Happy Anniversary to Us

Today is our 29th Wedding Anniversary.  Yes, I know, most people don’t get too excited about #29; we celebrate 25 or 50 but not 29 so much.  The past 16 months have seen a lot changes in our lives, all good but not always smooth.  I am excited about this anniversary; God has pushed, pulled, nudged and carried us every day for the past 29 years.  He has brought us to a good place to live and a good place in our relationship – it has cost something to get here.  It has not always been easy or fun but it has been worth it.

A blogger I read and  admire is “Insanitybytes”, her blog is titled, See, there’s this thing called biology…”  A recent post dealt with that polarizing subject,  Submission.  Her post, combined with our anniversary has made me think about marriage and my own challenge with understanding and living in Biblical submission to this man God has given me.

My husband and I are both the first-born in each of our families, we are also both strong, opinionated leaders who lived independent lives before being married.   With two determined personalities in one small house someone had to be in charge or our crazy train would have derailed long ago.

Like it or not we are ALL under authority and we all must submit; someone has to be in charge, has to have the last word.  We all have supervisors, teachers,’ bosses, ,police, and government officials that we submit to in order to get our work done and to maintain an orderly society.  In our household, my husband is the authority.  In God’s Biblical design for the family, it is the husband, the male head of the household who has the last word.  And that is the clearest way to explain submission – the Greek word is actually, “hupotasso” which means to place in order, to come under authority; SOMEONE has to lead.

In a Jesus-centered and loving marriage, both husband and wife are equal and both should be able to voice their opinions and thoughts on all matters and both should be always be heard and their opinions seriously considered and discussed.  The wife is accountable to God to honor and respect her husband; the husband is accountable to God to LAY DOWN HIS LIFE  for his wife.  The husband’s calling is much more serious and carries greater responsibility; he is responsible to love and protect her and to sacrifice his own needs and wants for her.

In every marriage, there are disagreements and some of them are serious.  Submission comes into play when couples reach in impasse on these disagreements.  A decision needs to be made.  Whose will or opinion will prevail?  Unless my husband is choosing something that is in clear violation of the Word of God, he decides.  I trust that he has been listening to and seeking God’s will, I accept that he is the God-appointed leader over me, I have faith that God has a plan and purpose and I submit to my husband.  Most disagreements are not about matters that are contrary to God’s Word; we disagree about money, about jobs, about how to discipline (or not discipline) the children.  Even when a husband is not a Christ-follower, the wife is to let him lead the household; she is to submit.

This has not always been easy, in fact there were many times when it was incredibly difficult.  I am grateful that God gave me a husband who truly wants to be a good husband, who wants to do it God’s way and whose intention towards me has always been good.  He has made decisions I did not always agree with and I kept silent as we slogged our way through; some of his decisions were good and right, but, not all in my opinion.  He has respected my opinion and often taken my advice.  We each have our strengths, weaknesses and preferences and are content to let the other lead in their area of strength or preference.  A good example of this was parenting our young kids; I was and am much more patient and able to stay home, dealing with tantrums and endless viewings of Disney classics; he was much more adventurous and took them to the park where they could climb and get muddy.

It has been 29 years of learning, adjusting, discussion, compromise, laughter and tears.  A sense of humor and commitment to making it work, never, NEVER allowing the “D” word, and prayer have sustained us through some pretty tough times; we truly are better together.  Has it gotten easier?  Yes, but there are days we each retreat to our corner of the house, cool off and then re-group, re-visit, discuss again.  And that is key, don’t stay in your corner, be willing to admit to being wrong, to making the first move to reconciliation, to look for the log in your own eye.

I recognize that what has been true for me is not true for everyone ; even in those households where both husband and wife say they are following Jesus. If you are in a situation that is abusive, none of this applies to you – you need to be in a place of safety and your husband needs to be held accountable for his actions.

If you are struggling with your marriage and/or the whole idea of submission, talk to God, search His Word and seek wise, Biblical counsel.  Don’t use your differences of opinion as a loophole to abandon a difficult marriage but as an opportunity for personal growth and closeness to God.  Marriage is not for everyone and it is certainly not easy but, for me, I would do it all again and am hoping for another 29 years!

Happy Anniversary, Honey!

Here’s Your Sign

It caught my eye.  A sign.  Lots of places have signs and I like finding those with cute or catchy sayings; some very funny signs are outside churches:

  • “Wal-mart isn’t the only saving place.”
  • “Experts made the Titanic, amateurs made the ark.”
  • “God answers knee-mail.”

You get the idea, you can find many more on the internet.  The church sign that caught my eye today was simple and to the point,

“Christians Meet Here”

My first crushing thought was, “No wonder people hate us.”  I was offended by this sign.  Is this church saying they have an exclusive club that only Christians are invited to join?  Are non-Christians not welcome to attend a service or event?  Is it an arrogant declaration that Christians are better than everyone else?  Now, I realize there is more than one way to interpret and read this sign and I am sincerely hoping that this church had the best of intentions but to me that was unclear.

Sadly, a common reason people give for NOT going to church is that they did not feel welcomed,  they felt out of place or they did not feel like they fit in.  One of the things that made me fall in love with Jesus was His ability to speak to anyone and make everyone feel like they had His undivided attention for those moments; He looked at people.  I suggest we, like Jesus, need to much more intentional when we attend our churches.

We need to be intentional in looking for someone we don’t know, especially anyone who looks confused or seems to be alone.  We need to be intentional in focusing on the person we don’t know rather than our comfortable group of friends.  We need to be intentional in not sitting in our “self-assigned”,same seat but moving around so we can greet someone we have not greeted in the past.  Oh, and just another pet peeve, I hate greeting time; if you are the “new person” it is terribly awkward when everyone else is hugging and talking and you are just standing there.  Pastors, if your church does a greeting time, keep it very short – I have been in churches where greetings went on for several minutes; I never go back to those churches.

Church is not about me and getting my needs met; that is a blessed by-product of church participation.  Church is about what I can offer to God and His people.  The only thing God wants, the most important thing to bring to church is my heart, uncertain, searching, broken, wounded, open and sometimes full.  Had that sign, Christians Meet Here, been on the church I visited years ago my unbelieving heart might still be on the outside looking in…

My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.  For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?   James 2:1 – 4

February Book Review

I am participating in a community event organized by a fellow blogger at Weird and Wonderful

The book I am reviewing for the month of February is: The Optimists Daughter by Eudora Welty.  I chose this book because of my personal challenge to read all of the Pulitzer Prize Winners for Fiction; I have read some amazing books from this list!

Eudora Welty is considered one of America’s most admired authors.  Born in 1909 in Jackson Mississippi, her first book was published in 1941 and several others followed in quick succession. Welty then stopped publishing for several years, resuming again in 1970.  In 1972 she produced The Optimists Daughter, which was the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1973.  Welty died in 2001 in her life-long home, Jackson Mississippi.  (Welty’s bio)

The Optimists Daughter is a short novel, less than 200 pages, and the first book by Welty that I have read.  The story itself is simple.  Laurel McKelva Hand has traveled to New Orleans to be present for Judge McKelva’s surgery, the Judge is Laurel’s father.  Laurel’s mother had died after a long illness years earlier and her father has since remarried a much younger woman named Fay.  Laurel herself is also a widow, her husband died a year after their marriage in an attack on his naval ship during WWII.  Laurel’s father never fully recovers from the surgery and dies while still in the hospital.   Laurel and Fay travel by train to escort his body back to the family home in Mississippi for the funeral.

The story packs an emotional wallop as it deals with loss and grieving.  Welty’s ability to tell the story primarily through the dialogue of each character is masterful.  Welty imparts a distinctive voice to each person which enabled me to visualize them.  Much of the story is told by the other characters, Laurel herself says very little, keeping her thoughts and feelings contained within herself as she observes and listens to the others.  Each person in the story has different reactions to Judge McKelva’s death and again, Welty portrays each one vividly with her thoughtful descriptions, pacing and word choices.

I don’t want to give too many details about the plot or characters since I, as a reader, prefer to uncover them myself but one group of characters were particularly endearing, “The Bridesmaids”.  This group of women, friends since childhood, were Laurel’s bridesmaids at her wedding and all six of them show up at the train station and several other times in the story.  I loved how faithful, protective and supportive they were to Laurel, here is an excerpt from their reunion at the train station:

Tish Bullock winked at Laurel.  It was a moment before she remembered: this was the bridesmaids automatic signal in acute joy or distress, to show solidarity.

After the funeral, Laurel remains alone in the family home with her grief, searching for meaning, memories and understanding of her past and it’s relationship to the present.  Sooner or later, and like Laurel, each of us will deal with this most common human experience  – the death and loss of people we love.  Beautifully told, full of emotion, I definitely recommend a slow, thoughtful reading of this book.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21: 3, 4

Book Review Day

Snap Out of It!

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8

In one my all time favorite movies, Moonstruck,  Ronnie (Nicholas Cage) has just professed his love for his future sister-in-law, Loretta (Cher).  In this classic scene she looks him in the eye, slaps him and yells, “Snap out of it!”

We all need a good dose of “Snap Out of It!” from time to time.

  • Are you having a little pity party because you didn’t get your way?  Snap Out of It!
  • Feeling grumpy today cupcake?  Snap Out of It!
  • Just not “feeling it”  at work?  Snap Out of It!
  • Don’t want to tackle that sink full of dirty dishes?  Snap Out of It!
  • Nobody noticed you got a haircut?  Snap Out of It!
  • Angry at getting caught doing something you shouldn’t?  Snap Out of It!
  • Jealous of your friend’s cute boyfriend?  Snap Out of It!
  • Complaining about grocery shopping?  Snap Out of It!
  • Disappointed with having to shop at thrift stores?  Snap Out of It?
  • In love with a person who is wrong for you?  Snap Out of It?

We put a lot of emphasis on our feelings and emotions and we can easily mistake feelings for reality.  I never “feel” like doing the laundry but I do it every week because I like having clean clothes and cannot afford to buy new ones all the time!  Life lived on feelings and not facts is a roller coaster you don’t want to ride.

There is no question life can be disappointing and frustrating.  Many things happen that we cannot control and did not cause but we can always, ALWAYS control how we respond to disappointment, frustration, betrayal and loss.  We can choose to respond honestly. focus on the lesson learned, and turn it back to praise.  Don’t bury the emotions but don’t dwell on them or let them define or identify who you are.  Find the help and support you need, remember it is not about you, ask God to correct your thinking, pull up your big girl (or boy!) pants, pray, a lot, and move on.

Sound too simple for you?

Snap Out of It!

Silver Screen

20/20 VISION

Today’s post by Guest Blogger, Tiffany Barnett.  My friend and sister in Christ whose love for the Lord burns bright!

Why is it so easy to see the worst in others while being blinded to their best? Our inner, hypocritical struggle plants little seeds that harvest a garden of hatred. We tend to forget God created all of us from dust; and what we despise in others is actually a reflection of what resides in our selves. It may not always look the same, but its’ origins never differ. The origin is this: we all have fallen short of the glory of God.

Christ died for all, not some, so that those who believe in him can be reconciled to a Holy God, who we all have sinned against. What a humble reminder when God lovingly but sternly removes us from our man-made pedestal, reminding us He bore our sin and shame. How quick we are to see smudges on the windowpane, as the beautiful view behind it goes unnoticed.

Out of all of Jesus’ disciples, Peter always comes to my mind as an example of placing the focus on a person’s failures and forgetting the glory of God through their life. Peter walked on water with Jesus but quickly sank when he tried to swim in his own self-sufficiency. Jesus rebuked him, even calling him Satan, for having his mind on the here and now rather than eternity. Many times Peter seemed to have it all figured out; yet his actions demonstrated that the depth of Jesus’ words was like a shallow puddle evaporating in the summer sun. There was one incident in Peter’s life that stands out so profound, it has attached to him like a title, a last name. Peter denied Jesus not once, not twice but three times. The disciple who said, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” (Matthew 26:35), later said, ” I don’t know the man!” (Matthew 26:72). This outspoken follower of Jesus, cowardly turned on his heels back the way he came; turning his back on Jesus.

How easy we remember the ugliness of Peter’s failures, quickly forgetting the beautiful totality of the outcome. The beauty in Peter’s life wasn’t about Peter at all; rather the immeasurable love, grace and forgiveness of God shown to him. The worst possible outcome was not the denial, but would have been the absence of return. But God, being so great in his love and mercy, encouraged Peter to turn back to Jesus and not walk away. Jesus later built the Rock, His church on Peter! Wow, what an amazing comeback for Peter through the power of God. We fail to see the love of God, when we only see the things in which He died for in others. Is it not our selves we see when looking at Peter? We all have denied Christ at one point or another, and many times we deny Him daily. God never asked us to be perfect, so why do we demand it in others?  Perception through our own eyes fogs our vision, unable to see Christ’s clear, 20/20, loving view of them. The Bible says to encourage each other, considering your brother better than yourself; to love as Christ has loved us, forgiving each other as he has forgiven us. Oh, how wonderful the world would be if we encouraged each other in the gifts God has given those around us, building them up; rather than creating blueprints for their reconstruction and renovation, tearing them down. How is it that Christ saw all that was evil in us and still died for us? The answer is simple; He loved us.

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 
Colossians 2:2