Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thirty-nine and counting

August 11, 2012 was my wedding anniversary.  Thirty-nine years married to the same man, well, sort of to the same man.  When you have known someone for forty-three years there are lots of changes one goes through over time. The obvious is, of course, aging, which I think we are doing quite nicely.  I was thinking today about all the changes we have walked through together.  There's a time of singleness in marriage.  You know, when it is just the two of you and pretty much you do as you please. All the while cultivating similar interests and learning how to serve each other. Then comes the children of which consumes your life for the next 18 to 21 years.  That is where you hang on to each other and snatch away time whenever you can.  Still serving and crawling in each other's worlds while you raise these family individuals.  Then comes empty nesters.  Finally, taking a deep breath and being able to gaze into each others eyes without hearing your name called or keeping an eye on that one child who cannot be remote controlled.  Yes, we have walked through a lot of changes in our marriage.  I was thinking about all the physical changes as well.  The thin years, the heavy years, the in between weight years, the natural hair, the dyed hair, the thinning hair and the no hair.  And then the emotional life of it all.

Yes, lots and lots of changes,  however, one thing has been steady and unchanging all these years.....God's ever present hand in our lives.

By all accounts I am a needy woman.  I'm pretty high maintenance at times.  So I am so thankful the Lord gave me a husband who understands the needs of this needy woman.  So many times when he would rather be relaxing watching the Colts play on TV he sits with me in our gathering room listening to my yet 100th view on something.  He has encouraged me to run when I would rather walk, climb when I would rather sit down and to strive for dreams I never thought possible for this city girl.  We have traveled  to places I had only read about.  He has held me when I cried because someone rejected me or hurt my feelings.  He has been patient with me in my anger and washed Scripture over me in my despair.  We share the same sense of humor so it is always Ricky and Lucy at our house.  I love those funny moments when we look at each other and break out in laughter.  He has had to drag me into submission and I have had to learn to pray instead of pout.

A humble man who derives no pleasure from hearing his own name.  Over ten years ago he walked away from a high powered corporate job to start a business he wasn't sure would fly past a year.  We held hands and took the first leap of faith.  It turned out well.  I have watched as this humble, servant leader could have much, much more and I have so loved hearing him say, "we could, but I believe we won't". He has ruled our family with wisdom and much love.....giving at a cost to himself. Encouraging his family to let the Lord be our defender, encourager and our first love.  However, it would be a huge mistake for anyone to mistake this servant leader for weak.  He runs a successful business and is a strong man of faith.

These last years have seen us through grief at the loss of our parents, two nieces and some wonderful friends. Some old dreams have been replaced with new ones.  We have had to take hard stands on what we believe.  Loved family members through sin and repentance and rejoiced with adding new members to our "gang" of a family. We have learned some Spanish and French wowing each other with our somewhat broken language skills. 

At times I have had to hold that steady hand so tightly out of fear of the future and at other times I have prayed for wisdom to speak wise counsel to my husband's ears.  We have watched with sadness as our friends marriages have dissolved and we have rejoiced as we have seen marriages repaired and thrive.  Knowing that our marriage is not perfect and we are humans who make mistakes and fall into sin as well, we rejoice in Jesus.

Thank you for allowing me to honor my husband today.  Sorry we don't know the ten ways to keep a marriage safe, strong, etc.  No antidotes for keeping love alive.   However, there is one thing I do know that I wasn't created to be his "cheerleader" and he wasn't created to be my provider.  We were created to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind.  When that is in place the rest easily follows.  No pressure on him and no failure for me.  (Frankly what I have seen and heard these last few years coming from "experts" is just too cute and in the "box" to be real.)  I am not always his cheerleader and he isn't always my prince charming.  We have loved, lived, argued, walked, sought the Lord, and believed passionately for 39 years.  I know most of his faults and on any given day don't hesitate to let him know.  He is not perfect and that works well because.....NEITHER AM I.  

Happy Anniversary to the Love of my imperfect life!  "Come grow old with me the best is yet to be!"

(I know this may sound a little "cheesey" but hey, I like cheese! (throw in some grits and I am a happy girl!)




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Monday, August 6, 2012

For God so loved the world........

Extra time is not something I usually have a lot of in my busy life.  However, today I had a lot of "extra time".  So I caught up on some messages, fb and email while I listened to a person talking about witnessing and sharing one's faith in today's world and how it has changed from years ago.   He quoted Billy Graham as saying he would not do crusades like Mr. Graham had done in the past because it would not be as effective today.   Essentially he was saying there is a new way of witnessing and we must stay current as to persuade unbelievers to come to Christ.  Further, he stated it was our "job" as Christians to change as many minds to say yes to Jesus as we possibly can.  I guess so we could proclaim so many saved through our efforts.  Impressive to man....maybe...but not so impressive to the Lord. 

When I looked to the Scriptures I was led to John 3:16.  A verse that has crossed Christian lips a zillion times during the course of their lifetime.  But I wonder if we ever pause and look at  what the Lord was really saying in this verse.   The first part of the verse is where we will start and where we will end.  It says, "For God so loved the world...."   God loved.  He cared.  He was concerned.  He made a plan.  He planned a way of escape.  He prepared for us.  He provided for us.  He informed us.  He LOVED.  

When we are led by the Holy Spirit we love people.  We see them trapped in their sin and circumstances.  We feel compassion for their needs.  We stop seeing them as projects or feathers in our caps.  So often what I am seeing today with my fellow Christians are name droppers who use people to further their careers and ambitions.  If they can't do anything for them they move on to the next.  So their witnessing is really in and for their own name.  I think one of the saddest statements I have heard is from a man who couldn't remember what it was like not to be saved.  How then could you have the compassion and mercy on another if you don't remember what state Jesus found you.  Or perhaps taking it a step further, where you find yourself so often still bound in sin.  How can you really love  if you can't relate to their eternal circumstance? 

When you love someone you enjoy your time with them and you give time.  You include them in your family.  There is a relationship.  So often I see Christians wanting to say a prayer with someone and be on their way.   Clean and painless,  we don't have to walk through their messes or troubles. No getting our hands dirty or sleepless nights of spiritual warfare for us!  With a pat on the back and a "I will pray for you" we are on our way.  The only problem we have is trying to find room for the next feather.  With the four spiritual laws tucked safely in our pockets we move our boxes to the next project.

Today please take the time to ask the Lord to forgive you for seeing people as projects, means to achieve your own goals or feathers in your cap.  This is faulty thinking with the only cure being repentance and then ask the Holy Spirit to give you a love for the world so you might be effective in your witnessing.  Then witnessing isn't about you, your gifts, or intellect.  It is about the Holy Spirit filling you and leading you to where you need to be to talk to those He came to save.  Don't be like the Pharasises thanking the Lord they were not like "them".  Don't be decieved sweet ones "them" is "you"!  Now take another look doesn't it look different.  Somehow easier to love and easier to reach.

I have often used this blog to encourage, love, and admonish.  Today please take this as a small gift the Lord used to remind you of His love for you so you can remind someone else of His great love.  So many need the reminder that.....that even while they continued to sin He sent His Son as a way of escape so that they could be free from sin and spend eternity with Him because ......God so loved the world......