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Tag Archives: Marriage

After the Steam

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I woke up earlier than usual this morning, determined to get a head start on the day. Didn’t expect to start my day with this. And what is it? At first glance, it is the obvious, a fogged up mirror where steam has revealed all the smudges and writings left by little hands writing messages after their shower on the perfect canvas they saw. But this foggy, smudged up mirror reminded me this morning of a verse from 1 Corinthians: “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

Sometimes our actions in “steamy” moments write messages that we don’t even realize we are writing. Our raw emotions cause us to act so far off from the person God created us and knows us to be. In those moments, this Christ-like image that we are supposed to have, it becomes foggy, messy… Marked. Those who are around us lose sight of Christ in us, and to get down to the heart of it, so do we. It’s hard to look yourself in the mirror after you know you acted out or spoke out in ways so far from who you truly are. You lose sight of yourself. You start to just see steam, messiness… Marks. But friend, this morning as I looked closely at that mirror I saw clearly one message circled by a little hand, “A+.” It had been written over yesterday’s message, “God’s love.”

(Those little hands had no idea how God was going to use these markings to touch my heart. Friends, you have no idea how the little things you do can touch a person’s heart.)

Looking in that mirror, I could not see myself. In the steam all I could see was God and “A+.” That is what God’s love does. When we smudge our image and the image of Christ, Jesus takes his hands, the same hands that were nailed to a cross for moments just like these… Jesus hears that heart cry for forgiveness, and he answers it. In our brokenness and in the aftermath of the steam, Jesus writes two words over top our image: “God’s love.” And then, incredibly, he writes “A+.” That is forgiveness.

One day we will see God in his fullness. We will see ourselves in our fullness. But for know I pray we can catch an image of how God sees us and others after the steamy moments have passed and our hearts are made clean by confession. And I share this picture because something tells me that image looks a whole lot like a fogged up, smudge up mirror with the words “God’s love” and “A+.”

Confess. Repent. Ask and receive forgiveness. See that you aren’t a smudged up, steamy mess. You are a son or daughter of God, loved, forgiven and atoned for. God’s love writes your grade. He gives to you the full credit that Jesus, the perfect canvas, earned. Child, your grade is his grade. And that grade, incredibly, after all the steam and smudges, was written as “A+.” May you know that today should you be struggling with the image in the mirror.

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Lay it Down

Remember Abraham? You know that old man you read about in the Bible who prayed for a son and finally got one so late in his life that it was laughable. Truly laughable. So laughable he named his son “Isaac” which means laughter. Do you remember how God tested him? How he told Abraham years later to walk that boy up a mountain and offer him as a sacrifice to God? Remember that? Remember thinking, “What kind of a God does that?” Maybe you didn’t think that but I will admit that I did. What kind of a God gives a gift only to take it away? That is what I sat there thinking… Until I read how in the moment of truth, when Abraham raised his arm with knife in hand, and Isaac lay there not trying to escape… In that incredibly intense moment the account goes that a hand reached down and stopped Abraham. A goat appeared in the thicket. Isaac was not to die their on that altar and Abraham had past the test.

Abraham had put down on the altar what had become the source of so much of his joy and so much of his hope. And sometimes I think God calls many of us to do just that. Sometimes I think God tests our hearts and sets us up to prove not so much to him, but to ourselves, that we are willing to lay it all down.

It may be your spouse, it may be your job, it may be your children, it may be your best friend, it may be your educational pursuit… Not sure what it is for you? Think of the one thing that you have put the most hope into, the one thing that is at the center of all your dreams… If it isn’t God… It is your Isaac. Are you willing to lay it down?

Isaac and Abraham lived on to live an incredibly blessed life. So blessed that later in the Bible you can read how God identified himself to Moses as, “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” Whoa. That same man and boy that went walking up that mountain, and willingly laid it all down- God says, “I am their God.” Laying it all down always leads to life- a life more abundant, a life more blessed.

May your feet be strengthened for whatever mountain you are walking up. May your faith be assured in the goodness of God. May he be your hope. May he be your joy. May he provide for your every need as you place your life in his hands.

 

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“It Doesn’t Feel like Christmas”

This Christmas I was not able to be with my hubby. It’s the first Christmas without him since we have been married. He had to be gone with work. I am with the family that God has given me through our marriage and I feel truly blessed for it. The kids and I are surrounded by their love. Christmas morning is only a few hours away, and I am trying not to think about it- how hubby isn’t here… Because it causes an ache in my heart. In fact, days leading up to our trip here I found myself saddened and thinking, “It doesn’t feel like Christmas.”

And I guess this is why I am sharing this, because I have a feeling I am not alone. If you are struggling with missing a loved one this Christmas, perhaps consider this:

When your heart aches for the presence of a loved one… That feels like Christmas. That is why God came in the flesh, because he knew his people longed for his presence, and incredibly he longed for our eternal presence as well. That ache. That void. That feeling like something is missing. That feels like Christmas… That feels like the very heartbeat of our Savior.

He knew we would be missing. He felt the void and he stepped into it, with tiny feet that would grow to be nailed to a cross. All for you. All for me. All for us. That is the message of Christmas.

For those who have never asked Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior, I pray you would do that today.

For those who did at some point in your life, but have turned away, I pray you would consider turning your heart back. His heart aches for you.

For those who are missing loved ones today, I pray your heart be overwhelmed by the depth of God’s love for you. When your heart aches for that missing person may you feel the ache that God felt when he considered an eternity without you.

May your sorrow not steal the joy of Christmas, but only cause you to fall more in love with Christ as you dwell on his love and the sorrow he endured for you.

Merry Christmas friends.

Be glad.

God came to be with us.

And he still is.

 

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To My Husband

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It was supposed to be a beach, sunset wedding… That is what we planned out over the course of six short days. And we weren’t even going to have a ceremony. We were going to go to the courthouse, get married and “make things right in the eyes of The Lord.”

That is what we were told we needed to do, by the mystical, “tennis court angel.” That is what I like to call her, even though you and I both know she wasn’t really an angel. And she wasn’t really “mystical.” She was just a woman who followed what she called the “leading of The Lord” late on a September night and found you exactly where The Lord told her you would be. She led you to salvation, and you then led me, but there was one thing she mentioned that we needed to do in order to “make things right”… Get married.

And it sounded crazy, stupid even… Believing some random woman was truly “Led by The Lord”…. “Having” to get married to “get right with The Lord”?

But we went with it. You followed the leading of a woman you truly believed was placed by God to intercept our world and forever change everything. You made the choice to follow Jesus and “make things right” as you felt you were being led to do. And I… Not so convinced… Simply made the choice to follow you. If you were going to follow Jesus, so was I. I would follow you anywhere… God knew that .

So we went to the courthouse on a Monday morning in order to “make things right,” if only on paper.

We walked out of that courthouse, ages nineteen and twenty-one, with a marriage license in hand. It was surreal to say the least.

And we would have gone to the court, but Tia and Tio said that wasn’t good enough and so we began planning a wedding.

Sunset. On the Beach. Hawaiian style. Standing room only… Lots of room.

We lined up a family friend who was a notary to perform our ceremony. We began thinking about flowers and favors… Little chocolates with our picture on it…. A cake with seashells, which we later learned was a bad idea.

(Mental Note: Real seashells on a cake is a bad idea. Also bad at the bottom of two betta bowls. Our poor wedding fish… Rough start but they survived! And so have we… Taking lots of “mental notes” along the way).

We planned for awesome homemade food cooked by your brother, a reception at Tio and Tia’s… It was all planned.

We invited every shocked friend we could think of and family. But being dead-set to get married soon, many, including our own parents were not able to attend.

We got as much marital counseling as we could in a week and a lot of prayer… God bless Pastor R and K-A for believing in us.

Come wedding day we ran late. Yes, late to our own wedding. Our “sunset” wedding became a pitch black wedding with only the headlights from family cars shedding light in the dark. And then half-way into the thing, it started. Little drops of rain. Wind getting stronger. After we both said “I do” it felt like the skies broke open and the wind came full blast. Sand whipped up from all around us. And our little flower girl, took off running. I can still remember the sight of her screaming and running off. Perhaps my favorite memory from that night.

It was so perfectly imperfect. So unpredicted. Planned and yet nothing really going according to plan. Light in the darkness. A name given. A name taken. Two vows made in the presence of heaven and earth. Holy and beautiful moments, and other moments that made us want to run…

Yeah- that is marriage in a nut shell.

But the secret to enduring the storms has remained the same, lock eyes, lock lips, and laugh in the rain.

And as I write this, it is 13 years. 13 years from that precious day when we “made things right”… So much has changed and yet so much has stayed the same.

To my husband- I love you. I thank God for you. Thank you for being “crazy” enough to step in faith, over and over and over again. Thank you for loving me, truth-be-told at times enduring me, with relentless, crazy, God-given, love. Thank you for locking your eyes on Jesus and leading me to do the same.

 

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“Can We Start Over?”

This week started with me in a nasty mood, subtle and yet constant attitudes toward my husband. I am not proud of that or saying it is ok… It wasn’t. But I wanted to share this because I wanted to share a decision that my husband and I made that greatly blessed our marriage: We decided to start over.

We didn’t hash out every offense and mistake. I didn’t even say “I’m sorry” again. Why? Because it was more than that. Yes, I was sorry and I needed forgiveness but there was more. I needed a “re-do,” a slate wiped clean, a chance to try again.

Ever need one of those?

So I asked my hubby if we could start over and incredibly he said yes and just like that- all was so well again. And it still is.

And I share all this because I realized just how much we all at times need a “start over” pass. And that is in fact what God did through us through Christ Jesus. He wiped the slate clean and gave us the freedom to start over, fully restored in the eyes of God- as if we had never sinned at all. With open arms and a smile, our Lord said, and continues to say “Yes, let’s start over.”

And so it is that we, too, also desperately need to be able to say that to each other- to offer that mercy, that love and grace.

Who might you need to start over with today? Maybe your spouse, your child, a friend, a family member, a co-worker, maybe even God?

May the same power that raised Jesus from the dead rise up in our marred hearts and relationships. Because all can be made wonderfully new.

 

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There is Hope

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So this? This is a plant in our yard- one that I haven’t really tended to in the two years we have lived in our home as it is kind of in a tucked away place along our side yard- somewhat out of view.

As I took on the task of tending the plant a few things became very obvious. First, the plant is beautiful. Perhaps even the most beautiful plant in our yard except for one major thing. It is wounded, horribly wounded.

As I took a close look it became obvious that a very large and long vine with sharp thorns had grown to cover the beautiful plant. As storms came and winds blew the beautiful leaves would be torn by the covering vine.

All I could do to try and restore the plant was to first remove the vine and then remove the damaged leaves. And there were many damaged leaves. So many that from a distance the entire plant looked damaged. But deep down new leaves were growing that can now grow fully in the place of what was so badly hurt.

What thorns are covering you? What torn areas in your heart need to be removed for new life and love to grow? Is there bitterness? Is there worry? Is there an ongoing offender in your life that continues to leave you damaged? Are you slowly becoming plagued by thoughts and attitudes that are hiding your true beauty?

There is hope. Because God sees you. You aren’t off and out of sight. You are in plain view and his hands are reaching.

I pray today for anyone who may need it: that the thorns be lifted and the damage miracously removed from your heart. I pray your heart finds comfort knowing that God can see past the damage. He sees the beautiful you hiding and trying to grow. You have been hurt. But there is healing, and no need to hold on to the hurt. May you shed all that is dead and begin to grow with new, beautiful life.

 

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Fall or Jump?

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It was early evening. We were all out on the dock. Our bigger kids were jumping and splashing. Hubby and I were on watch guard duty next to our two youngest.

I had hubby’s phone in my hand trying to snap a picture. He asked me for his phone. I handed it over, and suddenly, immediately, I feel his other hand shove at my side.

In a knee-jerk reaction, I grabbed for one of the dock posts and thankfully catch myself from plummeting over. Hubby was smiling and looking a bit disappointed and even a bit more determined to push me in yet still.

I wasn’t dressed for swimming. I didn’t want to take the plunge. I was begging “Please, no!” He laughed, gave a few more bumps and let me be.

I felt relieved.
But most of all…

I felt loved.

Because there is something about standing out on a dock next to someone you love… This incredibly strong urge to push them over the edge starts to just rise up. You begin to imagine the sheer joy of seeing them surprised and then totally submerged in that water. And clearly, my hubby was overcome by that urge.

Where does that urge even come from? I can’t help but think tonight that it truly comes from Jesus.

Jesus desires to surprise us and submerge us in the love of God. Still many of us I think try to fight it. We don’t want to be one of those over-the-edge Christians. But can I tell you something? There is a lot of joy when you stop trying to hold firm to your post, but instead just let yourself fall into his love.

So, go ahead. Let go.
Better yet, JUMP into His love.

 

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