Is there life without Hollywood?

I’ve been absent for a bit…I’ve come to the [painful] conclusion that using social media to give my opinions, tout my causes, or try to put forth some truth just isn’t generally effective. It seems to bring

division

misunderstanding

or apathy from most–which I get.

You all have your own causes to tout and put forth where you are trying to strong-arm the rest of us into seeing YOUR point of view. You are, for the most part, not interested in entertaining mine.

So what’s a girl who feels compelled to write and let her feelings out on such things to do?!?  Return to her blog…

So here I am and THIS is what has been nagging at me since Sunday night: The Golden Globes and Meryl Streep’s lecture to us all.

How narcissistic and full of itself the world is, was my first reaction. How one-dimensional so many of us seem to one such as Meryl. That, “without Hollywood” our only options are “football and mixed martial arts, which isn’t art, by the way.”

She’s not alone. It’s the same assuming knowledge and judgements made on others that so many within her camp have been handing down for years. I see all others as children of the God I serve, regardless of ANYTHING about them. She sees me as limited in understanding and with no imagination, it seems.

I not only dream of a world without Hollywood, I LONG for a day–an eternity, in fact–where the things of this world are no longer a concern, a burden, or a thought to me.

You see, my here-and-now includes something so far beyond Hollywood. I am trying to take to heart and put into action the words of Paul in Philippians 1:

“Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. FOR TO ME, TO LIVE IS CHRIST AND TO DIE IS GAIN. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!”       v. 18b-22

But the world doesn’t understand this kind of love–this relationship that God has graced us to have with him. They think THEY are where we find our happiness, joy, fulfillment. They think THEY can provide us entertainment and enlightenment and a depth we would otherwise never know.

But they are wrong.

So, so wrong and this is why we are called, as believers, to be the light and the salt of the world.

My life, with or without Hollywood actors, includes far more than football and MMA, Meryl. My life includes seeking and serving the God of all. The great I AM. I am a child of Abraham through my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And since the drama and emotion and every story that has ever been imagined comes from THIS source–YHVH–even you, Meryl, will someday have recognize this.

Life for me in Christ is so full that there is barely room at times for anything else. Especially those things that the world values.

 

how do God’s people respond?

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defensive

I’m going to be brutally honest here…

The sinful side of me has a hard time processing all this Islamic terror and the evil it represents in the world. Part of me wants to respond in a way that is very un-Christlike.

There. I said it. But I don’t feel better.

what enslaves you

So, what to do? This morning, I did the only thing I knew would help. I opened my bible and read and pondered and poured over scriptures.

I turned to 1 Peter where Peter is writing (probably from Rome in about 62-64 A.D.) to bolster and encourage Jewish Christians who had been driven out of Jerusalem and then scattered everywhere throughout the area. Many of these early Christians were in Greece and Rome and all around Asia Minor.

These Christians, although driven out of their land of birth, were driven into areas where they were definitely considered “foreigners.” In fact, Peter begins his letter to them:

“To God’s elect, strangers in the world…”

1 Peter 1:1

And although the entire letter serves to encourage and bolster their knowledge of the truth, I focused on 1 Peter 2:11 & 12:

“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

Aliens and strangers. This makes it so clear as I contemplate the things of this temporal world that we as Christians live in for a few short years.

Being a Christian should shape the way you live and respond to EVERYONE. Even terrorists. The values of the Gospel of Christ should be our values and as such, when we live them out, we are, indeed, foreigners.

tolerance

So I started in on some household chores and cued up a podcast from Tim Keller. It was from just a few days ago—November 5, 2015 and was entitled, “The Gospel, the Church, and the World.” It could not have been more appropriate for my scripture study or frame of mind. What was Tim speaking on? 1 Peter Chapter 2!

And since Dr. Keller has broken down Peter’s message regarding how Christians should respond in the midst of suffering so wonderfully, the following are part of the communication of his podcast to dissect these verses:

THE EARLY CHRISTIANS: What made them different from the Greeks and Romans and all other pagans they lived among?

  1. They didn’t attend or take part in the bloodthirsty entertainment of the day (i.e. gladiator matches, public means of torture).
  2. They did not serve in the military in order to support Caesar’s wars of conquest.
  3. They were against abortion and infanticide, which was common in the pagan cultures of the Greeks and Romans in which they lived.
  4. They empowered women. They used women and encouraged participation of women in roles of leadership and that was very different from the society in which they lived.
  5. They were against sex outside of marriage.
  6. They were against same-sex practices.
  7. They were absolutely radical in their support to the poor—they gave to the poor in ways that far exceeded the Greeks and Romans of their day.
  8. They mixed races and classes together in their meetings in ways that were considered scandalous.
  9. And lastly, they believed Christ was the only way to salvation.

No one had ever seen a group of people that held to all those practices. They were aliens. They were not like anyone around them.

So let’s look at a group of modern day people who are following those same sets of biblical values:

–Rejecting bloodthirsty sports and militarism, empowering women, reveling in the combination of races and classes and radically serving the poor.

What kind of group is that?

It sounds very liberal.

–Forbidding abortion and killing of children, forbidding sex outside of marriage, forbidding same-sex practices, and insisting that Jesus is the only way to salvation.

What does that sound like?

It sounds like a conservative group.

And this is who we are—ALL those things as Christ-followers. We are still aliens and foreigners in this world that often takes issue, on one point or another, with biblical truths that we ascribe to. We don’t fit into any traditional, hierarchical group.

We don’t fit into strictly liberal. We don’t fit in strictly conservative.

But in verse 12, Peter makes it clear that we are to be resident aliens. We are not called to attack or to assimilate.

What we are called to be is different in a non-defensive way. To live together and contribute. To serve. To love. And every group will vilify us because one point or another in our beliefs will offend them. They take offense at what does not suit their own and the world’s concoction of what is fair and just.

a royal priesthood

Our command: hold fast to the truth. (And now this is Jan speaking here…not Dr. Keller, although I feel he would agree!) Just as Christ demonstrated, our actions should remain above reproach, even amid hostility. Especially amid hostility! In this, either someday soon or at a future time, God judges and destroys all sin and the kingdom of heaven will rule every corner of this earth. Not the might or power of man on earth.

That job is not ours. And as hard as we may try to eradicate evil from the face of the earth…we never, ever will.

gods job my job

 

what is the truth?

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truth I like to think that I am learning and growing in my faith and understanding of who God is and how to share Christ with those around me. My hope is that the time spent reading and studying scripture leads me away from myself and ever closer to who God is and THEN how that relates to who I was created to be.

I’ve had many seasons of growth over the past 30+ years since I accepted Christ as the sacrifice to cover my debt of sin. I’ve also had many seasons of stagnant drought where, in looking back, it was literally like being in a small lifeboat, rowing around in circles but not going toward the shore.

Until what happened? Life happened and I realized what I’m missing, or more importantly, what I’m missing out on. It’s good to be in a spot of intimate fellowship again with my God—the Almighty. The great I AM. It feels good to be striving and learning, again, for real, deeper understanding and knowledge.

Our faith should require some effort. We should dedicate ourselves to be life-long learners of The Word. In a worldly analogy, we are not born and then don’t magically “know things.” Of course not! It requires a minimum of 13 years within structured learning settings. Then, for some, years longer after that. And when that is finished, are we done learning? Have we learned all there is to ever know? Absolutely not!

Our walk with the Lord is no different. How can I understand whom God is and what He is trying to teach me if I never pick up my bible? If I don’t study it? If I don’t make available other teachers of the Word, theological commentaries, or bible lessons to myself that I then put to the test of truth?

transforming of your mind

Here is one such truth that I feel compelled to make perfectly clear:

For many years, I held the belief that God was God and all the major religions of the world that worshipped God and we shared that same God. That’s not true. That’s not what God says. Why did I think that? Because it sounds “nicer.” It makes me sound less egotistical? Because it sounds like I’m not being “loving” and inclusive? Because how in the world can I (Jan) claim to know that this is not the truth but a lie? Who am I with my limited pea-brain to make such judgmental sounding, sweeping statements?

THIS is who I am and this is who you are if you claim salvation in Christ:

“But you have an anointing (John uses the Greek word chrisma, meaning “anointing” (which was done for priests and then kings in the OT): anything smeared on, unguent, ointment, usually prepared by the Hebrews from oil and aromatic herbs) from the Holy One, and you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and no lie comes from the truth. Who is a liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has also the Father.” 1 John 2:20-23

How do I know what I speak is truth? Because these are not my opinions, my ideas, or my “take” on issues of this world–this is what GOD SAYS ABOUT THEM. And because I acknowledge (have accepted Christ as my Savior), I am anointed by Christ himself for a sacred purpose and I am able to discern the truth from his word because the Holy Spirit lives in me.

“I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.” 1 John 2:26 & 27

by his wounds we are healed

I love what Kelly Minter says about this whole “everybody has the same God” theory:

“The message that Jesus preached about Himself cannot, by its very nature, be mingled, mixed, or swirled with other religious leaders or movements, because salvation rest solely on Jesus’ coming to earth in human flesh (the incarnation), His death, and resurrection that we might be reconciled to God.”

So if you remove Jesus Christ as the living Messiah and that HE is the one and only free gift from God to cover our debt of sin once and for all, then you are left with a different God.

In the gospel of John 12:44-50, Christ talks about who he is in relation to God and how we cannot reject him without also rejecting God. Christ makes it clear starting in verse 48: “There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”

If you are thinking that other religions (or even people) can make God whoever they want for themselves apart from Christ and that their God is our God, then you’re “not accepting my words,” Christ makes clear.

If you claim Christ as savior, if you feel you belong to him and want to live a life a truth according to what God says, then you and I must recognize this truth and THAT IS WHY WE TRAVEL THE WORLD OR TALK TO OUR NEIGHBOR–TO SHARE THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. Because this is the ONLY way, truth and life. Everything we do, say, or desire should be deeply, firmly, rooted in that truth.

So go out, love others—love all, but know the truth and share the truth, dear Christian! This is the sacred purpose you were created for!

make the crooked places straight

saucy!

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white bbq sauce
If you’re a fan of North Carolina BBQ with its tart, vinegar base, you’ll LOVE this! If that doesn’t appeal to your taste buds, well, move along…

White BBQ Sauce

1 cup mayo
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar (or equal/Stevia sweetner)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon hot sauce (the original recipe calls for ¼ teaspoon but we like things spicy at our house!)

Wisk all ingredients together.

This can be served as a side BBQ sauce for grilled ribs, steak, pork, or chicken. Or cook chicken breasts or a pork roast in the crockpot all day. Shred and bathe in this delicious sauce!

It stores well in the fridge to be used with leftovers.

This would also make a great, tangy salad dressing, a dip for a veggie tray, bacon wrapped shrimp, egg rolls, on homemade BBQ chicken pizza…the list is endless!

serving saving white bbq sauce

Happy eating, people!

and now, some cooking.

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spaghetti squash au gratin

A new family favorite that I’m coming up with all kinds of ways to use instead of pasta or potatoes in recipes. Start by making this quick and yummy side dish for your family meal:

SPAGHETTI SQUASH AU GRATIN

Tastes like a Potato Casserole without all the carbs!

6 Servings

Ingredients:
1 medium spaghetti squash
1/2 c. butter
1 small yellow onion, very thinly sliced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (add more if you like a little more zing!)
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt or 2 T. fresh garlic (I use the pre-made, jarred kind)
Salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup sour cream
1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (we love cheese at our house to I upped the cheese!)

Directions:
Cut the spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds. Place in a covered dish with a ¼ inch of water and microwave for 10 -15 minutes. (By the way, this is my new FAVORITE way to cook spaghetti squash!)

In a skillet over medium heat, add the butter, (I added about 1 T. olive oil, as well) onions, red pepper, garlic salt, salt and pepper and cook until the onions are brown in color.

Combine scraped out/cooked squash with your cooked onion mix. Add the sour cream and 1/2 the cheese to all the ingredients. Mix.

Spread out in a 9X13 buttered baking dish, add remaining cheese on top and cook at 375 for 20-25 minutes.

Delicious, creamy, cheesy, and just plain wonderful!

The next day, I used half of the leftover spaghetti au gratin in this breakfast cheese bake dish:

egg casserole

BREAKFAST EGG CASSEROLE

Combine in a mixing bowl:

8-12 eggs

½ lb. cooked, crumbled bacon, ham pieces, cooked sausage crumbles or Jimmy Dean pre-cooked turkey sausage crumbles

1 handful fresh spinach leaves

(helpful hint: buy a bag in the produce section and keep it in your freezer. I use this in my smoothies or in cooking—no thawing and squeezing out frozen spinach required!)

½ c. milk

½ c. chopped green pepper

2 c. leftover spaghetti squash au gratin

salt and pepper to taste

Mix together and pour into a buttered 9X13 pan. Top with cheese and bake at 325 for 30-45 minutes.

Not only does the squash casserole take out the carbs in place of using hash brown/frozen potatoes, it already contains all these great spices and flavor for your egg dish!

Happy eating, people!

happy

the other mothers.

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let no one come to you

I’m always a bit uneasy about Mother’s Day every year. Is anyone else like that?

It’s not that I don’t love my own dear mother and I am happy to proclaim that each year on a special day in May. And it’s not that I don’t love being a mother myself—it’s a calling that I felt from a very young age: to bear and mother children. To say I am grateful the Lord provided that blessing to me after my bumpy start is an understatement.

Perhaps it’s because I experienced my first Mother’s Day as a mother who had lost her child. It gives me a keen understanding of what it feels like to celebrate that day but feel like I still wasn’t quite “in the club” yet.

It took me back to being the new kid at Pymosa school…
Or being assigned to the “dumb kid” class in 6th grade at Jackson school when all my other friends were in the “smart kid” and “average kid” classes…
Or moving, yet again, because of my husband’s military career, starting another new job, and navigating another new employee cafeteria in solitude…
Or walking into a seminar that I know co-workers are attending, yet sitting alone

Mother’s Day each year provides these types of feelings for me because I am empathetic to so many women who have lost children, have tried (with much effort, expense, and determination) to have a child and haven’t, or even women I know who haven’t had the opportunity to mother a child of their own—either by their choice or circumstances.

It calls to mind the story of two sisters, Leah and Rachel. They both married Jacob.

“When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.” Genesis 29:31

God blessed Leah with children for Jacob because Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. Four times Leah gives birth to sons for Jacob and Rachel remains childless for years. She becomes distraught and unhappy because of it.

“When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” Genesis 30:1

This is a woman I can relate to. This is a woman I can empathize with because of her deep desire to be a mother. I can understand her desperation and impatience and misunderstanding of God’s plan. “Why does God continue telling me, ‘No.’?” had to be her question year-after-year as her sister easily becomes pregnant, gives birth, and she watches her husband with these growing children. Every day must have felt like Mother’s Day to Rachel as she remained childless!

On Mother’s Day each year I call to mind women who have played important, pivotal roles in my life, even though none of them have never given birth to a child. None of them are my mother, yet God used them in mighty ways to help teach, direct, instruct, and point me to Christ and provide me with important life lessons.
i realize youre not my mom

These women include my aunt, Judy Marnin, Cherie Carl, Cindi Metzger, and Chris Roules. I don’t just recall these women on Mother’s Day—I am reminded of their effect on me almost continually. But I DO think of each of them on Mother’s Day and how they have all provided things rich in positive and eternal consequences that benefit me.

thank god everytime i think of you
They have all propelled me to be a woman who, like them, is available, willing, and persistent in my ministry to help other young women find the key to successful living: a life surrendered to Christ.

They have all helped me navigate, in one way or another, through my teenage years, my young adult years, and now as I enter these more “mature” years.
when we first met

They all continue, as individuals, to provide meaningful and lasting ways to bring Christ to those around them in what they do in their jobs, their churches, their neighbors, and their daily interactions in every situation.

So Mother’s Day is sweet, but the daily work we take on to help others find or deepen their knowledge and application of what it means to enter through the narrow gate and walk down that narrow path toward glory is the real meat of the matter.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13 & 14

Whether we are a mother in the traditional sense or not. Whether we are doing this with our birth children or with those that others have given birth to. Do meaningful, lasting work. Have your efforts effect eternity.

This is cause for celebration!

This is worthy of an eternal Hallmark card!
thank you for your part in my journey

our most important mentorship.

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behind every great kid
Last Saturday, February 28, marked 25 years since Joe came and then, almost as quickly, left us. But in so many good ways he has never left. Even though he came and left physically, his little short life continues as a demonstration in my life and others of God’s faithfulness over these 25 years. And then there are these two sweet gifts…

nina and emma wedding

My daughters, Nina and Emma.

I meet weekly with a group of Christian women. Most of them are ten or more years older than myself (I am 51) and a couple of them are young mothers with children still under school age. It’s a great mix of ages and stages and experiences and wisdom and frustrations and struggles.

Last week we talked about mentoring. Specifically, the importance of mentoring other younger women in Christ but also, for most of us, a very critical mentoring relationship: Mentoring our own children in Christ. We related this to Elisabeth, mother of John the Baptist, Mary’s cousin, the mother of Christ, and the important mentoring role she played while waiting to be a mother to John herself and then when Mary, with child, came to live with Elizabeth and Zechariah.

And it occurred to me that I had not viewed the raising of my daughters with an intentional mentorship in mind from the beginning. With our children, it’s not like the typical mentor/mentee relationship. There isn’t that usual feedback from the beginning.

I’m a normal mom and we are a normal family. To be sure, my kids saw me at my worst at times, I’m sad to say. It would be safe to say that anyone I would mentor, I would never DREAM of subjecting them to my screaming rants and tirades!

I would lose my patience…

I would raise my voice…

I would not always guard my tongue…

Sometimes I wouldn’t say anything when I knew I should… That’s almost worse!

I could have prayed with them more…

I should have read and explained more Bible stories to them…

And as my younger (and very wise) sister pointed out to me when we were talking about this the other day, I also had to apologize to them for how I acted or what I said and ask them to forgive me…many, many times!

The list is endless and the guilt keeps heaping up!

Fortunately God is bigger than even my best parenting day and my best attempts at walking out my faith in front of my children!

I suppose, if you’re a parent, your list looks (or looked at one time) very similar to mine. Our stories are the much the same. We can all suffer from short sightedness. The days are filled with mundane daily things and sprinkled in, as the years roll on, are occasions we want to savor with our kids.

Here is the importance of my message for young Christian parents: Don’t overlook the drudgery of the ordinary day. All those days put together—that is your child’s childhood. Use those years to the fullest to mentor their faith, to help nurture their curiosity of who God is, and to want to seek and know him.

Don’t miss any opportunity.

But for me…

POOF!

Now it really does feel like all those years happened in a flash. It stuns me sometimes. I almost can’t believe it.

So it’s on to the next step. The things God has for me. What else am I here to do? How else can I be used? It’s in motion and I’m ready and I’m listening…and I’m still learning who God is because that’s the only way I understand who I am.

“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”
I Timothy 1:15

NOW more than ever, walk out your faith.

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perhaps this is the moment

Like many of my fellow Christian believer brothers and sisters, I’ve been thinking a lot about persecuted Christians and especially those 21 Coptic Christians who were beheaded by ISIS Islamist extremists recently.

coptic christians

Religious people killing other religious people. It’s nothing new.

It has been a while since we’ve seen this recent wave of barbaric means, however. The majority of the world is civilized. The majority of us don’t “get it”. It’s hard for us to even process. So that isn’t even what I’ve been thinking most about lately.

Serving Christ as a missionary and losing your life is something I’m familiar with. The story of Jim Elliot comes to mind and his four Evangelical companions (Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming, and Nate Saint). All missionaries who were killed by the Auca Indians of Ecuador on January 8, 1956. It’s a powerful story, if you’ve never read about it. Jim’s young wife, Elisabeth and 1-year-old daughter stayed in Ecuador for two years beyond his death ministering to the people of that area. They had a powerful impact.

jim elliot quote
elisabeth elliot quote

What keeps coming back to me is this: do I have what it takes to literally put my neck on the line for my Savior?

Of course, I hope I do. I feel like I do but I realize until I am put in a situation like that, I would not really know for sure. A news story in June 2013 stated that it is estimated that 100,000 Christians worldwide are violently killed because of their faith every year. Two-hundred million Christians around the world live under persecution. Every. Single. Day.

I think about what choosing death for Christ over life would mean…

I would give up a future with my husband and children and, hopefully, eventual grandchildren and watching them live their faith out. A future with my parents, in-laws, and key aunts and uncles as they age. A future of standing side-by-side with my siblings when my parents are safely in the arms of their Savior. A future of seeing nieces and nephews marry and have families. Most importantly, I would give up a future of continuing to share Christ with those around me in meaningful and small ways.

But then I think about what I would forfeit by not standing firm in my faith.

Eternity is a very, very long time. I am not ashamed to proclaim that I am looking forward to it. And all these relatively short days on earth that I’ve missed being with family on holidays, wanting to have Sunday coffee with my sister, shopping with my daughters, playing games and watching movies with those I love…I have this blessed assurance. Most of those people will be right there with me for all of eternity. That is beyond comforting and I look forward with anticipation and excitement to share it with them all. I am certain they feel the same.

Mark 13:13 states, “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved”. This was a real issue for early followers of Christ and it remains a real issue, as we continue to witness Islamic extremists who not only hate Christians and Jews, but are determined to kill us for what they feel is righteous.

But this daily fear and persecution is not something that the fluffy-feel-good American Christian believer has to deal with. We are fortunate to have multiple Bibles on our shelves. We don’t have to keep one copy hidden and in secret like many around the world. We talk openly and freely and throw around phrases like, “Have a blessed day!” to each other in normal conversation. Like so many other things that the rest of the world encounters, in this country, we really have no clue what it means to suffer for our faith. It’s easy. Too easy. And we get lazy.

Oh sure…we might get a snarky Facebook post from a non-believing or supposed atheist friend occasionally. Big deal. A war of words. That is not what God has called us here for. Stop wasting time.

Let me ask you this, fellow Christ follower: Why are you here?

Let’s get back to the reason we, as fellow heirs, are all here. For one reason only: To proclaim the Good News that is Jesus Christ to the world. Your world is what surrounds you. Are you doing that?
salt of the earth

life lessons.

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important things

So…yeah…I don’t make New Year’s resolutions but I have been pondering some of those “life lessons” that you have to live beyond 30+ years to start accumulating and here are a few thus far: (some of these, if you’ve known me more than 5+ years, you MAY have heard me utter at some point because I’m all about knowledge is power…)

~kids and dogs…they will ruin everything you own.

But let me tell you this:

those precious loves are such a sweet gift even in those hard, frustrating, maddening, “you just spilled what where?!?” moments of your life, in years to come they will not bother you. Both of them, but especially the kids, when they are grown and gone and “big” you will look at those stains and past frustrations with longing and love. I know. It seems impossible now but trust me. You will. And you’ll be sitting there thinking about it with a smile on your face (not to be confused with the screeching, vein popping demeanor you exhibit in the moment…)

~Those things that today, tonight, right now that wake you in the middle of the night and keep you awake and you focus on and you give far too much attention? Are you thinking of those things?

Well, here’s the truth:

they will work themselves out

and you will think, “If this thing gets resolved, we can move on and all will be good and I won’t be so obsessive…” .

Umm…well…that probably won’t happen. It WILL be okay and it WILL work out but then you’ll move on to the next little thing that you’ll obsessively focus on and IT will keep you awake. TRY NOT TO DO THIS! I have found the best way to deal with these things at 2:30 a.m. is to lie in bed and pray for those in need or who are closest to me. Shift the focus. Change your mindset. Give yourself over to something beyond yourself and your silly issues. Because that really is what they are.

~When your kids are in their teenage years and they act like they hate you at times, (which they might, but that’s okay) just ignore them.

They are teenage kids.

They are ignorant.

They really love you so keep forcing them to stay involved in family things and game night and going camping and having fires in the backyard together. Five years down the road, they will probably thank you and might even ask you to do some of those things together! It’s a beautiful thing!

~Love your children enough to let them go and celebrate their departure.

Give them wings…I know it sounds silly and cliche but it really is the truth.

But it’s not always easy to do. Sometimes you will STILL want to dive in and rescue them. You’ll want to try and shield them. You’ll want to help them more financially than you should. You’ll want to tell them what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear. But celebrate their adult space, especially if it involves in-laws for them. Celebrate ALL the loves in their life. It doesn’t diminish yours. There is room for everyone.

~Learn how to be okay with being alone,

bettering yourself,

having a hobby,

doing things you enjoy by yourself,

and developing your own interests.

Even if you’ve been married since you were 20-years-old, you will have times when you will feel alone and you will be alone so you need to be okay with you.

~Most importantly, with each important decision, lesson, conversation, or action with those closest to you,

Christ

should be at the center of it all. Never stop seeking, desiring, and deepening your knowledge and efforts to seek Christ above all things. And I do really mean ALL THINGS. All relationships, circumstances, and encounters. And without that firm foundation, all other ground really, truly, sincerely is sinking sand. I’m telling you…that’s the truth.

I’m still just scratching the surface

but these are a few things I’ve learned

so far

and will carry on with…

this thing called love.

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cslewis
What happens when a sensible girl from the Midwest with eastern European, stoic traits marries a boy with half-Spanish blood who is highly emotional and exuberant and passionate about nearly everything he does? It’s not always a pretty picture, I’ll tell you that much.

It’s like the joke I heard recently: There was a man in the Midwest that loved his wife so much that he almost told her once…yikes!

Well…it’s not quite like that between us but I do know communication isn’t my strong suit 100% of the time. There are times I’d rather not talk. There are times I know we should talk and “deal with things” but, oh, it’s more lovely to just sail along as the minutes tick by and keep things comfortable and without the conflict that often comes with “dealing with things.”

Ugh…

I suppose nobody enjoys that strife but I detest it so much that I’d just as soon put on my blinders and keep plugging along down the road thinking everything is just fine. Because if I think everything is just fine, then, perhaps, just maybe, it actually will be.

That works, for the most part. But it doesn’t work for my other half much of the time. Things bubble up. He becomes frustrated at my lack of addressing things. And, to his credit, he can tell when things are “bugging me” yet I am trying my best to act like everything is hunky-dory. He is perceptive, this Latin love of mine!

Maybe it’s the same for you. Maybe you’re the one who wants to address that big fish on the line and your spouse is the one who wants to just keep sailing along. For us, it has been 30 years now of doing this dance and working this through and I keep wondering, “When is this going to get easier? When will we have it ‘figured out’?”

I’m sure there are those marriages where it’s always smooth and easy but, somehow, I really don’t believe it.

Humans are too problematic.

We are difficult.

We are selfish.

We get stuck and focused on stupid, little things that really aren’t important and we waste not just seconds and minutes—we waste days and months and, sadly, years.

I don’t want that to be me so I keep trying to get it right. Because I do feel this way about my husband:

“His mouth is sweetness itself; he is altogether lovely.
This is my beloved, this is my friend”
–Song of Solomon 5:16

My friend. He is my friend that knows me well…too well. And maybe that is part of the problem. Our friends know us so we are comfortable and we think they know how we feel most of the time. We think it goes beyond words, which it does, but sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes we still have to use our words.

Words are good and necessary and they need to be spoken. Often whether we think they are necessary or not…

I need to remember that I’m not always speaking just for me. I’m often speaking for him to hear me.

It’s a challenge, isn’t it? I do love a good challenge but, oy vey! It sure can be a lot of work that transcends challenging and enters frustrating.

But we keep plugging along, this friend and I.

My beloved.

And then I drink in the moments when it really is altogether lovely.