking off our masks.

Life is messy.

Relationships are hard.

Rejection hurts.

But…God’s love brings healing.

I still want to help you embrace your thorns. I want to help you put on God’s armor. Time is short. Let’s change our world!

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Beautifully Created

A present from my dad…
Dad's gift

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

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

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

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

~Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 27.10

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

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

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The Brightest Star

I wrote this poem a few years back for a very special daughter of one of my best friends after the children’s Christmas program at our church. She always had a way of putting life into perspective…

1982

The Brightest Star

A baby born to parents young,
just starting out in life.
She formed a bond of love so tight,
baby, husband, and wife.

All American family,
the world was at their hand.
They dreamed of trips, the three of them,
the ocean and the sand.

The doctors’ words were cruel and hard,
“She’ll never be like those
who run and play, who laugh and sing,
her kind we will dispose.”

Then love broke in their aching hearts,
for quiet answers lie
in Special babies God has blessed,
not the world’s reply.

While all the children shine like stars
on Christmas program night,
this special child the Lord did see
in her the brightest light.

For from her eyes God’s kingdom shines,
her silent lips proclaim,
to ‘sign’ the words from palm to palm,
His praises to exclaim.

Yet through the words she could not sing,
His love she longed to tell.
From palm to palm she ‘signed’ His name,
and Glory on her fell.

June 1984

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Holiday Grace

Thanksgiving & Christmas Thankfulness…My little Speech? Statement? Declaration? My final breath? 😉

I’m so thankful for a faith rooted in love not terror; in life not death. I’m so thankful God allowed me to see him through His Spirit…and not in the examples or interpretations of earthly fallible men. I’m so thankful God gave us his Holy Spirit and his Word for guidance, strength, and comfort, and for the remaining churches that love the outcast like Jesus did (John 4).

I’m so thankful I don’t attend a church that doesn’t allow anyone older than the millennial generation in worship band/choir, but rather exonerates all walks of life (1 Kings 12:13). I’m so thankful I don’t attend a church that doesn’t allow newer, timeless, music for fear of letting go of traditions or just plain being stuck in the 80’s (Job 32:8-9). I’m so thankful I don’t attend a church that clings to suit & tie & stocking hosiery instead of acknowledging that man looks at the outward appearance while God looks at the heart and wants our worship to be a place where people can be real, be accepted, and loved in ordinary jeans (1 Samuel 16:7: Matt 23:27).

I’m so thankful that even though I will never live up to the expectations of people who are so quick to believe the worst, I am forgiven and accepted by a God who loves me just as I was created (John 3:16-17). I’m so thankful for the friends God has placed in my life, people who would not listen to negativity, realizing that to believe hearsay without verification is the same as the original telling of the lie, for lies are only for enemies (Eph 4).

I’m so thankful for my husband and the restoration God has worked through our lives. We are not perfect, but we choose not to control each other, but rather to let God be in control; we choose to respect instead of belittle; we choose to love in spite of our baggage.

Finally, I’m so very thankful for the children God allowed me to birth, even thru the distance, disagreements, and miss-communications, they all know their Momma’s love will never end. My prayer for you is that your road will wind its way to the Lord; that you will always seek Truth; that your faith will be your own, and to know that… “our struggle is not against flesh and blood {people}, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph 6:12).

Most of all, never ever forget…”nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39).

That is all. (This is about as mushy as I’ll ever get….)


~Nora, Daughter of Abba God, Wife, Mom, Friend.

Jesus is the Light

To the other side…

It’s funny how a glance in a photo, the scent of an old shoe, or the touch of a wool jacket will bring back a memory or two from a far distant world. To see faces from long ago, only to feel the joy, laughter, and the pain once again. In the recesses of the mind, dark cellars were left untouched.

Emptiness

My feet brush soft grass.
Stillness fills damp air.
Bones lie six feet under.
No hope for a prayer.

Existence disappears.
Waters rage in life’s sin.
Innocent dreams are dead.
Wrongs are silent within.

The passion for love
is lost in life’s yesterday.
The gravedigger rests
as dreams and hope decay.

Me

A child wistfully played. With innocence she laughed through each day. Her holidays were filled with anticipation and wonder. Each day began with sunshine breaking through her window. With her siblings she romped and played, growing with promises of happiness.

At daylight she realized Heaven was not on this Earth.

Her family moved as often as the military gave orders. But that didn’t bother her. She just took life as it came. With each move came a new room, new school, and new friends.

The day finally came when their military life ended and home became the region of their relatives. The first year or so was thrilling as she reconnected with cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents; relationships that she was not able to develop while abroad.

Her tenth birthday approached with great anticipation. Her aunt made a cake with a Cinderella carriage on top, complete with her name written in sweet icing. Her new-found friends from houses up and down the street, along with siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents came to celebrate with her.

The details of the actual party faded as memories do with time. Nothing extraordinary occurred. The guests arrived, visited, played games, blew out candles, and ate cake…nothing noteworthy. Only it was her day.

As with every event, all things eventually come to an end. The guests leave full of sweets, and happy to have enjoyed her party. The gifts were opened and the wrapping paper found its way to the trash. A few family members lingered, the men lazily chatted in lawn chairs, and the women cleared and cleaned up the birthday residue in the warm July back yard. As she carried her treasured presents to her room, she noticed Grandpa sitting at the kitchen table sneaking one last piece of cake. He sheepishly grins and asked her if she wanted just one more bite. She supposed since her mom was in the back yard cleaning up, she won’t discover he spoiled her dinner with all the sweets. He pulled her on his lap with one arm while scraping a big spoon full of cake with the other. With her mouth full of sweetness, she felt him…pulsing under her lap. Instantly, she knew in her spirit something was not quite right. The cake in her mouth suddenly tasted like sponge. When she tried to climb down off his lap, he held her waist tighter, pulling her to him, sliding his hand – that seconds ago held her cake – between her panties and her…

The above is all I can stomach writing. Oh, the family secrets we keep. Oh, the lives destroyed by those who take innocence for their own pleasure. Her childhood is gone when the joy of being a treasured present is replaced with the worthlessness of discarded wrapping paper. The worst part of the offense is not just the offense itself, but in the reaction and rejection of those close by when the horrors are revealed. Most family members are more worried about their own reputation, especially amongst their religious church mates, so they set out to silence the drama. They hush when she enters the room, like she would not know where their conversation dwelt. Then there are those who cannot let anyone else have more focus than they, countering with their own exaggerated stories purposed to minimize all others. “Oh, that’s nothing, why when I…” Her pain was irrelevant. The path is set through rejection and bitterness, walls of self-protection go up, and thus the victim becomes the villain. Hurt people, hurt people.

I could state all the stats, all the end results, all the laws, but that would be a waste of time. Most intelligent people inherently know the consequences of molestation on its victim, on the families, and on their future relationships. Most perpetrators, rarely a stranger, are fully aware of the damage they cause innocent victims. Yet, it is like a cigarette, once addicted, they just do not have the capabilities of putting that smoke down. Their addiction rules their conscience, even when their exhale is damaging those around them. Their conscience is seared by their physical desires. And the victim is powerless, with no recourse, with no justice. A cancer of bitterness from a life lost burns deep inside.

Where is love?

Where is justice?

Where is freedom?

While the victim hides the hurt, masks the pain, the locked-up memory turns into bitterness. That bitterness evolves into anger, an anger that rages inside. The victim tries to escape the memories, the snide remarks from those closest to her, and the lie of worthlessness given to her by the negative voices in her head. Vengeance and revenge sets in the heart. Self-destruction becomes her way of life. The victim becomes the villain, striking first to avoid being struck. Alcohol, drugs, sex, etc. only leave an empty hole. All she wants is acceptance, to be innocent again, and to be loved…proper. Turning to people to fill her needs and heal her wounds inadvertently causes all the more heartache…so the walls are built, high, never to let anyone emotionally touch her…ever again.

Some stories need to be locked up…imprisoned in the deep recesses of the mind. Evil is a hard pill to stomach, unless one is evil. Once the door is opened, evil will slither its tentacles through your soul. Though we are warned to guard our hearts and minds, our curiosity temps us toward the dark pit.

Some stories need to be told. In 2 Corinthians 1:4 we are encouraged to give encouragement. God comforts us and in turn we comfort others. We read for one of two reasons…for self-help or to escape. God wants to use a tale to benefit others. Countless lives have been changed through the testimony of those who have been through the fire and back.

This…is one such story…

 

Oh, but the longing…the spirit that won’t rest…the Spirit that gently pulls at her heart…

“Let it go.” he says.

“Oh, but you don’t understand!” she says.

“Yes, I do. I know your hurting heart…for I created you. You are my child and you are beautiful.” he says.

“Then why did you create me to live through this very ugly life?” she cries.

“The world was born with beauty, but sin painted dark black paint over earth’s canvas. While you are in the world, I have provided a resting place in me. Because of my love for you, I sent my son to experience the same sin known to man. He was able to shed blood to break through the bondage of sin, of pain, of oppression, so that you, through him, will have access to Me.” he said.

Forgiveness? But why should God forgive someone so disgusting? Why would He in his perfection accept someone so imperfect? Oh, but the longing, the longing for beauty, the longing for wholeness.

“OK Lord, what do I need to do? I need you to take away this pain. I want you to fill the hole in my heart. Will you even accept me?” she asked.

“Yes, I accept and love you just as I created you. But…you need to forgive.” he said firmly.

“Oh, no. Not in a million years! Do you know what they did to me?” she screamed.

“Yes, I saw. And I saw what they did to my son. And to those who asked and believed in him, I forgave.” he quietly explained.

“But why? How could you?” she cried in exasperation.

His reply was strong, firm, yet compassionate; “Forgiveness is the only way to heal your heart. Let go of your longing for retribution. Leave your vengeance to me. All will one day be held accountable. But, as long as you hold on to your bitterness you prevent my spirit from filling your soul. Unforgiveness, bitterness, and hatred, are rooted in sin, and I am unable to dwell where sin abides. No matter how small the sin; sin is sin. How can I forgive you if you cannot forgive others? Do you want others to treat you with unforgiveness? If you believe I am truth, then trust. Release to me every painful memory, every guilt, and every wrong path you took. Let me wash through you with my pure Holy Spirit, giving you a new life, with a clean heart. I will be your peace, your source of love.” he proclaimed, he promised, he purposed.

Quietly, his light pierced through my dark heart, releasing me from my own oppression.

Joy…such a small and simple word…and yet, so full. Thank you Lord.

My Prayer

Forgive me my complacency
Release my life from apathy.
To you I come on bended knee
Lord consecrate my soul to thee.

Forgive the heart that aches for you
Your mercy left my soul brand new.
I lift the heart you cleansed from sin
Restore to me the Joy within.

I cry, My God I long for you!
Your spirit come as morning dew.
Lord cover me with endless grace
I find my strength in your embrace.

Forgive me my complacency
Your burning fire embrace in me.
In your pure love I will enjoy
Your promised hope and perfect Joy.

Me

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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.

Another church debate?

And the church is now debating youth groups…

The newest movement in the church world today is the “Integration of the Congregation”. The concept is such that our kids are falling away, as argued in one of many circles such as in this article; Charisma News; which discusses statistics showing youth groups are driving Christian teens to abandon the faith. The trend is leading the church to abandon their youth groups.

The debate seems to be about destructive peer pressure in church. The new thought process is that separating youth from parents in church waters down and annihilates any teaching of Godly principles, leaving youth abandoned to seek total downfall with their church peers. By integrating the youth with the adults, they will learn to become exemplary, well rounded, Christian grown-ups. In all the articles I’ve read on Family Integration, statics and scripture references are used to back up this theory: Deuteronomy 16:9-14, Joshua 8:34-35, Ezra 10:1, 2 Chronicles 20:13, Nehemiah 12:43 and Joel 2:15-16…to quote a few from the above article. But, if you look at these scriptures, they talk of feasts and assembly gatherings (you know…church), but do not mention youth groups. In fact, I don’t think anyone has found any scripture stating youth groups are not allowed. (Yet, the bible doesn’t mention cigarettes either. Just sayin’!) One of the verses used by most when it comes to family worship is Deuteronomy 6:4-7, which instructs fathers to teach the statutes to their children. Yes…the fathers to teach their children. So, is this proof we need to abolish youth groups and put everyone together?

And then…finally…here is a common sense article by Ed Stetzer debunking the theory that all youth groups are bad, posted in Christianity Today. Actually, he debunks the statistics used by arguments for the bad youth group theory. When the statistics are skewed, we are compelled to take another look at our theories. I am not at all against Family Integration, rather I am for it. But I am not against abolishing our youth groups either.

This post is obviously just my humble opinion…but my opinion is based on experience…from my own youth. You see, I had a drug problem. My parents drug me to church every week! (Bet you haven’t heard that one before! 😉 ) Seriously, that is about the one thing my parents did right. Part of my “testimony” is that I hated church…and youth group…from being a pretty messed up youth myself. I felt all the kids were either hypocrites or dorks. They were not the kind of kids I preferred to hang out with on a Friday night…and I didn’t. I partied. And partied. But, that’s another story…

In spite of hating youth group…the Gospel got in.

It. got. in.

And I came back. Not to church. I came back to Jesus.

Yes, some of my most pivotal memories are of little words, verses, or phrases, Ron or Lindell spoke here and there. And then, there are the Sunday school teachers who put up with us one hour a week speaking into our lives.

And the list goes on…

I’ve often wondered over the years how many of them thought they were wasting their time. How many of them thought I was a waste…

I wonder where I would be if the church my parents attended (quite by default due to my Grandma) did not have a youth group. Would I have created less trouble for myself and others? Would I be here today? No, I don’t believe so.

Listening to the many in favor of abandoning youth groups, I hear a resounding argument that the youth would be naturally sitting at home on daddy’s knee listening to him quote scripture every waking hour.

Maybe in a bubble.

Not in my family.

Not in today’s world.

Yes, we were a “Christian” family. We went to church. We talked the talk. But not once do I remember my dad leading in anything other than prayer before dinner on Sunday afternoon. Even if he wanted to, how could he? He was either on a ship somewhere or working 2nd shift during the week. Neither did his father, or his father before him. I don’t blame them, they were living as their fathers before them taught. They were doing the best they could. Our forefathers believed the way to show love to the family was to work and leave the teaching to Momma and the Public Schools.

Hey Church! That’s the real world.

Yes, I gathered some instruction from my family. But when a teenager is “troubled” their parent is the last person they will follow. That’s reality.

What would have happened if I did not have a youth group? Where else would I have gone for instruction? The very places that encouraged my self-destructive behavior to flourish: the world. Yes, the public school and, of course, peers.

Now, they say times have changed. We watched a clip in church this morning interviewing several Millennials about their perception of the world and what it was like to be a Millennial Christian. Their words took me back to my own youth. You know what? Nothing has changed. Not really. As a child of the 60’s & 70’s, I had the same outlook…round peg in a square hole. I have a sneaky feeling youth have experienced the same moods since Adam & Eve. We can blame it on almost anything, but common sense says the human body changes and we grow up, during which time we search for purpose…that inner longing for the choosing between right and wrong…searching to fill the hole created by our own sin. That hole which only God can fill. Youth grow to adults, and in the process, we all seek to fit somewhere in society. Heck, even the disciples jockeyed for position…trying to “fit in”.

Youth of any millennia will seek their place in adulthood. Where is the best place to navigate those roads? I believe both the family and youth groups are the answer. The best place is the place where they can find Jesus. If the youth are in a spiritually non-existent family, would they receive instruction outside of church? No. If the youth are in a spiritually non-existent church, would they receive instruction sitting in the pew next to their parents? No. Are there churches with youth groups that are simply play-time? Yes. Are there families who are only “Christian” on Sundays? Yes.

As for the theory of separation, in most American churches, after “Sunday School” is over, when the kids are old enough to sit for a spell (older than toddler age), the youth are always sitting (Integrated) in the church service…sometimes bored to death. But…the Spirit can work years later to bring back God’s word to a broken heart. God’s word which we never realized will reach into our deaf ears. And the “youth groups” that are in question? They always meet outside of Sunday morning services, such as a Sunday evening or mid-week night. Most active youth groups meet more than adult life groups! Would you rather your youth go to the parties I attended on the weekend or to a church youth event? I didn’t think so. Are there “bad” activities going on during church events? Sometimes…for we live in a fallen world. Are there “bad” activities going on during social, non-churched, events? Of this, I can assure you, almost always.

If you want to “fix” our youth, abolishing the group is throwing out the baby with the bath water. Preach to the fathers. Yes, instruct the fathers in how to teach their children. And in all reality, that may fail. Bad stats show somewhere around 50% in the church are divorced/single parent households, where it is more likely around 25-30%…which is still huge no matter how you look at the issue. Embrace those kids, as well as kids whose parents are unchurched. When the fathers are absent, create churches that will hire Youth Pastors and not Youth Directors. Train leaders who will be examples of Jesus to kids. Create an atmosphere where youth have a safe place as they learn to break the parental apron strings and grow into adulthood.

Then, and only then, will you have an explosion of salvation in our youth culture….our future!

God's Spirit will bring His word back to our hurting hearts!

God’s Spirit will bring His word back to our hurting hearts!

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Your Daily Proverb ~ 18:17 (Did you hear the other side?)

“Any story sounds true until someone tells the other side and sets the record straight.” ~Proverbs 18:17 

~A wise one is never gullible. As the saying goes…don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see…no matter who it’s from.

When you hear a sob story, are you listening to an opinion or an account of actual events? How many relationships have been destroyed by gullible good people not verifying statements from trusted sources? We hear the hurt in their voices as they recount events that describe injustices done and we want to defend our loved ones & friends against the evil that has been inflicted on them. Why would we question their side of the issues? After all, they are our best friend, our teacher, our pastor, our mentor, our parent. Why would we question?

We question because we live in a fallible world. We are all one-sided human beings. We react and feel based on OUR own experiences. And just maybe, just maybe, they themselves do not know the other side.

We woke up to a bang outside our bedroom window a few weeks back. Big bangs are never a peaceful way to start the morning. It always means my coffee will be delayed. Not good. 😦 My husband went out to see if everyone was safe. The teenage boy who crossed the middle line on his way to school was a fairly new driver. I felt sorry and glad for him at the same time. While it’s never good to be in any accident, sometimes, especially for boys, having a non-injury accident early on teaches hard lessons in humility.

The first-hand account from the second vehicle following the youth claimed the youth was trying to pass another vehicle and he did not have enough room to return to his lane before hitting the oncoming truck, spinning both the youth’s car and the truck off into the cornfield. Of this, he was certain of what he witnessed.

The problem is…there was no vehicle in front of the youth for him to pass…in all actuality, he was reaching in the passenger’s seat for his brush. I guess he forgot to look in the mirror before leaving home. When mom arrived, taking pictures on her cell phone, he was definitely red-faced!

This is why law enforcement are trained to take all statements before writing up a report. They look at all angles before making any conclusions.

Basically…they unknowingly adhere to the **gasp** Bible… “He who states his case first seems right, until his rival comes and cross-examines him.” ~Proverbs 18:17 .

Why can’t we do that with our relationships? Do we really…really…know what it is we think we know??

Maybe…just maybe…we should at least ask??

Maybe…just maybe…that is what you would want others to do for you??

cornfield crash

Your Daily Proverb ~ 15:17 (Better peace with veggies?)

“Better a small serving of vegetables with love
than a fattened calf with hatred.”
 v15:17

Family. You’ve heard the saying, “You can’t live with them, but you can’t live without them either.” … Well, yes, I can live without them. They say blood is thicker than water…but I don’t believe that is true for humans. We are fallible beings. I do believe that is true for God’s people, who are connected through the perfect blood of Jesus…not the blood of a fallible man.

Do you remember family dinners? Are they even in existence anymore? When disharmony is the dish of the day…a TV tray is much more peaceful. Sadly, we miss out on family time. But, when the conflict, back-biting, ridiculing, and the put-down’s flow, I’d much rather sit by myself with a bowl of…dare I say…broccoli *gasp* than to sit at a full table with people who cause one to have to come up fighting just to breathe. Yep…you can keep your fattened calf.

The family God brings into my life is where the love flows…

Fattened calf...actually, this was probably a bull at one time... ;)

Fattened calf…actually, this was probably a bull at one time… 😉

 

Can we just like each other?

Why do you find it so hard to like me?” That seems to be a common question in our society. Bookstore shelves are full of self-help books trying to answer this question. We seem to think that happiness in our horizontal relationships, not our vertical relationship, is the key to inner satisfaction. But we don’t stop to consider that we are fallible beings. Why do we always have our expectations too high? We tend to walk through relationship after relationship automatically setting ourselves up for failure.

So, why? Why do some people like me…and others don’t?

Do you not like me because of something I did…or who I am?

Do you not like me because…

*of my gender or ethnicity? (Like I can help that!)
*of differing religions? (Tolerance anyone??)
*of my accent, level of education, or social status? (We all put on our pants one leg at a time!)
*you feel threatened by my position or that I have a position you wanted? (work/church/etc.)
*I have physical/mental deformities? (But for the Grace of God there go I…)
*I am single…married…divorced? (This is a big one!)
*I am married to your dad/mom (the step syndrome!)…or your ex (the jealous syndrome)?
*I am married/related to someone you don’t like? (soooo Jr. High!)
*I am married/related to someone you do like? (again…soooo Jr. High!)
*I may have been mean or ignored you in Junior High? (People do change you know!)
*you had me on your own pedestal, and in my humaneness, I let you down? (Unrealistic expectations)

Do I not like you for the same reasons??

Isn’t it about time we all get over ourselves???

Everyone is consumed with their own little world. Most people go through life worried about the thoughts others have toward them, when in reality, others are only consumed with themselves and don’t even give a thought to anyone else.

One of my favorite sayings…

At 20 we’re only concerned with what others think of us.
At 40 we really don’t care what others think of us.
At 60 we realize nobody really thinks of us.
And at 80 we finally just live happy!

Have you known people who were not concerned with how anyone was hurt by what they did, yet their concern was wrapped around the thought that someone may not like them? People pleasers always hurt someone. Think about it. If everyone has their own agenda, whose agenda do you fill? These people are also called peace keepers instead of peace makers. Peace keepers will please the dominate people to keep the drama at a minimum, all the while hurting the meek. But peace makers will stand by the truth and only please God. Yes, someone will always be upset, mad, and out-right disgruntled, because we are selfish human beings who only want our own agenda. Someone will always make everyone feel bad for not following their agenda. Yet, so will the next person. And the next…

Some people seem to be plagued by mean people, while I seem to be plagued by people pleasers! Then again…maybe I am the mean people who plague others! I don’t see it. Frankly, my intentions are usually, always, most of the time, meant for the good. But then again, they say the addict is the last to admit to any indiscretion. Even though I have studied psychology and all the personality/temperament types…maybe, just maybe “myself” is the last I see?? But when you only strive to stand on truth, no matter who is offended or upset, God always makes sure everything works for the good of all involved. (Romans 8:28)

In God’s amazing design, everyone is different. We all have varying personalities, backgrounds, belief systems, and social economic status. I’ve read that 10% of people in your life will not like you no matter what you do. Some personalities will naturally clash. The trick is to overcome our individual preferences and develop an attitude of acceptance. But then, we can’t be offended over every little thing. Attitudes of acceptance requires self-acceptance. We need to be secure in who we are as well. Do we even like ourselves? Knowing that God loves us and accepts our person-hood should alleviate any angst for the opinions of others. Then we are free to accept others as they are…as God accepts us…the way Jesus accepted the woman at the well, the centurion, and the ragamuffin disciples.

So…can we just like each other? But just maybe…with God’s Spirit flowing through us…maybe we can learn to actually love each other? Maybe??

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” ~1 Peter 4:8

80-60-40-20

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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

…Is Thanksgiving simply forgiveness??

It’s such an irritating holiday. I guess since in most gatherings, the one we want to hang with doesn’t show up, but that one person who will inevitably wreck the day will never leave…hence why Black Friday has crept into Boring Thursday.

And the root of the problem…I mean…holiday?? Forgiveness. Something which very few of us have mastered.

We hear about being thankful…and eyeballs roll when some old aunt or sappy grandma makes that proverbial request for the “wave” and round the room we go with statements of that which we are thankful for this past year. Inevitably, someone always picks my quote first, you know, trying to come up with the biggest “awe” effect, forcing me to instantly come up with something else to avoid the copy-cat syndrome. But how original can anyone be? Yep. We’re all thankful for grandma’s mincemeat pie! (She says with a sarcastic grin!) Hokey-dokey.

But, as Mary-Lou curiously questioned the Grinch, just what is the real meaning?

My prayer…

Forgive me my complacency
Release my life from apathy
To you I come on bended knee
Lord consecrate my soul to thee

Forgive the heart that aches for you
Your mercy left my soul brand new
I lift the heart you cleansed from sin
Restore to me the joy within

I cry, My God, I long for you
Your spirit come as morning dew
Lord cover me with endless grace
I find my strength in your embrace

Forgive me my complacency
Your burning fire embrace in me
In your pure love I will enjoy
Your promised hope and perfect joy

nma

Psalm 139.14

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Just a small honoring for Veteran’s Day

Where are the old Veterans? Most of the good ones are gone now….only to be found in the stories from our old great uncles…

Can we bring back respect for our military once again…

Before we lose our dwindling freedoms…

My Daddy in Vietnam

Dad leaving for Vietnam

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

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Warning! This memory is not for weak stomachs! But there is a point to my drama…

I’ve wanted to get this memory out for three decades. I may lose some weak stomach readers. I may make you laugh. But some stories are epic. And we always wonder…why??

Christmas Vacation ’84. My daughter was 2 ½ (middle of the terrible two’s!), and my twin boys were 9 months. I came down with a 24 hour bug mid-way through our visit, missing out on a whole day of visiting with relatives who only cared about visiting with the grandchildren. It was perfect. Three days later, on our return flight home, we flew out of Chicago where my ex-in-laws traveled the four hour trip to send us off. I guess back then, the tickets were quite a bit cheaper to fly out of Chicago than at a closer airport. Half-way to Chicago, my fastidious daughter declared she was nauseous. The poor thing up-chucked all over the back seat of her grandparents car…spraying vomit on her Grandma! While I was cleaning her up my ex ordered his dad to pull to the side of the road so he could exit the vehicle as he almost lost his innards from the smell. Men usually do have weak stomachs.

The grandparents treated us to lunch at a very nice restaurant in Chicago, and my ex still felt ill. I assumed he was still reeling from the 2 year old’s puke. Regrettably, he waited until we were half way up in the air to decide his innards were not staying inside. The stewardess told him to return to his seat, to which he asked if she wanted him to hurl in the isle. Stepping aside, she let him go to the restroom…during the ascension. I was too busy wrangling three babies by myself to care if he had his seat belt on or dangled out the window! He then continued to vomit throughout the whole flight, using every barf bag on the plane. I wonder how much those lined tiny little bags cost…

About half way home, 40,000 feet or so up in the bright blue sky, my 9 month old decided to get sick…from the other end! Do you know how small those old airplane restrooms are?? There is no imagination wide enough to envision me cleaning diarrhea off a very active baby in an old airplane bathroom!! The toilet water was blue, with no lid, thank you very much. The sink was not large enough to wash hands properly, much less a whole baby. He kicked. It flew. That’s all I am going to say about that. Thank goodness we had baby wipes back then. In case you are wondering, I did leave the tiny restroom sterile, along with his butt.

One more little person to go…

An hour later, back in our seats, on our descent down, I smelled it again. Of course. After all, they are identical twins! We did not have booster seats back then, in the “stone ages”, so he was on the airplane seat. A cloth airplane seat. Now, a wet cloth airplane seat. I would not risk taking my baby to the tiny little restroom due to the plane descending, as most accidents happen on ascent or descent. So the seat got…more…wet.

Oh, the stares…the glares…the rejection! I waited until everyone vamoosed off the plane before grabbing my puking-pooping little family and headed for the nearest airport restroom. Again…there is no imagination wide enough to envision me changing a wiry 9 month old boy on the restroom floor (before the days of baby changing stations) in the Houston International Airport! My good friend who picked us up at the airport stood in front of us with the skirt of her sundress spread wide to keep the onlookers from looking. The midnight travelers were quite entertained…I was simply humiliated so bad I could not stop laughing. We were a first class three-ring circus. If you ever find someone who will live through that kind of smell with you…keep that friend for life!!

Oh…and to top that off…

We finally arrived home, it was midnight, and we had no food in the house due to us being gone the previous week. So after tucking every sick little body in bed, I headed for the store. The only reason I ventured out at 2:00am on that very foggy night was due to having only one vehicle…which my ex took to work every day, leaving me stranded in nowhereville with three babies. I drove to the edge of the neighborhood, about four blocks from home, and the car sputtered and died. Someone had siphoned our gas while we were on vacation! After walking through fog so thick you could cut it with a knife, I woke up my ex, who woke our neighbor back up, who took him to the gas station for gas…and milk.

Three months later…we moved four states away… 🙂

I’ve often wondered why. What possesses a person to endure this kind of drama…and yet, the next morning, hug, hold, kiss, and love the little ones God entrusted us. Motherhood. Hormones. The beauty of creation.

God, in his love, showed me a picture of His love. We puke on our creator, and he still loves us. We poop on his creation, and he still loves us. Yes, human parents are fallible. They screw up. Sometimes big-time. Sometimes, human parents don’t love their children. Sometimes parents physically or emotionally hurt their kids. Yet, God’s parental love is infallible. Perfect. God created the human parent-child love as a glimpse of his love for us. That gives me hope. No matter how far into sin that child (us) falls, God still loves his children. When every relationship on this sin-ravaged planet falls away, our creator God, in his grace, longs for us…for me…for you…

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” ~Matthew 7:7-8

 

Three Babies…

Momma & Babies

 

More babies…

Baby Kittens

 

And more babies…

Baby Bunnies

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Diaries, Journals, Poetry, & Secrets

I love poetry. But unless you’re one of those sweetie pie buttercups or deep dark depressing kind of people, you’re generally not going to sit and read a novel of poetry in your alone time. On the rare occasions that time comes, I’d rather curl up in my afghan with Louis L’Amour or Max Brand on a snowy night in my rocker by an open fire. Now that’s heaven!

But, occasionally, I’ll pop open something with meter and rhyme. That’s my journal. It’s safe. I only kept a “Diary” once as a kid. I began writing poetry notes after my sister found my diary and blabbed to the world how infatuated I was with what’s-his-name. Humph. (Oh yes, everyone has one of those relatives.) With poetry, one can write deep dark secrets in code…poetry code. Not many “get it”. But to those who do…one can hop into a whole ‘nother world. So, I thought I’d go out on a limb in this post and give you a smidgeon…

Like the leaves that grow
on a tree in spring,
words from a poet,
joy to our hearts bring.

When winter is past,
silent words inside,
come out in full bloom,
sing poetry’s pride.

My mother typically complained that no one ever did anything for her. I have pictures from the early 90’s showing lots of people gathered in the Shaffer’s neighborhood clubhouse, decorated with balloons, candles, streamers, and 50 candles on the cake (all at my expense). However, the only thing you will hear from her is how everyone forgot her half-century birthday. **Sigh**

I remember one Mother’s Day back in the same time frame, I was asked to take part in the proverbial church program. I don’t recall the name of the song the director picked for my solo, but it was about a mother’s love, and I was surrounded with the kids on the platform. My vocal chords were in full swing that morning, which is strange since most mornings I’m lucky to get out a gurgle. Along with that song, I wrote and recited this poem expressing my vision of motherhood:

A Mother’s Legacy

A visit long ago,
memories deep in my mind.
Peach cobbler, apple pie,
made with hands old and kind.

Asleep in her bosom,
Grandma would slowly rock,
humming, “My child love on”
not a thought of the clock.

My mother’s loving care,
for each button to sew,
deep in the night she worked,
that I might steal the show.

So proud of each success,
as if it were her own.
When failure would descend,
she then made her love known.

With children of my own,
this legacy to pass.
Careers, sitters, day care!
Button up! Off to class!

No time for soft moments.
precious time we misuse.
Society’s pressure,
priorities to choose.

Will children call me blessed?
The Lord’s ways have I taught?
Did I take out the time
to instruct as I ought?

Asleep on my bosom,
my grandchild I now rock,
humming, “My child love on”
not a thought of the clock.

The “code”?? Can you feel the security in a grandma’s care? Can you see the love of a mother who is available to help make costumes for her child’s 1st grade school play? Can you feel the frustration of not having the same experience with her own children for the busyness of modern life? Can you sense the pendulum swing back around as she loves on her own grandchild? Did you catch the codes?

Poetry can be reflections of our realities…more often; poetry is a reflection of our dreams.

On that Mother’s Day…church was overflowing with mothers everywhere…

Except mine…she didn’t show up that Sunday…

 Poetry Journal

Unconfessed Sin ~ My Thoughts on Forgiveness…

YES! When no one else will…the Lord gives forgiveness, grace, and mercy! He loves us!

And yet, most people do not think about an unforgiving God. He is a forgiving God, a loving God, a just God…and yes, an unforgiving God. Even though that thought should scare most people, it doesn’t. The most direct indication of times when God does not forgive is in the words of Jesus during his sermon on the mount (Matthew 6:5-15). God says we are to forgive…so that we can be forgiven. Otherwise, he will not forgive us. Why will he not forgive us if we do not forgive others? Because, God cannot look upon sin. And unforgiveness…is sin.

God is a God of reconciliation and restoration. But true relationship is built on trust. Since we live in a fallen world, with a carnal nature, no human is perfect. Our relationship with the Lord begins with a confession of our own sin. Without an admission of our faults, we cannot begin the restoration process. This is true with any relationship. Jesus said to Ask, Seek, Knock. Then we will find. (Matthew 7:7) Forgiveness works the same whether it be man or God. If I have wronged someone, or they have wronged me, without confession and repentance first, then reconciliation, and finally restoration, we will always have broken relationship.

We’ve all heard the quote to addicts that the first step to recovery is in admitting to the problem. If we do not admit to our guilt in the relationship, any relationship, we hide behind lies. For no one is without guilt. A relationship based on lies is no relationship at all. 1 John 1:8-10 says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” Yes, it all begins with our own humility. Then and only then will the relationship be open for restoration.

Confession (or ‘fessing up to our wrongs) is that which makes us humble and gives us a pride reduction. How often do we (speaking for myself as well) hide, or justify, or blame-shift our sins? Not only is it humbling to admit when we have messed up…it’s embarrassing! We even throw the “you just can’t take anything, I was only joking” card because we have too much pride to admit our own wrong. We want to ignore and excuse our own sin by throwing it under the rug. At the same time we expect everyone else to forget our offense, forgive and go on, without repentance, as if no wrong was done. We even claim the person we hurt is unforgiving and self-centered if the pain we inflicted is not simply ignored. That, my friend, is blame-shifting and making excuses to justify our actions. I think we have all done that a time or two. Throwing the responsibility of the relationship rift onto the other person, while ignoring our own wrongs, simply negates reconciliation.

 

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forgive

/fəˈɡɪv/

verb -gives, -giving, -gave, -given

  1. to cease to blame or hold resentment against (someone or something)

Word Origin

Old English forgiefan ; see for-, give

The modern sense of “to give up desire or power to punish” is from use of the compound as a Germanic loan-translation of Latin perdonare.

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The best way to keep in close relationship with God is to be at peace with others, even those whom I have wronged. Sometimes, that means I may have to humble myself and admit I really messed up…which seems to happen pretty often. But to keep any hard feelings or resentment out of my relationships, I need to let them know that I know I messed up…and apologize. And then, their forgiveness is their responsibility, not ours. My responsibility is to admit my wrongs, ask forgiveness, and attempt to make amends. The rest is up to them. But, remember, we have no right to be concerned with the other person’s heart until we have cleared our own first.

What if others do not forgive us? What if they always harbor resentment? Then, I still need to do my part. Their heart, their forgiveness, is their responsibility.

What if I am the one who is hurt, and the offender never admits or repents for the hurt and pain they inflicted? What if they move away or die before the relationship can be reconciled? It is essential for us to be willing and ready to forgive others to have freedom in our own hearts and to keep bitterness from creeping in. We do not negate the sin, but we continue to treat them with kindness while we wait for the Lord to open their hearts to repentance. The sin is still there, but we need to release to God our right for punishment and/or revenge. The relationship may always be broken and the trust shattered, but our hearts need to be free of vengeance and always be ready to forgive, just as we have assurance of God’s forgiveness for our own sins.

So, we must forgive to be forgiven. Don’t misunderstand, forgiveness does not negate or dismiss the sin. Sin is still sin. The other person is still responsible to God for their sin. For us to forgive means to release to God our right for punishment and/or revenge for the wrongs done to us. We free ourselves of the responsibility of judgment against another. Why must we forgive others in order to be forgiven ourselves? Because, when we hold bitterness, anger, or hatred in our hearts, we are essentially playing God. In our pride, we forget our own sin as we focus on the sins of others. When we release others of recompense and repent of our own sin, God’s forgiveness flows through our hearts and His Joy floods our souls!

If we have unforgiving hearts, we have sinful hearts. Let’s let God deal with the hearts of others. Release them and let it go. Then, when we admit to our own faults and ask God for forgiveness, He is always eager to forgive, just as a loving father forgives his child. We have but to ask. Even though God is just, he is also love. “You do not have to get cleaned up to take a bath!” He is not asking for our perfection…that’s why he sent Jesus to die for us…he is only asking for our hearts so he can pour in his love.

Repentance must go with Forgiveness

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Scriptures to ponder:

~ Psalm 32:5
I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

~ Matthew 5:23-24
“So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and suddenly remember that a friend has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar and go and apologize and be reconciled to him, and then come and offer your sacrifice to God. Come to terms quickly with your enemy before it is too late…” (He doesn’t say, “Only if your realities line up do you apologize.” He said be reconciled. Admit. Apologize.)

~ Matthew 6:14-15
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

~ Romans 12:9-21
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

 

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**Yes, the pictures are mine! 😉

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

You want to wash MY feet??

I am one who despises religion…I’m more into relationship. I go to church…for relationship. Not the traditional rituals. The bible is clear the traditions held by mankind holds no meaning in God’s eyes. The apostle Paul describes it best in Galatians 3. Rituals, traditions, religions do not save the soul. Yet, we still have them. We still go. To. Church. Maundy Thursday seems to be the new rage these days. Our church held their first Maundy Thursday service this year. Normally, I am not one to get hyped up about these kinds of services. They seem so very…ritualistic.

Jesus taught in parables. He taught by example. Kids learn more by observing their parents than from any textbook. Traditions, festivals, religious holidays, etc. do serve a purpose. They “show” us the event. But save us? No. So then, why do we bother?

I was ever so glad when I was asked to run the media during the Thursday service. Work is always the perfect excuse to avoid participation. I could hide behind the sound booth where no one notices. My husband was asked at the last minute to participate in the live depiction of the Last Supper. So we were both busy. All settled. Foot washing ritual avoided!

During the service I hit play on a couple of videos which showed Ray Vander Laan explaining in detail the purposes behind each ritualistic position. Why they leaned on their right…or was it left…arm. Why they wanted to sit in such and such place at the table. Why Jesus dipped in the bowl of bitter herbs…with Judas. That part of the service, I love. The why’s. We read and hear things about Christianity that makes no absolute sense in today’s world. We have dishwashers and stoves. We drive cars and fly in planes. Why does it matter which arm they sat on? We sit at the table…they…the dirt floor.

Jesus, in his loving and patient way, lived what he spoke. He said serve. So, He Served. He was the leader. The King of the pack. The President. We are to serve those above. Yet, Jesus grabbed the title of the servant…the seat on the other side of the table…and took up the rag. He washed their feet. The King…washed their feet!

wash20feet

So, yeah…we have this “Foot Washing” in the middle of the service. Oh, don’t get me wrong…I love a good foot massage! I am not above having my feet washed…hey go for the whole deal…I’ll even provide the lotions! And for me to wash others…fiddle-sticks, I’ve wiped plenty of babies’ butts! No, the mechanics of the act have no effect on me.

It’s the ritual. The meaning. Lost in today’s world.

A low voice circles around the sound booth door…can I wash your feet?

If there is one person in the whole church who deserves a spa pampering day…it’s the momma of a pre-teen and a very special boy! I believe the parents are just as, if not more, special as the child. Life never quits. She drops in bed exhausted every night. Yet, full of love. Her house is the host of many a gathering…even in the midst of their own chaos. Always working. Always caring. Always giving. And she wanted to wash my feet.

wheelchair

No way…I should be washing hers!

 

Then Peter’s words popped out. And Jesus replied. And the least shall be first…and the first shall be least. So we wash. And be washed. Washed with the Spirit. The spirit of fellowship. The spirit of Love.

 

Ritual? Yes…to show…to remind us to feel…to love.

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*I don’t own the rights to the original wash bowl & wheel chair images, and I’m not making any money on them.

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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The Home That Love Built

A little story about my ancestors…

Great-Aunt Mildred Golden, Great-Grandma Gladys Golden-Frantz, and Little Me!

As a child, Bethany Children’s Home deep in the back hills of Kentucky left an indelible impression on me. Nestled in the bottom land by Holly Creek, the first sight looked like a brilliant painting by Thomas Kinkade. The Appalachian Mountains protected the home from modern civilization. Magnificent, aged trees hovered as angels spreading their wings. The only clearings were the fields on the farms, and the hillside where the old buildings seemed to harmonize with nature.

Living in the city, I rarely had the opportunity to breathe in the air God created our lungs to inhale. The aroma of huge oak, beech, cedar, and pine trees mixed with the tickling of the dust from the dirt road steadily lifted the soul. Pennyroyals and goldenrod lined the road creating a natural landscape along the curb of the forest. I often miss the simple beauty of a landscape created by God alone. A city offers neat little houses lined up in perfect rows. Shrubs, trees, plants, and flowers are precisely placed within utopian gardens. While the perfect houses and the precise gardens are charming, nothing compares with the picturesque beauty of nature.

With scarcely a motor vehicle traveling back and forth, we could hear only the sound of nature. Maple, hickory and walnut leaves played their stringed instruments in the wind. Cardinals sang harmony and mockingbirds sang backup. A woodpecker led the percussion. Only the fighting of my siblings interrupted the earthly orchestra.

Throughout time, Bethany Children’s Home, a place we call Bethany, seemed unchanged. The plain, wood buildings always needed paint. An old windowless, three-room, two-story log cabin was on the property when a local man donated the land in 1926. It stood silently still. The original wooden church burnt to the ground before I was born; therefore, they built the new church of cement blocks. No steeple stood on top of the church, just a small wooden cross on the front attic roof. Sounds from the “Liberty” bell in front of the church called all to worship. The two-story dorms were endlessly long. They reminded me of old government apartment buildings. Several smaller buildings just as dilapidated as the first, were scattered on the hillside. The home began with only three little orphaned girls. Known as “The Bethany Orphanage” in 1926, in just a few short years, by 1956 the home gained a Board of Trustees and became “Bethany Children’s Home, Inc.” The home was started by three women : Marjorie Burt and Laura Wendland, missionaries from the Free Methodist Mission in Oakdale, Kentucky, and Lina Miller (from the Chicago Evangelistic Institute class of 1924, Miss Burt’s Alma Mater, who resigned her position in the office of a business firm in Dixon, Illinois to join her two friends). Mildred Golden joined the three women the next year in 1927. With love for the children, their mission began in the bottom land of Holly Creek with nothing but a dream, a prayer, and a miracle.

I visited the home as a child and my Great-great-aunt Mildred was the first to greet us. Great-grandma Gladys was waiting anxiously in the background. I never fully appreciated the sisters. As any child would, I only saw them as old. Born in 1898 and 1900, they wore the dress of spinsters. Their gray hair projected a crown of righteousness. Thick glasses kept secret the direction of dissenting looks. When Aunt Mildred welcomed us, her voice was not a loud voice, yet she commanded attention. Great-grandma Gladys, being the elder, had a quieter nature about her, yet she never went unheard.

Aunt Mildred had an abundance of spirited energy. Always working, she expected an equivalent effort from others as well. She gave orders with an air of sternness, apparent even when she smiled. A well-deserved air of authority emanated from Aunt Mildred. The children knew, in her devoted manner, she loved them deeply. Somehow, through her gruff exterior, she obviously loved her stature in life. Called to the mission field by God, she originally set her sights on India. Aunt Mildred graduated from Asbury University in 1925, and subsequently began nurse’s training at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. Through a series of events, she left Ohio and arrived at Bethany on March 29, 1927, the year after its conception. There she stayed; a towering rock that helped build Bethany Children’s Home. Nearly sixty years later, her declining health forced her to move in with my grandparents in 1983, just before her death in 1986. Her primary position was a school teacher and nurse. She became the first clerk at the Bethany Post Office on July 28, 1928; Acting Postmaster in 1950; and Postmaster, April 19, 1951, maintaining that position until May 31, 1970. During her nearly sixty years at the orphanage, as a pioneer nurse she delivered 267 babies without a doctor being on the case at the time of delivery. Aunt Mildred never married. The orphanage became her mission…and her family.

Quite a bit shorter than her younger sister, Great-grandma Gladys walked with a limp, crippled from polio as a child. Deep down inside this quiet spirit lay a gentle sense of humor. During evening assembly, great-grandma acted out one of her many readings. They were always funny, and some were quite ornery for a conservative great-grandmother. I enjoyed her peaceful demeanor, but being an inquisitive child, I eventually ran off to find some adventure of my own.

In the dining hall, everyone ate on long tables with a staff member on the end of each. That was quite an experience. They always expected proper manners from the children. The food was home-grown, and the milk was fresh from the cow. I didn’t care for the vegetables, but I always begged for more fresh, raw milk. The flavor was sweet and strong, a very different flavor from the city, store-bought milk. Great-grandma packed a jug for our trip home, just for me. My most memorable time came on a walk across the road to the farm which supplied most of the food and milk for the orphanage. Being from the city, I was unaware of the shock I would receive when I unconsciously grasped the electric fence to aid my hike up the hill. While I was listening to the bellowing cows, and the yellow-bellied sapsucker in the Forrest, I suddenly found my backside in the middle of the dirt road! While the laughter flowed easily from the children, aside from my embarrassment, I sensed an air of contentment.

Great-grandma spent most of her days running the used clothing store. An old tin building, it was more of a shack that reeked with the aroma of moth balls. All the clothes at the home were donated by outsiders. The staff rationed the children out what they needed, and the children could buy extras with money they earned from chores. My mother gave us spending money to buy items in the store, not because we needed any clothes, but as a means to help support the children’s home. Great-grandma always smiled and patted our heads, as older people do, when we gave her the money for our purchase.

Through her peaceful spirit, given to her by God himself, it was apparent Great-grandma’s life had not been easy. She was young when she married. While pregnant with her second child, my great-grandfather left. No one ever saw him again, except in the features of the two children he left behind. After living at Bethany for the school year of 1927, she returned to her parents home in East Liverpool, Ohio, in March of 1928, to raise my grandmother and her brother. During that first winter in Bethany, it was not unusual for her and the two kids to find streaks of snow across the bed clothing in the morning, after a night of snow that had blown through the cracks in the walls of the side room that had been added to the store where they lived. During her years in Ohio, Great-grandma visited the orphanage often, and in 1939 she returned to Bethany to take care of the Home Girls and was in charge of the used clothing store until her death in 1977, thirty-eight years later. Great-Grandma never remarried, finding contentment in her position at Bethany and the many children she cared for. My Grandma had such fond memories of Bethany from her childhood, she actually sent my dad and his two siblings to live with Great-Grandma Gladys and Great-Aunt Mildred to attend school for three years in the late 40’s, giving three generations to have lived in the bottom land by Holly Creek.

Unwanted children…that’s what they called them. I never thought of my newfound friends in that regard. We played on the large iron swings, and ran through the fields just the same as my friends at home. The children were loved and well adjusted, a far cry from the horror stories about orphanages in the media today. I remember stories of the mountaineers leaving children to the door of the orphanage during the night, especially during the depression years. They had no means of feeding their families, yet loved their children and wanted for them a better life. At the orphanage, instead of a mountain shack, they were placed under a roof with heat on their feet. The children were fed, schooled, and definitely loved.

I have not returned to the tranquil valley in the Appalachians since the sisters passed away. Often, I consider taking my own children to the place which holds a few very dear memories for me. They need to experience the natural tranquility of the bottom land near Holly Creek, to experience the joy of giving love to those who have so much to give back. I cannot give this priceless heritage to my children for the Bethany Children’s Home we knew no longer exists. Government red tape forced the orphanage to close in the 1980’s. The home then became a private Christian school in 1986, leaving the mountaineers to fend for themselves or depend on government handouts. My children will see the orphanage only through my eyes when I reminisce on my own experience.

I often wonder, since Great-grandma is gone, since Aunt Mildred is gone, and since the home where so much love abounded is gone, who will take care of the orphans?

 

My Daddy, Great-Aunt Mildred Golden, Great-Grandma Gladys Golden-Frantz, and Little Me! Visiting @ Bethany Children’s Home.

 

My Mom, siblings, and Great-Grandma Golden-Frantz…and of course, Babette our Poodle!

 

Mom with my siblings visiting Bethany.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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False Assumptions

On our Indiana farm, when the snow falls, the fields are but a blanket of white covering the ground. It is absolutely beautiful, and of course I am continually snapping pictures. Our farm is always full of photographic moments.

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However, on the coldest night of the season last year, Elsie, one of our dairy cows, went into labor. The calf was breech so the next night, my husband called the Vet to assist with the birth. Unfortunately, by that time, the calf had died, bloated inside, and Elsie was fading fast. After working on her for a while, the Vet finally said there was no hope, she was not going to make it. He turned to my husband and chastised him for not calling earlier that morning. The Vet let him know just how horrible his farming abilities were. How could any farmer neglect a cow, resulting in the death of both cow and calf? The farmer did not respond. Being a city girl, I could not respond either. This was the first time I had ever witnessed something so ugly, and I was trying to process the magnitude of what just happened. The vet left disgusted.

If only he had known the events of the previous 24 hours…

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The snow had been falling all day, and by evening it was pretty much a white-out. Here in this Indiana farm, the wind blows like an Oklahoma prairie. My poor husband was outside in sub-zero temperatures trying to make sure the animals were fed and gathered in protected areas. He noticed Elsie was starting to calve, and proceeded to corral her into the barn where she could give birth in a calmer, more protected environment. She must have been frightened by the fierce snow storm and turned toward the pasture at full speed. He ran after her but the snow was falling so thick it completely covered her trail. He came back for a flashlight and headed out again. As the temperature was already below zero, he was eventually forced to come inside to keep his feet and hands from frost-bite.  If he would have been gone much longer, I would have gone out after him and in the white-out we both might have frozen to death while looking for each other, along with the cow. Early the next morning, he took Salty, the herd dog, and headed out to the fields to find and bring in Elsie. But, she was nowhere to be found. The ground was covered with at least twelve inches of fresh snow, and even Salty was unable to pick up any tracks or scent of the cow. The temperature was so low it was too dangerous for the dog to be out long. My farmer brought the herd in to milk, and then went out to look for Elsie again. Finally, she wandered up to the back of the barn about dusk and he was able to lead her into the barn where he had made a bed for her with hay bales and immediately called the vet. The tracks she left led back to the woods. No farmer ever would have found her in the white-out the night before.

I think you can see by now the point to this little story. How often do we jump to conclusions and pass judgment based on partial information? The vet based his opinion of the farmer on what he saw…not knowing anything about the previous night. Nor did he ask. How would his opinion change if he had been here the night before with my husband outside freezing in the sub-zero snowfall? Instead of leaving in a heap of disgust, he would be crying with the farmer and giving him a hero’s pat on the back for trying so hard to save the cow and calf. What a difference the other side of the story makes in our conclusions. There is always more than one side to every story. How different might we see things when we dig deeper. The sin of assumption…

How many lives have been destroyed from gossip based on the word of one who only knows in part? How often have false accusations based on judgments derived from partial information led to destroyed relationships? How hard is trust to regain? I believe we have all come across those who decided to dislike us based on the biased words of another.

Forgiveness. Wisdom. Prayer. The knowing that the only one to whom we are responsible knows all. The Lord knows the other side of the story. He gives comfort to hurting hearts. The 27th Psalm of David says, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” In other words, though every person turns against us, usually based on misleading information, the Lord knows the heart, and will, as Isaiah 54 puts it, “refute every tongue that accuses us.” He will hold us in the palm of His hand and dry every tear. The knowledge of God’s amazing love gives us the power to forgive those offenses and be aware of misleading situations so as to not offend others ourselves. No matter what floats about in the thoughts of others, we can rest in the comforting arms of the Lord, for He is where truth abides.

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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…

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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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