a perfect union

Last night I had the honor of attending a wedding for two remarkable young people. They met while doing the church internship, and during their courtship they chose to follow God’s plan – seeking wise counsel, honoring their parents (Ray even asked Emily’s dad permission to initially date her!),  and staying sexually pure. It’s always such an amazing thing to witness the spiritual union of two people who genuinely live out their faith in a real and authentic way.

I used to struggle with such weddings. My guilt and regrets would overtake me. I so often have wished I would have been raised up seeking such honor; knowing what purity really looked like (outside of the no sex thing). Realizing that waiting for a man of valor is not only worth the wait, but that there really ARE men of such character and intentionality.

Raising kids, it’s easy to feel as though we can’t expect them to go any further than we have. To desire them to have standards and values that exceed what we were able to achieve. But our children can raise to the levels of excellence God has called each of to, if we help them realize that the only way to set such goals and achieve them is to lean on the strength of the Lord. Never expecting perfection, but always pointing in the direction that leads them to greater success than possibly we, were able to achieve.

My son was helping with sound last night, and watching him relax with his friends, jump for the garter,  being a part of such an amazing union, I smiled knowing that he himself has pledged purity until marriage. I picture him in not-so-many years, offering his love, protection and whole-self to a lovely young woman one day. I imagine such a beautiful foundation and sure start to his future family.

What do you desire for your kids? Do you merely hope they won’t make the same mistakes you did, or lovingly show them another way? I know that for myself, I did things my way for a really long time, and it never quite worked out the way I would have hoped. Following God’s plan for my life has given me so much more peace, hope and grace than I ever could have dreamed. Now that dream is starting to grow in my kids…

A perfect union.

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promoted

Recently my husband got a promotion. For those of you who know us, you know this is a HUGE answer to prayer. Many prayers. Many prayers by many a faithful friend. We’ve lost two homes, a couple cars, said goodbye to more than one dream and, through which we learned to love one another through our mistakes and junk…family loss and death…miscarriage…broken relationships with children…Myriad personal and interpersonal struggles…

After 12 years of marriage, we’ve asked God to intervene MANY a time…

Sometimes when we ask God for breakthrough or change, we have a picture in our head of what that needs to look like. There are usually angels singing and clouds parting, with truth and love floating in the air and justice reigning supreme (in our favor, of course). In reality, however, it’s often times extremely messy once we let God get involved, and not often do we get to our “promised land” without some serious internal change.

Looking ourselves in a mirror is never easy.

More often than not, God chooses to change US and our perspective, over changing our situation. While I can’t tell you I have loved every moment of marriage and parenting, I CAN say that I have strength I never knew I had, faith deeper than I could have imagined, a God bigger than I could have dreamed, and a level of grace I am not sure is attainable without having walked through some serious valleys.

If you are in a desert season, or a trying time, keep your eyes on Him. I know it sounds cliche’ but I know of no other way through which to navigate this (mostly rocky) journey called life, without a serious dependence on God, and a desperation so great we are willing to allow ourselves to be molded into the image of Christ, through such desperation.

Keep faith and keep on. One way or the other, your promotion is coming.

perfect (and snippy)

A few nights ago I was particularly cranky. There wasn’t any one thing, just a combination of things outside my control weighing on me, coupled with some exhaustion and seasoned with a little insecurity. I was effectively breathing through it all, until one of my children had a moment of unfortunate timing, and the scale was tipped.

I was snippy. I was rude. I was insensitive and I needed to apologize.

The most remarkable thing happened that night, and an epiphany was had.

My 14-year-old not only fully accepted my apology, but she stated simply, “It’s ok, mom. We all get a little tired sometimes. I love you.”

 

I left that gap above on purpose, for her statement caused me to pause…

As much as we would all love to have it all together, to do it “right,” to not be hypocritical in teaching our children that which we ourselves have not yet mastered, we absolutely do NOT have to be perfect in order to perfect that we are called to train up in our children. Where we are strong, we can reach behind and help them up to that level. Areas where we are weak, we can be humble and admit our lack, while helping point them in the right direction and helping them up on to our shoulders in order to reach greater heighths than we could imagine…

Never discount your ability to effectively propel your child to levels you have not yet achieved. Don’t allow your own limitations to limit your children. Show them the right way and be okay with working towards your goals together.

And try not to be snippy.

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dark

Working out this morning, I started to feel tears welling up from the absolute depths of my soul. It can sometimes feel as though I just get my head above water only to plunge into the depths once again. Like the saying, “When it rains, it pours,” I often feel as though I take three steps forward, only to jump backwards twice.

I wonder, is it always dark for everyone, or just me?

Oh sure, I have days of joy, moments of  happiness. My faith that tomorrow will be new is ever present, and I know that my God works all things to good for those who love Him. It is in this truth that I find my strength. There remains, however, this nagging feeling that seasons of peace are fleeting, and that trouble is always right around the corner.

I am pretty sure that’s the reality of living in this world. Life is a journey. Like any good suspense flick, there are twists, turns, ups and downs. Even the most controlled (or controlling!) person cannot avoid the pitfalls of this life.

My point is this. We ALL face trials. Most of us on a daily basis, from one extreme to the other. It is HOW we choose to walk through them that defines us. It is in our approach and belief system that our joy is determined, or diminished. Those who choose to believe it is only they who struggle, find themselves feeling alone and abandoned. But for those of us who join together in grace and understanding, link arms with those around us, and take turns holding one another up, this is where we find hope. THIS is the light that shines in the darkest moments – when we take up the cause of Christ and choose to be His hands and feet.

No matter how “dark” it gets, there is always light. Everything has its antithesis, to every action, a reaction. Regardless of where you find yourself today, if you let Him, God will always reveal to you His goodness in the midst of it all…

“When the train goes through a tunnel and the world gets dark, do you jump out? Of course not, you sit still and trust the engineer to get you through. Don’t give up, don’t jump out. Be patient and let God remind you – He’s in control.” – Corrie ten Boom

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the longest road

Do you ever wonder what life would be like had you chosen a different road? Gone to a different college, married a different person? Had more or fewer children…??

I know I have absolutely gone through times of such thought. My husband and I dated our freshman year college then each ended up marrying different people, then divorcing and finding each other 12 years later. We have definitely had that conversation.

It’s easy to wonder. Easy to say “what if?” Our imaginations can take us quickly from what is wrong in our lives now to how great they would be had we made a different decision here, or there.

A recent conversation with a loved one brought about such a progression of thinking, but after they had walked through how things could have been better, I took them now the worst possible scenario had they made the choices they thought now, upon reflection, would have been potentially better.

The response was – “I have never looked at it that way.”

How could you look at something different today? If you really believed that God had your best interest at heart, how could you choose to turn around your thought process or beliefs about your current condition or situation and meditate on how it’s actually beneficial? Or, how God may have actually protected you in the past. OR, how even though you might be walking out the natural consequence to some not-so-great choices on your, or someone else’s part, that God will bring SOMETHING good out of it, because that is what He promises for those who love Him…

Wherever you are today, no matter where you came from, or where you perceive you are currently headed, choose to use a filter of faith and hope, assuming you are right where you should be. The longest road is often the right one, and usually leads us to our divine purpose…

 

 

regardless

If you have ever doubted the love, compassion, sense of humor and wisdom of God, you are either new to the relationship, or don’t spend enough time with Him. He’s pretty remarkable.

Growing up I wasn’t very good at defending myself. It was partly due to my people-pleasing-peace-keeping-personality, but also to the fact that our home was not always an environment in which having an opposing opinion was welcome. I am sure it was a generational thing, really, but it did hinder my communication foundation.

As an adult, I still really struggle with dissention of any kind, and will make every effort to make amends, even when being treated unfairly or with hostility. The end result, however, is I often struggle when common ground can’t be found.

The other day, I helped out with our Cherries Classroom on a weekend I don’t usually volunteer. I was pretty bummed because I had a couple of guests coming, my son was singing, and a friend was speaking. What I discovered, however, is that God was in the middle of my disappointments – in fact He orchestrated the entire thing.

The lesson was about David and how he exhibited self control when he chose not to kill his adversary King Saul, even as he had the “right,” and the opportunity. I was deeply convicted as I thought about those people in my life who have been unrelenting, unkind or absolutely cruel. We all have people who we would be “justified” in retaliating against, but in the end, that is the easy way out. Here I was, listening to a children’s message, nearly in tears as I recognized my own need to hear the message – I needed to choose the high road. Regardless.

There doesn’t always have to be a right or wrong person. We don’t have to agree. It’s okay to stand on different sides of an issue and not see it the same. But we are at fault and risk relationship with others and our God when we refuse to extend grace and love, regardless of perspective.

I am so thankful for a God who cares about my personal character and emotional growth. And, while it’s not always easy, I am so very grateful that even as my attempts to recocile might be ignored by others, there will always be a reward from my Heavenly Father for my obedience. If nothing else, I get to keep my peace.

Priceless.