Happy Birthday!

In a few minutes, on November 9, according to some statistics, I will be a year older.

The completion of another trip around the sun does not really “complete” anything. There is not even a slow down in the universe to mark any kind of anniversary of my birth.

I keep moving as does everyone else. And the world does not stop for any event of my life.

When I thought the disasters of the past were so profound that the world would end, it didn’t.

When life was so beautiful, I wanted to stop and hold on to those moments forever, the world kept spinning.

On the day of my death, the world will not end for me or anyone else. The journey will continue.

So if the universe seems not to notice us, is there any point in trying to get someone to celebrate the anniversary of our birth?

It used to be I thought my birthday should be a day when I was the center of attention. It didn’t always work that way. And then I felt disappointed.

After a few more trips around the sun, I learned that I am not the one to be adored, even if on only one day a year. The one to be adored is God, My Creator.

A Birthday is an opportunity to praise God for giving me this Life and for letting me live it with Him.

While the universe seems not to notice, my Creator sees and cares about every frame of my life. I am a part of His Plan!

God chose to create me and bring me into this world at a specific time and place. Before I was born, He knew what He was creating me to do.

He did not send me here alone. He chose to be with me for every second of my life.

He forgives my missteps over and over again. He lifts me out of the mud, cleans me up and lets me dance with Him on the heights.

He shows me the wonders of the world. He gives me His Joy in knowing I am a part of His Creation.

He tells me He knows The Plans He has for me. He promises they are Good Plans.

I am awed and amazed at all the ways He expresses His Love to me and through me.

God did not ordain one day for me to celebrate myself. He ordained every day to be a day of celebration of Life with Him. Every day He gives is a birth-day with Him.

And that means today is your birthday too! I invite you to celebrate our life together with Him by reading His Birth-day greetings from His Word.

This is the day the Lord has made.
Let’s rejoice and be glad today!
Psalm 118:24

(Join with David the Psalmist in considering God’s Creation of you!)

You alone created my inner being.
You knitted me together inside my mother.

I will give thanks to You because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your Works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this.

My bones were not hidden from You when I was being made in secret, when I was being skillfully woven in an underground workshop.

Your eyes saw me when I was still an unborn child. Every day of my life was recorded in Your Book before one of them had taken place.

How precious are Your Thoughts concerning me, O God!

How vast in number they are!
If I try to count them, there would be more of them than there are grains of sand.
            
When I wake up, I am still with You.
Psalm 139:13-18

“I know The Plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord. “They are Plans for peace and not disaster, Plans to give you a future filled with hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11

 God has made us what we are. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that He has prepared for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10-11

The Lord says, “I will instruct you.
I will teach you the way that you should go. I will advise you as My Eyes watch over you.”
Psalm 32:8

Remember that I am always with you until the end of time.
Matthew 28:20

 

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Old Love versus Young Love

I continue to reflect on our 40 year marriage.

Which do you think is better — young love or old love?

When we were young, what we thought was Love was really a combination of lust and a desire for approval.

We tried to create each other in our image. We wanted the other to be more like us … think like us … act like us.

We had not yet learned what it means to be uniquely created in God’s Image.

We were like the tides, bringing both trash and treasures from the deep parts of us.

It took awhile to learn what were the true treasures to keep and what we should release back into the deep.

We discovered an intimacy that allowed us to love deeper than we ever thought possible.

Knowing each other so well also allowed us to hurt each other more deeply than anyone else could.

But within the pain was a longing to persevere for the joy of something we knew was good.

We learned the beauty of touch. We recognize each other’s shape and form in the dark.

We know the comforting hand squeeze that speaks volumes of “I’m here. I care. I love you. I’ll never leave you.”

We’ve seen each other transform physically. We have been all sizes and shapes. Our hair has been different colors and textures. We have developed the lines on our faces that say, “We’ve lived.”

We shared the wonder of waiting together for ten (Yes TEN) months to meet our child. We have shared the joy of seeing her grow through all stages into an amazing young woman.

We have been at each other’s side through illnesses, injuries and surgeries. We have shared the powerlessness of not being able to relieve each other’s pain.

We have learned we are not God. He is. We have learned how to pray for each other and release our individual and joint lives to Him.

We have searched together for the meaning of life and our place in it. We have experienced the joy of discovering we are two bonded by God into one, for His Purposes.

We have learned about death and sad goodbyes. We were witnesses to our parents’ declarations of love to each other in their old age.

We stood together at the graves of all four of our parents. We walked away, hand in hand, knowing the day would likely come when one of us would walk away alone.

We have a history. What we thought was our life at the time we were living it was only a season.

Now in our old age, God has woven all those seasons together into a warm blanket of memories for us.

We are blessed we can still remember. We can start many stories with “remember when” and enjoy our life events all over again.

We do not know how long God will assign us to continue to serve Him together as an earth couple. But we know this.

Old Love is far better and richer and deeper than young love. And God’s Love revealed through us is a continuing Gift. We praise Him and thank Him every day.

Take a few minutes and enjoy Alan Jackson’s song, “Remember When.”

 

 

 

 

 

If You Had Only Known …

Why are there senseless killings in the world? In fact, is there any killing that is not senseless?

God created every person on earth. Every one of us is precious to Him, and I believe it grieves His Heart to see anyone attempt to eliminate the other by harming them.

When violence happens, it often makes us feel powerless. It may make us angry. We may be tempted to respond with violence. Wars have been started and perpetuated by such thinking.

When I hear of violence, I feel sad. I wonder what happened that a person could become so lost … so deceived … that they saw God’s Creations as the enemy.

Jesus answered that long ago.

“The time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.

They will do such things because they have not known The Father or Me.”
John 16:1-3

They did not know God. They did not know Jesus. They could not hear The Holy Spirit because they did not know Him.

And because they did not know The Blessed Trinity, they did not know what they were doing.

When Jesus was being crucified, He asked His Father to forgive those who were attempting to kill Him. He added,

“For they do not know what they are doing.”
Luke 23:34

Did they not know they were driving the nails? Yes, they knew. But they did not know how wrong it was.

What can we do in the face of violence?

We can pray for the victims.  Pray that they be healed.  Pray that they be comforted.  Pray that they be able to forgive.

We can feel great sadness for the perpetrators, and forgive them, as Jesus Himself showed us.

We can realize that all around the world, satan is busy at this moment recruiting for his army. His goal is to capture his victims and turn them into human killing machines.

And it is key to his mission that they never know their Creator.

How can we defeat satan and his army? By following the Commands of Jesus.

“A New Command I give you: Love one another.

As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

By this everyone will know that you are My Disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34-35

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
Luke 6:27-28

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
Luke 6:36

Note: He did not say, “Treat them the way they treat you.” He said to love like He loves. He said to be merciful, as God is merciful.

But Jesus was not finished in giving His Commands. He added,

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
Luke 6:37

And having done those things, what else can we do?

We can dedicate ourselves to The Mission that everyone know God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit.

The knowing begins with our desiring to know The One Who has created us and placed us on earth to live together in harmony.

And out of that desire will come a desire that all our brothers and sisters know Him too.

When we all know Him, then Jesus’ Prayer will be fulfilled. God’s Kingdom will come on earth!

God gave me a song about knowing Him. It is a part of the first video in the series, “Knowing The One.”

I invite you to watch and share it with others.

 

 

How To Pray in Dark Times

I watch the news and I try to pray.

I give up.

It seems the cries of anguish are rising from throughout the earth.

I asked, “What can I pray that would even touch this?” He answered.

“Pray along these lines:

Our Father in heaven, we honor Your Holy Name.

We ask that Your Kingdom will come now.

May Your Will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven.

Give us our food again today, as usual.

And forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.

Don’t bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One.

For Yours is The Kingdom and The Power and The Glory forever, Amen.”
Matthew 6:9-13

 

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Passion!

Every marriage needs a healthy dose of passion. But it matters where the passion comes from and where it goes.

In our youth, we had passion. We got to know each other by giving and receiving pleasure physically.

But being one physically proved to be easier than being one emotionally or spiritually.

As we continued in marriage, we came to know another passion. We both strongly believed what we believed. And our passionate beliefs often spilled over into passionate anger.

We argued. We yelled at each other. We slammed doors. We desperately tried not to lose ourselves as an individual while becoming a couple.

That passion became a familiar marital dance of begging to be closer while, at the same time, pushing each other away.

As our marriage progressed, we were given the joy of a new passion that surpassed anything we had ever experienced before. We became parents!

Our love that had been so turned inward turned outward. We were totally awed by God’s Creation — our daughter. Our new passion became to raise her in love.

For many years we were focused on our jobs and child rearing. And then came the next lesson in passion.

We lost it. The child grew up. The jobs no longer challenged us. And we had become strangers to each other.

We had looked outward for so long, we had stopped looking at each other anymore.

Secretly we wondered what had happened to the exciting people we had married. Wasn’t our spouse supposed to bring the passion?

And so came what could be the most dangerous years for a marriage. As our desire for something new and exciting escalated, we looked around.

We weren’t looking to leave each other. There were some comfortable, predictable parts of the marriage we wanted to keep.

We were just looking for something to fill in the blanks. Many couples reach this lull in their marriage.

They are never “technically unfaithful.” They simply let their minds and emotions wander. They begin to spend more time with friends, “just talking.”

They start to expand their searches on their computers to alternate worlds where they can imagine passion.

While they would call themselves faithful, they are not. Jesus spoke clearly about this.

“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Matthew 5:28

When these times of boredom followed by temptation come, change your focus. God knows your desires. He knows how to fulfill them in Ways far more than you can imagine.

What if you could have the best of your spouse of the past mixed in with new exciting things of the present? You can.

Here is a revelation. Your spouse is not the same person you married. Neither are you. As you went through the seasons of Life, you both changed.

When marriages hit a lull, it is time to consider how each of you has changed and introduce your present day selves to each other.

There are endless things to discover if you are willing to give up any preconceived notions about who you are and who your spouse is.

Then comes the really important question. Why did God create you as a couple? What does He want you to do now as The One He has created you to be?

The Answer for us did not come overnight. But when it did come, God lit His Fire in us with a Passion that has exceeded anything we had ever known.

We fell in Love with God! And we discovered with Joy that being in Love with God meant we were right in the center of a Community of God.

My husband and I began to share every minute Life with God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit. And They put us to work.

As They taught us, we taught others.

We taught nursing together for eight years.

We co-led several different Sunday School classes.

We wrote two books together and are working on a third.

We have written, produced and delivered 14 episodes of a Christian teaching series on You Tube and God Tube.

We are passionately in Love with our Creator. We are awed by how He brings together the different talents He has given each of us.

And each time a new project is complete, we know we could not have done it individually or even as a couple. It was God with us, God in us, God before us, God behind us, and over and under us.

If you want passion in your life and in your marriage, trust God to bring it. And then get ready for some major fireworks!

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Fair Fight

Sometimes it seems God refines us in His Furnace by turning up the heat in our relationships. We argue. We thresh out what we believe as a couple by pushing back against each other.

My husband and I have always been passionate about our beliefs. Rough translation: both of us were sure we were right and our mission was to convince the other how wrong they were.

Some couples keep their disagreements private. My parents occasionally had a disagreement, but I never really heard them argue. When my father was 96 years old, I mentioned that I did not recall them arguing. I asked him if they ever did.

He chuckled.

“Oh yes,” he said. “We didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things, but we worked it out.”

I asked him how they did it.

“Well,” he said, “when we got mad, I’d walk uptown to the post office and then come back. Then we’d try again. I was pretty tired by then, and I didn’t want to argue so much.”

I asked him if it happened very often. This time he frankly laughed.

He then said, “How do you think I got to 96? It was all that exercise!”

People don’t always agree. It is ok to have differences of opinions.

Rarely is someone completely right and someone completely wrong.

There is only one Judge of “rightness” and “wrongness.” That is God. Rather than trying to get our spouse to agree with us, we need to see what God says and both agree with Him!

Here are some tips for having a “fair fight” with your spouse.

No physical contact. When the adrenaline starts flowing, it’s too easy to want to physically subdue the one you suddenly see as your opponent. Don’t be tempted.

If you must have physical contact with something, be safe and respectful of others’ belongings. I.E. a slammed door is much better than taking a hammer to the irreplaceable vase she inherited from her grandmother.

No references to physical appearance. The wounding of negative words about a person’s appearance can last long after the argument has resolved.

Stick to the subject you disagree on. Stay in the present. This is not the time to try to get history to support your cause. “This is just like that thing you did in 1987 and that other thing you did in 1992, etc, etc.”

Stay away from trapping your spouse into a negative prison. When you say, “You ALWAYS do something or you NEVER do something,” you are making it difficult for your spouse to ever change. And you will strengthen your belief that what you are saying is true.
What is The Truth? “Always” and “never” almost “never” happen.

Forgive as God forgives. Hebrews 8:12 records God’s Way of forgiving.

“I will forgive their wickedness and I will remember their sin no more.”

What if we forgave that way? If we could, then each time our spouse did something that offended us, it would be like the first time they ever did it.

If we are not at the level of forgiving and forgetting, then at least we can agree not to bring up past “sins” in the present discussion.

Next tip: Don’t use the Bible or God to prove your point. Certainly you should speak what God guides you to speak, but don’t use Him to proof text you.

Nothing worse than two Christians trying (figuratively speaking) to hit each other with their Bibles! Better to call a “time out” and each of you go to your respective corners and pray. Get the words straight from God.

Now that we’ve taken some of the most commonly used fighting tactics off the table, what’s left?

You can still passionately present your views. You can say what you think, why you think it, and why you disagree with your spouse’s view.

But what if neither of you is budging? Some things cannot be resolved, but there can be compromises that you can both “live with.” Sometimes being closer to the middle results in one of you moving a little closer to the other view.

Sometimes you can surrender a point or two, just because you realize how important it is to your spouse. If he insists on using a certain fork, you may never understand the reason, but you can understand that it’s important to him.

What if what is at stake is so important, you simply cannot change your view? Stand your ground. Agree to stop arguing for now. Agree to pray about it together. When you pray, pray only that God reveal to each of you what His Will is.

Together, agree with Jesus. Read aloud together, “Not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39)

Have my husband and I perfected the “fair fight” yet? Not so much. But we’re better at it than we were 40 years ago!

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Close? Not Really …

Marriage gives two people an opportunity for intimacy, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Intimacy requires trust. When we become intimate with someone, we remove layers that separate us.

We invite each other into a sacred space where only we and The Blessed Trinity live. We confide in each other. We show the pain, the fear, the anger behind the public smiles. We dare to profess Love without fear of rejection.

The heart of intimacy is Trust. We trust each other to hold in confidence what we entrust to them. We trust them to receive us as we really are without judging us.

At the base of Trust is Truth. Marriages cannot stand on a shaky foundation of lies.

Lies can begin with a simple withholding of The Truth. “What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.”

Lies can progress to an active hiding of The Truth to the point of where you yourself cannot find The Truth anymore. You speak to your spouse and others in regular lies, designed to keep down the hassles that would come if you told the Whole Truth.

But it gets tiring to remember what you said and what you didn’t say. So you withdraw. You become “busy.” You’re not in each other’s space as much.

The door to intimacy slowly closes, with one of you on one side and one of you on the other. But you are lonely. You desire connection with someone.

You find a sympathetic friend. It’s no big deal, you think. Just getting some things off your chest. But without knowing it, you are opening a door to intimacy … trust … with someone else.

Is there a road back or is it possible to stay on the right road to begin with?

Yes. Truth. Be sure to get this part. Truth is not collecting all your dirty laundry and dumping it out at your beloved’s feet.

Truth is not explaining to your beloved how they failed you or you failed them. Truth can be simple.

The first conversation is between you and God. He was part of The Circle of Trust you left. Restoring intimacy begins with restoring intimacy with Him.

Pray this simple prayer as David did.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Psalm 139:23-24

Confess and repent of anything you have done that put distance between you and God or you and your beloved.

What if it’s not you who broke trust? What if it is your spouse? The Truth is that no matter who started it, if you have lost intimacy, it is a two person problem.

So instead of deciding whose fault it is, or how to fairly divide out the blame, let God handle things.

Be brave enough to ask God, “What is The Truth about me? What is The Truth about Your beloved and my beloved? We both love him/her.

“What is The Truth about us? What do we do now?”

Then it is time to get your best prayer partner to join you. If you are thinking, “I honestly don’t know where to start with him/her,” try this.

“I love you. I miss being close. Can we start fresh and try again? Can we pray together and ask God how to begin again?”

Will the violins begin to play in the background and your beloved run to you with open arms? Not always. If intimacy has been lost, it may take it awhile to get it back.

But you can stand firm, praying the same prayer every day, confessing, repenting, allowing God to make you into the person He designed for this marriage.

And don’t look over His Shoulder while He works on your beloved. Trust Him! He knows what He is doing!

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Words Matter!

Words matter. Physical abuse is never acceptable. Neither is verbal abuse that seeks to tear down another person.

My husband and I have shared many angry words in our passionately making a point, but one verbal weapon that is off limits is anything that cuts at the essence of how God made us.

That means, no slurs about our physical makeup. Example: “You’re so fat.” “Your face looks like it needs the potholes filled in.”

Physical appearance is forever changing. If you or your spouse value your outsides more than your insides, that puts a level of insecurity into the relationship right from the beginning.

Tender Words lovingly hold a marriage together. My father always referred to my mother as his “precious wife.” She was reassured regularly that no matter what was going on, she was still precious to him.

My father in law always addressed my mother in law as “beautiful.” I can still hear him saying, “Good morning, beautiful!”

My husband will comment on something as being pretty and then add, “but not as pretty as you.” All of this may sound mushy, but here are today’s Truths.

Words matter. You can build a person up or tear them down with words.

Never criticize a person’s physical appearance. You can make your point without resorting to “mud wrestling.”

Say the words that soothe and build up. Say the words that cause your spouse to walk a little taller and more confidently.

Say the words of encouragement to them directly, but also know the value of saying them publicly. You can do this as a statement of gratitude. “I am so thankful my husband cooks for me. He is a great cook!”

Last tip of the day. Keep up the words of encouragement as the years go by. It’s all too common to think that staying together for a long time speaks for itself. It doesn’t.

You need to say the words to your spouse and they to you. You both need to hear what you both say.

When you say positive things about your spouse, you realize again how special he or she is. When you hear the positive things he or she says about you, it is a reaffirming of your value to them.

And yes, it is important to be able to say with all sincerity, “I love you.” It is our daily recommitment to each other. Yesterday’s love was great, but when I say “I love you,” it means “I love you for who you are right now. We’re solid. We’re good. We’re committed.”

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Soulmates?

Is there such a thing as soulmates? Yes. They are selected by God and trained by Him.

Do we find our true soulmate the first time out? Sometimes. Sometimes not. Sometimes we learn from failed relationships and God gives us Mercy and Grace to try again.

Even when we make mistakes, God has The Plan for our lives and He works it out.

My husband reassured me that our meeting was not a random event, no matter how it looked at the time. It was meant to be.

I was ruminating over the challenging times I had experienced before him. I said, “But what if I had not had those times? I would have never come to this place and I never would have met you.”

He was quiet for a moment and then he said, “You would have met me, because wherever you were, I would have found you. We were meant to be together.”

My parents were married for 72 years. When my mother was near death, she took my father’s hands in hers and said with all the strength she could muster, “God made you for me and He made me for you.”

She was more sure than ever that Daddy was her soulmate. She was comforted in the certain knowledge that the Love they shared would go on forever.

Some are disturbed by Jesus’ Words that there will be no marriage in heaven. I think they need not worry.

There will only be one New Marriage there, and that is our total union with God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit. However what God has already joined together on earth, He will not separate in Heaven.

I look at married couples as two pieces of a gigantic puzzle that have already been joined on earth, but in heaven will fit into the larger completed puzzle of God’s Plan.

Truth: God has a Plan for each of us.

We need to wait upon The Lord and be sure we follow His Directions.

If we go the wrong way, He is still willing to lead us to The Right Way.

At just the right moment, He will connect us with the person of His Choosing. It may be a friendship or a lifetime marriage. The key is letting Him do the choosing for us and then gratefully receiving His Gift.

True Love goes on forever. We will never be separated from our true soulmate.

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Peace! Be Still!

Matthew 8:23-26

Then He got into the boat and His Disciples followed Him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

 

Many times we read the above passage to indicate that Jesus should come and calm every storm we have. We inadvertently get things out of order. While Jesus is the Master of all Creation, including the winds and waves, He chose to address His Disciples first, before addressing the winds and waves.

Jesus’ Desire for His Disciples and for us is True Peace, even in the midst of the storm. True Peace only comes when we desire to be with Jesus so much that we’d follow Him anywhere and trust Him to do anything He desires.

I wrote the following reflection in 2009.

 

The storm came so quickly …

I knew not what to do.

I screamed and cried, “Lord, help me!

These winds respond to You!”

 

But He just lay there sleeping.

He did not come to me.

“Lord, this boat is sinking.

Wake up and come and see!”

 

Then, between the winds, I heard

A Sound both sweet and low.

“Are You just snoring, Lord?

Get up here now and row!

 

I’m doing all the work here.

I’m really going down.

If you don’t save me soon,

I surely will just drown!”

 

And He said, “Peace, Peace be still.

Remember what to do.

Peace … Be still … Peace… be still.

You can surely make it through.”

 

“Be still?” to myself, I thought.

“Why, I have to bail and row!”

The Voice still urged me on.

“Remember what you know.”

 

“I know I can steer this boat.

It’s the wind that is to blame.”

He stood up and looked at me

And He called me by my name.

 

“Be still! Peace, be still!” He said.

It was soft, but a command.

At first I thought the winds had stopped,

But at last, I did understand.

 

The winds still blew. The waves were high.

My boat still pitched and rolled.

But inside me, the storm had passed,

As He brought peace unto my soul.

 

I thought He spoke just to the storm.

He surely could, you see.

But when He spoke “Peace, be still!”

He really spoke to me!

 

Storms may come and storms may go,

But He is here to stay.

We can cast our cares on Him

Both now and every day.

 

Whether sailing through skies of blue,

Or truly stuck in a jam,

Look on Him and just be still.

You will hear the great I AM!

 

Be still and know that I am God!

Psalm 46:10

 

You will keep in perfect peace

Him whose mind is steadfast,

Because he trusts in You.

Isaiah 26:3

 

Oh Lord, thank You that no storm, either within or without, can destroy Your Creation. Please keep reminding me that when I relax in Your Arms, I won’t drown. I’ll float!

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