Sunday, May 29, 2011

Love Worth Fighting For Part 3 (Conclusion)

This is my last post in the series based on "Love Worth Fighting For" (at least I think so....but no promises!).  This is "my take" on the final speaking portion of the event.  Kirk Cameron did an AMAZING job presenting ONE verse of scripture.  Sometimes I'm amazed when great speakers can speak on ONE verse for a significant amount of time and you not realize that so much time has gone by!  I have read THIS verse MANY times and it takes no more than just a few seconds.  I love when God has inspired people with the incredible skill of taking one verse and being able to dissect it and pull so much from it!  That is exactly what Kirk did with 1 Peter 3:7.

"Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with [them] according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered."  (King James----version that Kirk used).

"In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God's gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered."  (NLT ---version that we are currently reading from).

Kirk basically took this verse and broke it down one word at a time, explaining the role of a husband in a Christ-centered marriage. 

  1. Dwell with them---Spend time together.  INVEST time in each other.  Do LIFE TOGETHER.  To be good at something, it takes TAKES TIME!  A great marriage isn't contagious.  You don't catch it from someone else.  A great marriage comes about from doing life together.  NOTHING is wrong with having separate hobbies, but they CAN NOT take precedence over marriage.  You need to CRAVE time together more than you CRAVE time apart.  Time together matters more than anything else on your "to-do" list of responsibilities. 
  2. Knowledge---KNOW your spouse.  Became a student of her.  Learn everything you can know about her.  Remember how you hung on to every word and action when you were dating because you JUST HAD to know all about her.  Rekindle that same interest.  Know what she likes.  Know what she hates.  Know what is meaningful to her.  Know what fires her up----both in negative ways and good ways.  Know when to approach her.  Know her enough to know when she needs space and when she needs extra tenderness.  Know what MEANS something to her.  Remember that romance comes from sacrifice and thought----not from convenience.  Your wife KNOWS the difference. 
  3. Honor---Respect your wife.  Show her how much you honor HER and your VOWS.  Walk away from any and all forms of pornography.  Don't watch movies that even show a hint of disrespect to your wife in the forms of nudity, sexual immorality, etc....  (He spoke about how the final kiss in Fireproof was with his WIFE done in shadow because it was honoring his vows to not even kiss another actress.)  When the guys start telling jokes, demeaning women in any form, or start commenting lustfully about another woman----WALK AWAY!  It is being honoring of your wife and respecting her to not take part in any such conversations.  Treasure her!  Treat her with respect publicly and privately. 
  4. Weaker vessel---recognize that though she is weaker in regards to the human body, she is NOT intellectually weak!  Protect her always.  God wired your wife to feel safe under YOUR protection.  Physically protect her.  Emotionally protect her.  If you travel away from home, make sure she knows that you have made safeguards for her in the forms of neighbors checking in, security system, phone calls, etc....  It's not just in the terms of physical protection.  Protect her in the every day stuff.  Manage your aggression in conflict.  Make sure she is always safe with you.  Safe to be herself and safe to share her innermost thoughts.  Meet her with unconditional love and acceptance.  Constantly be ready to ask your wife, "Do you feel save with me?"  If she honestly answers no, then be willing to meet her needs of being the protection in the way she needs. 
  5. Heirs together of the grace of life----you MUST open up.  You can't be a closed book.  To be heirs together, you have to intimately share ALL aspects of you.  Your wife WANTS to know you.  Your wife does care about what you are thinking. 
  6. Prayers not be hindered---How many times have you felt like your prayers are "stuck", that God is not hearing you?  Generally, the hindrance in praying is because you are missing something in parts 1-5.  To be fruitful in praying, you have to be fulfilling the first parts of the verse. 
Those are some pretty tall orders.  Yet, it's God's word.  It is his directions for being the kind of husband he designed.  It's obvious that if you aren't meeting those requirements than marriage is not as God designed for you.  That's some pretty heavy stuff.  Those aren't some instructions that you follow once and then everything is fairy-tale.  It takes work.  REAL work.  It takes commitment.  Serious commitment.  It just doesn't happen! 

Though Kirk specifically spoke  "man-to-man" to all of the men in the building, he still reached me.  I don't know how all of the other women in the room felt.  I can only speak for myself and what was going on in my heart.  I admit that when he first started talking and instructing the men that I was going to be wanting to shout "amen", "preach it", "that's right!", "told you so!" or any of those other finger wagging, head nodding moments!  Without a doubt he did hit on some areas that Kevin and I know that he needs to work on, but that is beside the point.  What matters is what was going on in my heart.  It didn't take very long for me to feel convicted in my own actions and heart matters.

For Kevin to be the God-designed husband he needs to be, I HAVE TO BE THE WOMAN OF GOD He designed me to be!  It's not all on Kevin's shoulders.  Yes, he is designed to be the spiritual leader of the home.  However, failure can't be pointed directly at him when things are falling apart.  (Neither can victory be celebrated alone!)  You see, Kirk didn't point out the first 6 verses in that chapter and speak about them.   He could have spoke hours about the needs of wives to live out Proverbs 31.  Just as much as God requires of the men, he requires that of the women as well.  We, as wives, have huge responsibilities as well!

Though there are plenty of verses telling us wives how to act, I have been thinking constantly about the verse he spoke from.  It may have been instructions for the men, but I've been thinking about my responsibility in those instructions. 

For Kevin to meet the needs of 1-5, so that prayers aren't hindered and our marriage is strong, I have responsibilities as well.  I have to make our home a place he WANTS to dwell.  I have to be worth WANTING to know.  I have to be willing to SHARE the knowledge he needs to know about me.  He isn't going to read my mind.  I have to show respect to him and in all situations.  I have to make him feel safe enough to be an open book with me.  Protection is a two way street.  Though I physically can't protect him, I can protect his heart.  I can be HIS safe haven against the world.  Let's face it----the world is a HARD place for Godly men to live in.  They are bombarded every instant with declining values and immorality.  I have the responsibility to make our home the place that he is most accepted, valued, and treasured. I constantly think about the saying that has sparked so much growth in our marriage: "A woman's heart should be so immersed in God that her husband has to seek Him first to find HER!" 

The burden of responsibility of an extraordinary marriage doesn't fall directly on the shoulders of the husband.  It's a team effort.  He needs to be doing what God is asking of him and I need to be doing what God is asking of me.  Together, focused on God, is where the marriage is beautiful.  Two truly become one.  Marriage becomes the beautiful blessing He ordained it to be.  It doesn't come any other way. 

Hard to do?  Absolutely! 
Worth it?  Without a doubt. 
Failures?  Countless. 
Give up?  NEVER! 
Love is worth fighting for. 
Love IS worth fighting for. 
LOVE is worth fighting for.
Love is worth FIGHTING for.
Love is WORTH fighting for.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Love Worth Fighting For Part 2

The middle portion of last weekend's "Love Worth Fighting For" Marriage Event was presented by Warren Barfield.  He touched us so deeply as he told the story behind his writing of the song sharing the same name as the event and the theme of Fireproof.  He originally wrote the song for his wife Megan and it eventually was chosen to be part of Fireproof. 

The background behind the song wasn't an easy story for him to tell, nor is it an easy song for him to sing.  It tells the story of a very dark time in their lives.  The song came about as his marriage fell apart.  He tells the story of the pretzel.  It basically is a prime example of how something very trivial, very small, and very insignificant can grow to be so large that it spirals so out of control that is destroys.  What started out as a trivial incident quickly escalated to a broken marriage.  A line was crossed where words couldn't be taken back and feelings couldn't be erased.  Divorce was their "way out". 

However, God intervened.  Their marriage was restored and now a beautiful testimony of reconciliation and forgiveness.  The song was written during the time of counseling and rebuilding.  He sang it to his wife on the porch of her parents house.  It was his way of telling her that she was worth fighting for.  He was asking her if she still felt he was worth fighting for.   The word are powerful.

Basically, he spoke about fighting.  JUST KEEP FIGHTING.  Love isn't a fight, but it's worth fighting for.  As long as you are fighting, there is a victory possible.  It's the leaving and giving up that destroys beyond repair.  Sometimes in life the greater the battle is the greater the victory. 

So many marriages are falling apart.  Instead of fighting for each other, they just leave each other.  Learning to fight FOR each other as much as you fight AGAINST each other eventually leads to a successful marriage. 

I'm currently stunned with the number of marriages that are crumbling.  It seems as if in the past few weeks, not a few days hasn't gone by that I haven't heard about someone leaving, wanting to leave, or finalizing a divorce.  In many cases, those marriages could have been saved with the right tools and extreme commitment to "fight".  My heart also breaks for those that want to fight and their partner is unwilling.  My heart breaks for those that are suffering abuse and have NO choice but to seek refuge outside of the marriage.  It's an epidemic and I'm searching.  Searching for the right words to say to those that are breaking.  Searching for how to best help the broken.  Searching for ways to help others keep fighting because they have marriages worth fighting for.  I love the part about "if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door!"

 Let's face it, many of us have had times that leaving would have been the easiest option.  I'm thankful for those times that Kevin and I kept fighting.  It was worth it.  It felt impossible to overcome at the time and the pain was unspeakable.  The rewards of the not giving up are unmeasurable.  The beauty of our God centered marriage today is the result of NEVER giving up.  Love can't keep a record of wrongs or it will destroy yourselves and your marriage.  It is HARD to not keep those "lists", but is necessary!!

Lyrics (and oh my....they are so moving!)

Love is not a place

To come and go as we please

It's a house we enter in

Then commit to never leave

So lock the door behind you

Throw away the key

We'll work it out together

Let it bring us to our knees


Love is a shelter in a raging storm

Love is peace in the middle of a war

And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door

No, love is not a fight but it's something worth fighting for

To some, love is a word

That they can fall into

But when they're falling out

Keeping that word is hard to do


Love is a shelter in a raging storm

Love is peace in the middle of a war

And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door

No, love is not a fight but it's something worth fighting for

Love will come to save us

If we'll only call

He will ask nothing from us

But demand we give our all


Love is a shelter in a raging storm

Love is peace in the middle of a war

And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door

No, love is not a fight but it's something worth fighting for

I will fight for you

Would you fight for me?

It's worth fighting for

On a side note:  Warren previewed a new song and it was amazing.  I can't wait until it is in the main stream Christian radio world.  It talks about how we can get stuck in praying, but not DOING mode.  It was about how sometimes we have to step out in faith.  "Praying, not doing.  Not living your life is spending your time waiting for the right time."  I've been thinking so much lately about how often that happens in my life.  How many opportunities have I missed because I was waiting for a situation to be "perfect" before acting?  Sometimes God just needs us to MOVE IN FAITH and allow Him to do the rest!  

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fireproofing YOUR Marriage!

Here we go:  two blogs in two days!  Apparently being forced to be still while trying to recover from hurting my back has allowed my brain cells to flow again.   Feeling MUCH better today!  Seems like maybe that forced "rest" has benefited more than just my physical well being.

Saturday night at Love Worth Fighting For, Kirk Cameron delivered two different sermons on marriage.  He left no room for doubt that he was a sold out man of God.  He started the night off with his humorous side and did the run down of his time on Growing Pains.  He quickly got the star struck fever out of the way and got down to the HEART of the matter. 

The first talk with based on the truths presented in Fireproof.  Watching that movie was a turning point in taking our marriage from the path of destruction to the success that it is now.  Though our "issues" didn't include pornography, the movie still taught us so many lessons about fighting for marriage by transforming our relationships with Christ FIRST!

Kirk spoke about the things Caleb (his character) and Catherine were battling and where the breakdown of their marriage was coming from.  He specifically talked about why Caleb's original attempt at doing the Love Dare failed because his heart hadn't changed.  

Specifically, Kirk described 3 keys to making every marriage fireproof.  Granted, I admit what he had to say wasn't "new".  There weren't bells and whistles and promises of quick fixes.  However, what he did do was fire us up as Christians.  THAT is the TRUE key to marriage----being sold out for Christ!

Key 1:  "The heart of my problem is the problem of my heart!"   He spent a significant time explaining that marriage is impossible without God as the center.  Attending church isn't good enough.  Believing in Christ isn't enough.  You have to be completely sold out and have the Holy Spirit living inside of you.  We are incapable of real love without the indwelling of the spirit.  Our heart is naturally deceitful and selfish (which is why we can't always operate according to our feelings).  Only God can clean our hearts and open them up in the right capacity that allows us to truly love someone else.   The "Love Dare" only began to work for Caleb once his heart had been transformed by allowing Christ to take hold of him.  The beginning attempts of "winning his wife" back were fruitless because his heart was still the same.

Key 2:  You can only change yourself, NO ONE else! ---- isn't that the truth!  Anyone that has been married any amount of years should already know that changing your spouse is pretty much impossible.  I think finally learning THAT truth is what transformed my own marriage.  I can't change the things I don't like about Kevin or the things that drive me crazy.  My responsibility is to control how I react.  I can lovingly influence him by my actions, but that change comes from him.  It's also true to the opposite!  Our prayer should never be "change my spouse".  It should always be "change me".   I should start the day praying "God, give my husband a new wife and let it be me!".  The most remarkable statement he made during this part is how he talked about change comes from God because HE RESERVES THAT PRIVILEGE!  Change will come when you are welcoming the Holy Spirit to guide you together.  He WILL bring about the change needed because He is directing both of your hearts closer together.  I think this is what WE are currently experiencing and WHY our own marriage is become stronger every single day!

Key 3:  You ABSOLUTELY must have a plan to wage war against sin!!!!  This is the one that I think spoke to me the most.  I "knew" the other two because we had learned those the hard way.  It was just encouraging to hear them and inspire us to keep at it.  Number 3 was "new".  Granted, I know we have to flee from sin and guard our hearts and marriage.  I just had never thought about having an actual plan.  That is something I hope that Kevin and I are able to think about and come up with.  Sin is abundant and it has ONE result.  Destruction.  If we don't wage literal war against it, it WILL destroy our marriages and our families. 

The first thing that must happen is that we have to rid evil in our own hearts FIRST or it will destroy what is precious to us.  We are blocking the blessings of God when we allow our hearts to be full of sin.   First: confess.  Second: Identify the sin and wage war against it.  Pray for God to reveal stumbling blocks and then allow Him to rid it in your life.  Third:  Replace that "bad" with good!  Transfer your desires to something wonderful and beautiful .  FUEL THAT FIRE so that is consumes everything else.  Caleb's battle was with pornography in Fireproof.  Once his heart had been changed HE WAS STILL tempted!  Temptation doesn't go away, no matter what your sin is.  He had to physically remove that temptation and replace it with something beautiful.  He literally destroyed the computer that was the source of his addiction and put in it's place gorgeous flowers to remind him that his wife mattered to him more.  He sought out an accountability partner to make sure he stayed on track. 

It all comes down to the fact that an excellent marriage is determined by YOUR OWN HEART, not by what your spouse does or doesn't do for you.  I think marriage is about loving Christ so much that it flows through you, TEACHING you how to truly love and be loved by another person.  Marriage is about two becoming one.  God designed it that way.  IF you are focusing so greatly on being more Christ-like, then it will naturally spill over into your marriage.  It will become less about meeting YOUR needs, but more about meeting the needs of your SPOUSE.  The amazing thing that happens is that in that process you end up drawing so close together that your own needs consequently get met.  It's amazing like that.  That is when it becomes of God's design.  That's when it moves to extraordinary!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Weeks in Review....a bit closer to HIS plans.

Hard to believe that for someone who LOVES blogging so much that it has been over two weeks again since I've let the words flow!  Time has had a way of just slipping past us in the last several weeks.  Week(s) in review:
  • Mother's Day came and went.  Though I have such mixed feelings about this particular holiday (previous post), I loved celebrating it with my three amazing gifts from God and my priceless husband.  They truly made it a day to remember.  Actually, they made the entire weekend special. 
  • Our daughter turned 14 and my heart skipped a few beats.  I could write about all the things she is and all the things she is becoming, but I would become a basket case.  Her heart for serving is so great and the love of Christ just emanates from her.  She is a treasure!
  • Had the pleasure of my husband planning and surprising me with a date night.  We are being blessed with more and more snippets of time to just be a couple and make our marriage thrive beyond our greatest expectations, but I tend to typically have to plan those times.  It was priceless to have him take the lead on that, arrange childcare, and completely take me by surprise.  It showed me how much HE values that time together and also how he has my best interest at heart.  He knew I was struggling with some issues that were weighing heavily on me and that the best thing for me was to just step away with him for a couple of hours.  Uninterrupted conversation with him tends to just soothe so many hurts and brings such a focus and calm to handling so many situations.
  • Went home for the first time without Dad being there.  This "first" had me physically sick for weeks just trying to emotionally process so much of that.  Thanks to some amazing, encouraging friends that spent time covering me in prayer and a supportive husband, that "first" came and went with my sanity still intact.  It was difficult to say the least, but I found the same calm that the Holy Spirit provided through those other impossible moments flooding my heart again.  Getting to spend time with Teresa and focus on THAT crucial relationship was a soothing balm to my heart. 
  • Our trip home also allowed us the great joy of seeing Kevin's younger adult son, wife, and their precious daughters.   Finally getting to TOUCH our granddaughters instead of just oooohhhh-ing and ahhhh-ing through pictures was amazing.  It was fantastic to see their little family together!  We love them so dearly despite how far the distance is between us physically.  Of course, getting to see other family was great as well. 
  • We saw the "date" come and go of the timing that our child would have been born had God not had other plans in regards to our pregnancy not being able to progress past the beginning weeks.  My arms were empty on that day, but my heart is still full knowing that God has a different plan and I just have to be confident to wait on His reasons/timing/direction. 
  • I finally did something that shocked those around me.  Something I should have been brave enough to do years ago.  I went cold turkey and quit drinking sodas of ALL types-----my addiction to diet coke had to go!  Tomorrow marks 4 FULL weeks with nothing except water and I will NEVER go back.  I may have one on a rare occasion, but for now I don't know when that will be.  For the first time in 13 years, I have had full use of my hands and wrists without any pain.  There have been countless other benefits (weight loss has unfortunately not made that list yet!), but the biggest has been the "victory".  For someone who has planned her entire day around getting her "polar pops" and has literally been as addicted as people are to cigarettes, it was HUGE to have broken free.  God had been laying it on my heart for a VERY long time.  I NEEDED to be turning to HIM FIRST----and not my other cravings.  Though it was a VERY big physical issue, it was greatly an issue of surrendering another part of me to HIM!  Stepping from disobedience into obedience of His leading has been remarkable.  I originally intended to reduce to one a day, but after that first day I knew that it was more about my "will" and doing what God was directing. 
  • Our 9th year of homeschooling is beginning to rapidly wind down.  I don't have our "end" date set because we have so many things going on right now that are requiring flexibility.  At last count, we had dropped down to less than 30 total lessons to finish middle school.  To know that next year we will be entering Kindergarten AND High School makes this mom's heart ache a bit!  Though I plan to do some specific educational enrichment throughout the summer and will continue Bradlee's workboxes more days than not, the bulk is about to wrap up!  Yippee!!!! 
  • I found a new passion and it is growing EVERY day.  I finally pulled out the sewing machine and fought my fears and feeling of intimidation.  I discovered that I have a bit more of Teresa in me than I originally thought.  I love it!  Most specifically right now, I'm loving how God is able to use that "me" time to do something for someone else.  My heart hurts so often to know that our dream of adopting can't happen because of my medical exclusion.  I ache for the orphan.  I can't change their lives the way I envisioned.  However, my new passion is allowing me to STILL do something.  I'm currently sewing dresses for girls in Ghana.  "My" original plan was to hopefully make 2-3.  God ripped that plan apart and put it on a grander scale!  I don't know the final count or what to expect, but it looks like when our friends leave for their mission trip I will have somewhere near 50 to send.  To me it has been less about the actual sewing (after all, my stitch work leaves MUCH room for improvement) and more about the connection I feel when I'm doing it.  Nothing heals a breaking heart more than looking outside of yourself. Change of focus=healing heart!  I also love that part of the process is connecting me to the past.  Many of the dresses have been pieced together from fabric that has been saved for years.  Lace from dresses Kevin's mother made Adriana.  Lace and fabric that was used to make dresses for ME through MANY different life points.  Though many of them have been made of materials recently purchased, it is those that have another connection that mean the most. 
  • Took some dings to the heart with some difficult situations we are facing, but I'm choosing to believe that God is in control.  Many days I throw my hands up and literally want to scream at God and tell him to STOP trusting us with more difficulty.  I don't believe my heart can handle much more.  Then He reveals himself and reminds me of HIS power!  He DEFINITELY has proven that His timing is perfect even when it doesn't feel that way.  The reminder came from a completely unrelated situation, but it still spoke to my heart.  WAIT and BELIEVE!!!!  Our reminder came in the form of an innocent baby that needed a home and in a set of circumstances that could ONLY HAVE BEEN ORDAINED BY GOD.   Witnessing a dear friend of ours become LITERALLY an instant Mom with ZERO time to prepare and how God has made EVERYTHING unfold-----priceless.  Faith restored!  It's unfathomable to wonder why we still tend to doubt God because He constantly proves His power!
  • Celebrated the upcoming arrival of another precious child that will also change the world.  We get more excited to see her every single day.  Watching the wonder and joy that radiates from her mommy's face as she waits has just touched me profoundly.  Knowing that her parents are entrusting her to us as her childcare provider is humbling and amazing.  God is changing me and molding me through this amazing gift. 
  • God also has been speaking to me about giving up another craving in some capacity.  Facebook.  Addict.  That's me.  It has been the most amazing gift of restoring priceless friendships, served as a ministry at many times, and has connected me to other Christian women and mothers in a great accountability mode.  It's kept our families connected to our children (at least to those who value that connection) and allowed us to connect to extended families.  I've grown incredibly close to family members that I would have never really known.  It's beyond amazing to have that connection.  Life has changed for the better.  On the flip side, it's caused great distress.  Constantly being connected, constantly being bombarded with friends that are turning their backs on God or living their lives with total disregard to His commands.  With my heart being so tender for children it has just become overwhelming with heartbreak and concern.  "That" personality trait is beneficial at times, but others it just breaks me too much.  So, to take our technology "curfew" to another level I have deleted almost 200 friends to simplify and "calm".  Though I know each and every one of them and they all have been part of my life, I needed to step back awhile.  In the past, my facebook page was open ANY time the computer was turned on.  Though I may have been working on something else, it was still open with it's automatic updates.  Now, I don't leave it open.  I am only "on" when I specifically sit down for that purpose.  It's working as a good compromise.  I'm still able to maintain my vital connections, but yet in a much more appropriate manner.  If God says "give up" more, then I will be willing to do so....but for now, I think we are both pleased and moving in the right direction.
  • 607 (our mid-week program at church) has come to an end for the semester.  We wrapped up the semester with a store night where the kids were able to spend their "bucks" earned from attendance and memory work.  I was so proud of them!  Our last night was spent with 3B---bikes, blades, and boards.  The parking lot became a madhouse of kids zooming & zipping all around us.  Between their joy and the popsicles dripping down their faces, it was such a fun night.  We will miss our kids over the summer (especially since we've spent 2 years with the same kids)----but come September we will be fired back up to spend time with them again!
  • PMO (Parent's Morning Out) also wrapped up this week and will start back again in September.  I treasure those 2.5 hours 3 times a month.  Spending that ME time was very awkward at first, but eventually it became a life line that made me a better mom.  It's a priceless treasure that I'm most grateful for.  No cost involved----volunteer hours "pay" for it.  Not only did I love MY time, I also LOVED my volunteer time.  Nothing EVER soothes my heart as much as holding and rocking a baby.  I definitely passed on that baby love to Adriana----Miss Baby Whisperer!  It has also been a great year for spiritual growth in our children.  It went FAR beyond babysitting services.  Bradlee gained so much Biblical knowledge this year that I was practically left speechless at times!
  • Made a made dash to the ER with a neighbor.  She showed up at our door not wanting to be alone because she wasn't feeling well.  Over the course of a few minutes, she wasn't herself in the least and was having pain in her left arm and shoulder.  Took off to take her to her doctor close-by and enroute they sent me to the ER. Bradlee and I spent the morning doing school work in the ER waiting room while the big kids did their's at home. Fortunately, God was with her and everything worked out for her. My heart aches for her because she is "alone" and God used that time to make me remember what it feels like to be alone and need help. On a side note, I now KNOW the fastest route to both hospitals should I ever need to make that trip again!!!!! We've lived here for almost 4 years and we've only made that trip once!
  • Kevin and I were blessed to attend a remarkable marriage seminar last night with Kirk Cameron (Mike from Growing Pains, Fireproof).  It was amazing!  I'm still soaking in so much we heard and I'm certain more blog posts will follow because what God said through Him was fantastic.  Kev & I have always wanted to spend time on these type events but money, time, child-care, responsibilities just never allowed it.  We are thankful that it ALL fell into place and allowed us this time together.  Our marriage has entered a stage that leaves us speechless.  We are more in love, more connected, and more on track than we have ever been.  Events like last night are icing on the cake.  They are giving us the tools that will help us take it to an even greater level.  We are beginning to see what a gift God has given us with a marriage centered in Him.  The treasure of beginning to walk deeper together along His plan is priceless.  We've seen the dark, broken days and are amazed of the beauty that comes from moving beyond surviving to thriving and growing together.  We have LISTS of issues to work through EVERY day, but knowing that progress is being made-----well, nothing else compares.  We are still waiting on Him to reveal His bigger plan and we do get side-tracked often, but to finally be feeling like it is in reach is extraordinary.  Our hearts are finally connecting and our ears are finally open enough to be faintly beginning to hear God speak to us.  Events like last night give us the tools and motivation to help make His voice stronger and louder.  Loud enough to be heard over the chaos that life can bring.  Thankful and humbled to be on this journey with someone that is greater than my best friend.  I also love the simple fact that we are laughing EVERY day together.  Two things tend to show me the "health" of our marriage----the laughter and the depth of the prayers together.  Sex/intimacy are important and can show "health" as well----but the real "thermometer" is the level of which we are enjoying being together JOYFULLY and the openness of prayers. 
So, there you have it....a few highlights of the last two weeks.  Every day has been about loving the ordinary and working towards the extraordinary.  I'm thankful for the constant reminders to soak it all in.  (Thanks Gretchen for that reminder of extraordinary ordinary every time I pull up your blog!!)  We are getting closer to God unleashing that BIG PLAN for us that we've felt him preparing us for.  We are spending our days living more on purpose and allowing our hearts to be shaped and molded more and more.  Our failures are great and seem to actually be greater every day as He continues to reveal what He is wanting for us, but as long as we are fighting for what matters.....IT WILL COME!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Chris Tomlin- I Lift My Hands- Lyrics

This song has become such a blessing & my focus.

Behind the Song- I Lift My Hands

This song gave me chills when I heard it the first time earlier this week and each subsequent time it has meant more. After listening to the "behind the song", it makes sense why it means so much. Beautiful!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Mother's Love: It isn't always Biological

I love being a mother.  There is ZERO doubt about it.  I don't have to sit on the fence and wonder if this is the right path for me or not.  Motherhood is my calling and I value that.  I admit there are days that I wonder if I'm cut out for it, if I'm taking the right approach to a certain issue, if I'm measuring up, and if I'm doing the best I can at the calling God has placed on my life.  Without a doubt, I have failures and regrets.  However, there is no doubt that there is nothing more amazing than to be entrusted with such a blessing.   In a nutshell, motherhood is my heart. It's who I am.

With that said, I HATE Mother's Day.  Yes, you read that right!  Don't get me wrong:  I treasure the little handmade gifts that my kids have made through the years.  I embrace the extra love they bestow on that Sunday and the preceding days as they think about the things they are making or doing.

It's all the other stuff I hate.  Just like you will hear me say about Valentine's Day, I think it does more harm than good for way too many people.  What about the ones who no longer have their mother?  It creates heartache.  What about those that want to be a mother, but God hasn't provided them with that blessing.  Their empty arms ache.  What about those who have been emotionally or physically abandoned? Or those that have suffered abuse? This "celebration" brings to the surface the feelings that abandonment bring and highlights it.  Why wasn't I good enough or why don't I deserve unconditional love?  Just the walk down the card aisle with all of the beautiful thank yous to mothers drives the knife deep.  I've talked to many people that talk about the excruciating pain that brings.   If you don't find yourself in one of these scenarios, it's a blessing to not take for granted. 

What about if you have a wonderful relationship with your mother, but yet you feel you don't measure up in your own walk with motherhood.  Mother's Day can be hard because you feel like you are failing and all you can see are the "super moms" that are getting it right.  (Which I can tell you, they are probably thinking the same thing.  They wish they could be more....this...that...or the other....)  Does a day of celebrating "you" make you feel uncomfortable?  A day that is supposed to encourage, ends up making you feel like you just don't get enough right.  What about the mother's with young children that don't have spouses that make sure the kids show their love and appreciation?  What about single mothers?  What about those families that really want to celebrate their mother, but don't have a penny to spare?  Sure, they can do their best to make something, but what they REALLY want to do is lavish her with gifts that she would love. 

Like I said earlier, I hate Mother's Day.  I love what it stands for and the role that it celebrates, but it just seems to cause so many people pain and I wish it weren't so.  I hate those days that are about celebrating something so beautiful (like love on Valentine's Day), but yet it just illuminates heartache.

With all of that said:

I am thankful beyond words for someone amazing in my life.
  • She gave up her "own" life for me in every way, though she didn't have to.  She chose to. 
  • She was there when the school bus ran every morning and afternoon.  She was there in the classroom for parties, field trips, parent/teacher conferences. She was there at the kitchen table when homework needed to be done & tests needed to be studied for.
  • She was there when life had treated me harshly.  She was there to share the joys.  She was there for everything "ordinary" in between.
  • She taught me so many values, NOT be speaking, but by doing.
  • She embodies the beauty inside and out of the Proverbs 31 woman.
  • She taught me that if you want to help someone, YOU do don't wait for someone else to come in and help.  Volunteering, serving, and giving to others was a "natural" way of life. 
  • She taught me the invaluable skill of making ends meet in hard times.  You want something you can't afford?  You save in unique ways to pay for it and then you treasure it.  That might mean you save aluminum cans to sell, use your own skills to make a bit of money at a time, save every penny or nickel you find in the couch or in the car.  It might mean that you shop for bargains and don't buy everything new.  It might have meant years ago saving green stamps from the grocery store to buy that prized item.  It even means that you most likely don't buy things for yourself because you would rather spent it on someone you love.  Invaluable skills!
  • She taught me that love is unconditional.  You don't walk away from someone when times are difficult.  Your happiness isn't always the top priority.
  • She didn't tell me that church was important and then send me out the door with a neighbor or on the church van.  She was there almost every minute. 
  • She taught me the value of family meals.
  • She taught me almost every homemaking skill I know.  Even if I didn't pay attention years ago, she set in place the foundation and the desire.
  • She taught me that life isn't always fair, but God is faithful and trust-worthy.  Oh my, is she EVER teaching that only a daily basis these days!
  • She taught me the value of modesty, respect of authority, and the importance of taming the tongue.  It wasn't acceptable to even use "mild" words in her home.  She taught me the importance of watching, listening to, and reading appropriate things.  Alcohol was never allowed in our home. 
  • She filled our home in every nook and corner with her talents.  Her creativity is unparalleled.  Her talents are numerous.
  • She took great pride in each of us looking the best we could with what we had.  That meant IRONING everything (have I ever mentioned I don't have that same skill!!!), SEWING and making everything possible and doing it AMAZINGLY.  You especially took care of everything you owned.
  • She taught me the love of music.  She sat through countless piano lessons, band practices, competitions, chorus concerts, etc.... How excruciating that must have been to someone that God blessed with an amazing ear for music and a beautiful voice!  She taught me each and every little Sunday school song possible and even to this day I can't count them all!
  • She taught me that above all else, nothing in life matters more than loving and serving God. 
Though that list could continue on indefinitely, these are the ones that pop to mind first.  She taught me almost everything I would truly ever need to know about being a mother and embracing that role in my life. 

What is amazing is that this woman didn't give birth to me, but loves me just as much as I love my own children.  That's the true beauty of this woman.  She is mother and more!  She is what love is about.  She always made sure that I knew that even though I didn't grow in her womb, that I grew in her heart.  Truth of the matter is that as I grew in her heart, she grew in mine!  Nothing can ever replace that kind of love!  How thankful I am for someone like her.  I strive everyday to provide my kids with the same kind of memories, unconditional love, and love for Christ that she instilled in me!  The beauty of this woman is that she did it all by CHOICE! THAT is love.  That is the sacrificial love of motherhood.  That is the way that Christ loves each of us. 


Where have you been?  I've had a couple of people want to know why I fell off the edge of blogging world.  The better question to ask would be, where did the time go?  I've sat down to write many times, but it just hasn't happened.  Thoughts haven't made it to the keyboard.   Demands of life have been too many and time too short.  I've stuck fairly closely to our "technology curfew" and have shut the computer off at night (which is when I normally did most of my blogging!).  Tonight I'm cheating.....but no matter what I try sleep isn't coming otherwise!

Unsettled.  I think that is the perfect word to describe me these days.  I'm not unhappy.  I'm not depressed.  I'm getting more than normal  done at home (most days!).  I've accomplished several tasks that I thought virtually impossible.  I've even given up my gallon of soda a day habit (LITERALLY!....but I'll save that story for another post!)  Yet, I'm unsettled. 

Yes, I know it's greatly part of the journey of grief.  I also realize that some of the situations we are facing is causing great turmoil, scars, and is emotionally draining.  That creates a feeling of being unsettled.  Yet, it's more than that.

I'm hungry.  I'm thirsty.  Yet, not in the traditional sense of the words.  I'm hungry and thirsty for the fire and passion that was building in me.  I was ready to explode and yet I've crashed.  Don't get me wrong:  I've not walked away from God in the least.  It's just that the hunger and thirst isn't getting satisfied.  I have this dissatisfaction with so much that I'm doing.  It isn't enough.  God has more for me, but yet I don't know what it is.  He has a very specific plan for what He wants out of me and how he wants to use me, but I just can't find the clarity to find what that THING is.  He has a direction for our family, a calling for us, but I can't calm the "noise" to hear what it is. 

We have already been struggling with this issue so greatly, but this week at church it REALLY brought it into focus much more.  We have started a series called "Cannonball" and it's about jumping in with both feet.  We are ready to jump, but yet we don't know what that "jump" is.  We are truly seeking God about what our act of faith is, our purpose, but yet we've not been given the answer.  We're frustrated.  Specifically, I'm frustrated. 

For many years, we thought that our "cannonball" was adoption.  My arms ache for another child and my heart is big enough to love another child....specifically an orphan.  We talked about that path even before marriage.  So many of our friends have followed God's leading and have taken that leap of faith.  Their lives are being blessed by their obedience.  My heart wants to take that leap.  My arms ache for that leap.  Financially it seems impossible, but God has provided for so many others, surely He would make the provision for us.  However, it's not meant to be.   Medically I'm excluded.  That can't be changed or worked around. 

Still seeking.  Still waiting.  Still searching for answers.  What is it that God wants US to do?  Where are we to be His hands and feet?  What specific calling has he given us?  Before I was born, what plan did He already have in place for ME?  Big questions.  Something we've been asking for quite a long time.  We are ready for the answer.   We will continue to wait, but while I wait I admit...I'm unsettled. 

Just tonight I read a reminder that being emotional and unsettled is not a bad thing.  I've been trying to push that unsettled feeling away and have fought with it daily over the last several weeks most especially.  Tonight I was reminded that maybe I need to stop fighting that feeling and just embrace it. 

Even Jesus was described as emotionally distressed (unsettled).  He was "deeply troubled" and "distressed" (Mark 14, John 12, John 13).  As what I read tonight said, if Jesus felt those emotions so deeply than surely it's unrealistic for me to think that I should be able to sail through life without feeling that negativity as well.  As the author pointed out, it's what I choose to do with the emotions that matter.  "The problem isn't my emotions, it's my reaction to them!  The trouble comes when I give them free reign in my heart and mind.  That's when I become unstable.  That's when I lose sight of God.  That's when I say or do things I regret."

Oh boy---that describes me the last few weeks.  Unstable.  Hard to keep myself connected to God.  Saying and doing things I regret.  Yes, that's me.  Yes, that's the spot I've found myself in.  I've allowed my unsettled, distressed feelings do JUST what Satan wants them to do.  He is all about creating division between myself and God, between myself and others, and just within myself.  My emotions, though very valid and real, even justified...have taken root and overtaken.  Instead of focusing on the peace that can transcend all understanding, I've focused on the emotions of the moment.  I've forgotten to tap into the incredible strength that can come when I'm anxious, despite my volatile emotions.  I've lost sight of allowing His spirit to flow through me by letting my emotions rule me. 

Perhaps, being unsettled is where I need to be.  I need to be unsettled to be reminded of the source of peace.  I need to be unsettled to reminded of how weak I am and how strong He is.  I need to be unsettled while searching for purpose and my "cannonball" so that I KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that I am on the right track when the peace comes with the answer.  I need to be unsettled to be reminded of how much I need to be connected to other people and how being accountable to someone else keeps us all on the right path.  I need to be unsettled to make sure that I'm operating in His spirit and NOT my flesh.  Perhaps, being unsettled is not a bad place to be in for now.