Monday, September 30, 2013

So what gets in the way, of loving him?

It is one thing to talk about what it means to love someone, and as important to look at what gets in the way.  If you only are conscious of the do’s, you may really mess up through the don’ts.
First, although it is important to we talk about loving our husbands by doing certain things or showing it in certain ways, it is important first to have the commitment to the relationship – to recognize that you, as a married couple, are now one flesh.  That means you care as much about this other person, this other half of yourself as you do yourself.  You commit yourself to that person’s well-being because you love them. Hurting him would be like hurting yourself, like taking a hammer to your right arm.
Now, if you are one of those people who think that it is absurd to love him as you love yourself because you don’t love yourself, let me ask you, what do you do for yourself?  You feed yourself, and pick out foods you really like, don’t you? You bathe yourself, and choose as nice clothes as your budget will afford; you care for your appearance, and you rest yourself, think a lot about yourself and what you want, and you entertain yourself, don’t you?  It is not bad to love yourself and take care of yourself!! The bottom line is that we do a lot of things for ourselves…and Scripture says we are to love our husbands…in essence, do for them the same as we want them to do for us.  (PS, if you really struggle to love yourself, then you have another problem and really need some help.)
So, let’s talk a little more about what actually gets in the way of your loving him as you love yourself.  First, isn’t there a part of you that does for him, so he will do for you?  We arrive at the altar with a whole lot of expectations.  We, even if we don’t realize it, assume he will have all of the best traits of our fathers.  We assume he will be able to read our minds and know what we want – to have, to do, and to feel…and where we want to go on date night.  That assuming thing is not playing fair!  He is a guy, and I promise you, he cannot read your mind, so you better quit expecting him to.  He desperately wants to please you, but he cannot know how unless you tell him.
Then we need to do a searching inventory of our own motivations; whether we like it or not, and whether it is easy to admit or not, the evil one is busy messing with our minds so he can mess with our marriages.
Let me ask you to look at a few obstacles to good communication, an essential to a good marriage.  Is there a little part of you that wants things your way?  A part of you that wants to be in control?  Is there a part of you that thinks more about how things affect you than how they might affect him?  How much time do you think about what would be good for him or how you can help him achieve his goals – and do you know what they are?  Do you assume he will have all the bad traits of your father and then behave toward him relative to that assumption? The evil one whispers into our ears thoughts about how we need to protect ourselves, how we need to be strong, not vulnerable, that we need to use our feminine wiles to get our way. 
Any of these things sound familiar? I know many of these things described me in the early years of our marriage, and I am subject to these temptations even now, but if we want a godly marriage, we have to have more than a good act.  We have to have a right heart, right with God and right with our mate, be truly one with our mate.
image from

Friday, September 27, 2013

So how can you love him?

Okay, I know I am a hoarder…well, of books and notes and articles…I figure if I thought them worth cutting out or printing once, they must be useful and will be useful again.  And although I moved my office home back in May, I still have not made it through everything I brought home. Today I started through a notebook I had for a class I taught and leafing through it, found this great post from posted back in September of 1999 entitled “Five Speedy  Minutes to a Better Marriage”
Now, according to John Gottman, Ph.D, author of The Seven Principles That Make Marriage Work, it is not about lots of shared time (like weekends away or long vacations together that are heard to find time for) that makes a marriage work.  It is making the most of five- minute blocks of time you do have.  Gottman says “The more five minute connections you are able to make, the better…because the more good connections you make, the more money you’ll have in your emotional bank, and the richer your relationship will be.”

I know this is fourteen-year-old news, but I think it is still relevant.  So thanks to Dr. Gottman, I will share four recommendations he makes, and four ways that I think you can show him, and each other, real love.
First, he suggests that you cuddle at the most important time of day.  He says that most couples cuddle at the end of the day – think on the couch in front of the TV, or in bed just before you go to sleep.  He suggests setting your alarm clock five minutes earlier, spending that time consciously, and I mean awake and purposefully, holding each other.  He says, “It’ll help you both to start the day feeling loved, and you’ll feel that way all day long.”  From personal experience, he’s right.  Now, we are morning people anyway, so that helps, but it is a great way to start the day.  Try it; give it some time!

Secondly, he suggests that you ask each other one simple question before you head out the door – or part company from each other regardless of the time of day.  The question:  “Anything special going on in your day today?”    And at the end of the day – or period apart, check back in.  Asking the follow-up question shows you really did care.  And on a personal note, as I pray about him and his day, I do feel closer to him all day.
Thirdly, share what you like about each other.  Remember that research shows how important respect is to him. So tell him what you respect him for and like about  him.  Five minutes, that’s all.  It’s not like you have to write a long treatise, but be conscious about those things that drew and draw you together.  Once you develop the habit of looking for good things to share with each other, it really does help minimize the conflicts.

Finally, spend five minute blocks of time doing small kindnesses for each other. You might spend five minutes in the supermarket finding the right dessert, a special candy bar or salty treat for him…or hunting up a recipe online for something he likes.  You could do things like taking him a hot, or cold drink, ironing a shirt, or putting his laundry away, or cleaning out the trash in the car.  You know what those kindnesses are for your spouse, or friend.  The point is, it doesn’t take much time to do an act of kindness.
So, now you have some simple ideas that don’t take much time that help him feel loved.
image from 


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Make love, not war!

I am still thinking about what it means to love your husband, and the title of this entry, an old slogan from my youth, well, not my youth, but the time of my youth, came to my mind,   Make love, not war!  As I thought about those words, the truth of them blossomed to me – you cannot love someone and fight with them – make war with them.  It is kind of an either/or!
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people tell young lovers to “just wait until you have your first fight” normalizing fights as something that should be expected.  People fight to win leaving a bloody trail behind them!  They take a position, a belief, and dig their feet in, using whatever ammunition they can find to make their case. And  now couple expect to have fights; it’s OK to fight, but…

Words!  Ugly words dredging up past failures, past errors in judgment are hurled at each other like sharpened knives, like the piercing point of an arrowhead.  Those words which really carry curses, like you always or you never zing though the air into your mate’s heart, digging deep scars, words recorded to burnish the edges and the shine from the words of love you once pledged.
Wives, you must count the cost of every word you say because you cannot unsay them; you cannot take them back.  Oh yes, you can, and should, apologize, but no pile of apologies can ever erase hurtful words from his memory. Those jabs, those bloody wounds leave behind scars, echoes, and I think they become tools the evil one can and will use to discourage and defeat husbands.  And after a while, as the pain accumulates, the love and commitment becomes a memory buried under words which have become evidence of rejection, disrespect, and, yes, hate.

Does that mean we should stifle any ideas that might be in conflict with his?  No!  But we must remember to lace our communication with love.  We can find ways to share our ideas in such a way that they are received as helpful, not hurtful.  True confession, I used to think it would be helpful if I tried to explain why someone might have said something hurtful to my husband, sometimes the words or behaviors were not aimed at my husband, but he absorbed them… He interpreted my trying to explain how the other person could think that as my defending the other person and my agreeing with the other person.  I am so grateful that he told me that was how he felt.  There was no fight. Instead there was communication, especially helpful communication about behaviors I could change.
Last night I used bacon bits in green beans, a disaster!!!  Don’t do it.  They swelled up into moist bit of soy, ugly.  He ate them graciously, but after dinner, he suggested very kindly that I might not want to use bacon bits again.  And, instead of being crushed that I had failed so monumentally – they really were bad – I thanked him and reassured him that I wanted to know what he liked, and didn’t like because I wanted to please him.

I read an article years ago about “counting the cost of your no’s,” a NO not always being the use of the word no, but taking the opposite position, and I pass it on to you now.  Before you speak, listen through his ears.  Think about what it would be like to be on the receiving end of those remarks, and make love, not war.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Did you believe the lie? about sex?

I feel so bad, so sorry for young people because they have been sold a bill of goods, a big fat lie – that sex is the be-all and end-all.  I have had young women – college age, tell me that they wanted to get rid of their virginity because it made them feel labeled, and not in a good way.  The goal was to get the sex thing over with; how tragic!!  They do not know that sex, as defined in too much of our culture, is like a cheap imitation of the real thing.
Sex is about selfishness, I think.  It is about finding ways, finding excitement, to pleasure oneself.  And that’s the problem!  God meant the sex act to be the creation of a one-fleshedness (if I can make up a new word.)  God’s design for the intimate act was for each partner to seek to make the other feel desired, feel belonging, feel appreciated and loved – the bottom line, it is the physical expression of a union made before God. God, in a couple of different places, gave us  teaching that men are to love their wives, as Christ loved the church (the pinnacle of unselfish love) and older women are to teach young women to so love their husbands that they feel preferred above others, that they feel cherished.

Having sex falls way short of God’s design.  That act that takes place in back seats, in darkened secretive places is not about giving to the partner – expressing one’s affection and desire for their pleasure, but more a pursuit of personal pleasure.  And kids don’t know there is a difference!  By the time they have explored sex outside of and before marriage, they think that is all there is.  They think that furtive act, regardless of the momentary physical pleasure (and sin is pleasurable for a time) is what everyone is talking about.  They believe the lie.
The reality is that God has made the marriage act, the act of love to be a secret, sort of, between two married people who have committed themselves to love each other.  It is the culmination of the verbal commitment they have made to each other publicly.  Love-making , this gift God has given married people is something they learn to do, and it is something this couple do together, a way of relating to each other that they do with no one else.

They devote themselves to pleasuring each other, to making each other feel loved, and the longer they are together, the more this whole process opens up, like a rosebud turning into a fragrant and open rose, the way the streaks of light across the sky explode into a golden sunrise…but it is a process, something that they learn together.
And I have to add, since I have been working with young adults for thirty years, they need us to help them – by being honest about all of this.  We need to help them understand the best lovemaking takes time.  It is selfless.  They may need to read a book or two, together, after they are married.  Okay, some may disagree with me, but I think reading books like THE MARRIAGE AC T or any of the other “how to” books should be saved until after they are married.  Why would you want to get them all aroused with no way to satisfy these desires?  That could be like torture.

Well, I have been thinking about this since last weekend when it came up in a conversation – are we helping our young people understand God’s design for marital intimacy or are we letting the world do its job of defining sex for them?  Certainly this is not the final treatise on the subject, but I think it has to be said, the door has to be opened to this conversation.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

So what says love to him?

You know how in Titus 2 it says that older women are to teach younger women to love their husbands; well, I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately.
It’s one thing to tell young women to love their husbands;  it is another thing to tell them how, and that is where I think the dating thing matters.  It takes a while to get to know someone, and if your relationship is based only on dating as a couple, and not spending time with your families as a couple, you miss a it.  And if your relationship is based on the kind of dates where you ski or go to movies or play video games (people do that, you know)  together, and never spend time with your families, especially during holidays, you miss opportunities to learn what says love to him.

Generally speaking, we learn much of what we know or feel about love from what we have observed, either wanting more of the same or knowing we don’t.  So, if you want to know what says love to him, watch how his mother loves his father.  That sets up certain expectations.  They have normalized certain behaviors for him.  And if he came from a bad environment, bad marital situations, you can still both learn what works and what doesn’t.
Certainly, as I said a couple of days ago, respect goes a long way toward showing him that you love him, but so does learning some recipes from his mother – even if you don’t personally like those particular dishes.  I am not fond of lima beans, but he grew up eating beans on a regular basis, and they speak comfort to him.  So, I make lima beans, and I don’t whine about it, and I have learned to enjoy them, in small quantities.  But I learned that by eating with him at his house…

My pastor tells the story about their first Christmas.  As a young pastor, he wanted to keep Christmas holy, not tainted by pagan Christmas trees.  It wasn’t until Christmas eve that he recognized how meaningful the tradition of Christmas trees was to his wife.  Believe it or not, he called the local hardware store owner, obviously not one of those big box stores, to get a Christmas stand, and trekked out in the cold and dark to search for a “Charley Brown” Christmas tree.  Somehow he missed this bit in their dating.
I guess it all boils down to this: if you want to know what says love to him, you can read all the books and listen to people like me, but you really have to, if it is at all possible, watch his parents interact.  Learn how they show love successfully, and build some of that into your life.  If you can’t watch them, just ask him what you can do to show him that you love him.  You may have to give him some suggestions – like asking him what his favorite dishes are, or whether he likes you sitting with him while he studies or works (you are just keeping him company here), or whether it is important that you iron his shirts. (You can learn to enjoy ironing by using that time to pray and by using that time thinking about what you love about him.)

 I don’t know what says love for him, but you need to find out.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Men aren't off the hook - loving her so she can't help but love you back!!

I remember feeling, as a young wife, that it was all on me –this marriage thing.  I was to take care of the house and the kids and myself, of course, and it seemed like the church never mentioned a husband’s responsibility.  And honestly, I fear I could count one hand the messages I have heard about the husband’s responsibility.
But in Ephesians 5 Paul says a lot about the husband’s role, kind of prefacing his remarks to husbands and summing them all up in verse 25: Husbands love your wives even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it…He develops the idea further in verses following:  28 So ought men to love their own wives as their own bodies……29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it even as the Lord the church.

Paul used the Greek word agape here for both the husband’s love and Christ’s love for the church.  We translate it love, but that sort of short circuits the meaning of the word. I fear the word love has become a cliché since we use it to say that we love pizza, we love the shore, we love chocolate.
Thayer’s lexicon says that, as it is used here, it has the sense of having a preference for, wish well to, regard the welfare of.  Furthermore it denotes to take pleasure in the thing, to prize it above other things, be unwilling to abandon or do without it.

Husbands are to so treat, and communicate with their wives, yes communicate, in such a way that she knows she is prized above other things,  that her husband is absolutely unwilling to do without her. And when you look further at the example of Christ’s love, husbands are to give themselves for their wives.
Wow, can you imagine how easy it would be to love and obey such a man? The kind who makes you feel that secure, that loved, that precious or valued?

My husband told me about a couple of professors he knew, from different schools, who so loved their wives, that they abandoned their careers for the time necessary to take care of ailing wives.  One woman was dying of cancer, the other became seriously incapacitated due to alzheimer’s disease.  These men could have passed on their care of their wives to their children or hired care-givers, but both lovingly, humbly took on even the meanest or most humbling roles, loving their wives to the end. 
The interesting thing is people observed in both men, after the homegoing of their wives, a change of their personality, to men of grace and compassion.  The men, both of them referred to how much they learned as they loved and served their wives as Christ loved the church.

I’m not saying that wives are off the hook if their husbands fall short here, but men, taking an active role in loving her as Christ loved the church will bring great dividends to your relationship.  I am thankful my husband is an Ephesians 5 kind of guy.

Oh, if your hubby hasn't, can't read this - read it to him and tell him I told you to.
 image is from

Monday, September 16, 2013

Wives are like God? Part 2

I still remember when I did my first Hebrew word study on Genesis 2:18.  That was before I had, so I used Wilson’s Word Studies – sort of like a dictionary of Hebrew words in the Old Testament where you could find the definition of a Hebrew word, where else it was used and how it was used.
Can you imagine how stunned I was to find that the word most often translated helpmeet or helper suitable is the Hebrew word ezer and carries the further meaning as helper, as one helps or succours  the needy and destitute? Then came the biggest surprise: the word is primarily used of God, describing Him as the helper of Israel.  To say I was stunned is putting it mildly! I decided that if I really wanted to understand this word, I needed to think through the idea of God as a helper.

 I think this role of helper is based on some presumptions, especially when you think of God as a helper.  The helper had to be astute and perceptive enough to identify what the need really is.  It assumes also that the helper can and does meet the need – think of these usages of the word, Deut. 33:26 “There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun who rideth upon the heaven in thy help   and in his excellency on the sky.” Or Psalm 121:2 “My help cometh from the LORD who made heaven and earth.” Or Psalm 146:5 “Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help whose hope is in the LORD his God.”
Do you get the point?  Too often I think wives have the idea of help meet meaning picking up his socks, and cleaning the house, and making meals, and it may include all of those things.  But I think, especially when you consider it as a descriptor of God, that it means a whole lot more.  I think it means that she is to know her husband so well that she recognizes what he needs and is able to meet that need (because God made her to do so).  

So what does that look like in real life? It means that she takes the time to read his face and his body language and know when he needs her to encourage him, whether he needs encouragement through her physical touch, words of affirmation, or patient listening.  I think it means she recognizes when she needs to create a quiet space for him, when she needs to put aside her desire to vent, in light of the pain or fatigue he is experiencing.
It may mean that she does things to help him in his job or ministry – like looking out for helpful articles or books that might be useful to him.  It may mean that she entertains people because he needs to do that or those relationships.  It must mean that she gives him the respect that he needs to push on through hard times and the security that she will never leave him nor forsake him, no matter what.

To be a helper to her husband, she must think through how God would or has helped us, for we are certainly needy.  Then she must be alert to what her husband might need, and minister to him out of pure unconditional love, like God does. 

All of this turned an entirely new light on what it means to be a helper, at least for me it did.
image from google images 

Friday, September 13, 2013

What women should know about husbands – or men in general! part 1

Last night I had the privilege of teaching the first of six classes to the Seminary wives, basically on people helping, and it was so exciting, like being back where I belong, doing what God made me to do…maybe it is that older woman teaching the younger woman thing.
Anyway, it struck me that this might be another good place to share some of what I have learned.  Some will be directly from the Bible, and some of it will be practical wisdom. 

Did you know that Paul (a man so he should know) admonishes  women to reverence or respect their husbands?  That Greek word phobeo has the sense of to fear or scare away and/or to reverence, venerate, to treat with deference or reverential obedience or respect.  Now, considering the whole counsel of God – women are to love their husbands and help them, does it make sense that she is to be afraid of him?  That doesn’t make sense to me – but the idea of respecting him, giving him honor does.

Meanwhile, back to the topic of respecting our husbands.  Shaunti Feldhahn  puts it this way in her book For Women Only: Three out of four men would rather feel unloved rather than disrespected or inadequate. (22)  If he feels disrespected, he feels unloved.  If you want him to know you love him, then you must be sure he feels your respect.  Often, we don't realize that our actions convey the opposite! (23)

So the question of the day is this: what do you do to show that you respect your husband, or other godly men in your life?  Do you encourage and build them up?  Do you find them doing something good, and commend them for it?  Do you use your words, your actions as a tool for good for him? Or to draw attention and praise for yourself…or worse yet, to show him how he has failed you?
I wonder what simply respecting our husbands might do to the current divorce rate….and singles, consider what God might want you to do with this information.  Certainly you can own it and allow it to inform your relationships, but you can also pass it on – to those in your lives who could benefit from it.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Yesterday, yes 9/11, was Jim's birthday, and today is a day of reflection for me.  We met on a youth group hayride – we were sixteen, and life has not been the same since.  Oh, we had our ups and downs, before and after we got married – we are still human, but it will have been fifty years this fall since we “started talking.”
I had in my mind some things I was looking for in a boyfriend/ husband back then, and those things are still important, starting with respect.  He had to be the kind of man I would respect.  Well, my Jim was a Boy Scout.  No!, the real thing – a Star Scout and Chief of the Order of the Arrow. (Boy Scout people will understand what that is.)  Honestly, he would probably have attained the rank of Eagle Scout if it hadn’t been for that hayride. 

He cared about people, and that was reflected in his election as president of the student body of his high school.  His leadership qualities showed themselves early on and that was important to me – not that he was president, we went to different high schools, but that he was a leader.  I knew I needed a leader.
I needed to feel confident that this man, with whom I would spend my life, would be able to take care of me – physically, emotionally, spiritually…well, you get the idea.  I needed to have confidence that I would be safe with him.  I know you may think this is a little late to mention, but he had to be a believer, someone who cared about God’s will for his life – and mine. He remembers me telling him, when we were first dating, that I was going to the mission field, and he could come too if he wanted.  You can see we talked about a lot of things.

I guess, as I think about all of this, I am concerned that young women today do not think about some of these issues as they date and marry.  I fear too many yield to the pressures they feel to be “in a relationship” that they don’t give serious thought to what it would be like to spend their entire lives with this one man. 
This morning someone posted the words of Isabel Allende on facebook: “Write what should not be forgotten.”  I’ve been thinking about it ever since I read it, and then considered – what are the words that should not be forgotten?  I think the words that we say, that we will love and honor, and for a lot of us, obey our husbands are pretty important words.  And we need to remind young women that you don’t stay married happily if you don’t first mean, and then live out those words. 

But today I just want to honor my husband – for being a man of God, my leader, the one who has loved me as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

She bit her tongue - a tribute!

Today is Peggy’s birthday, my older sister; she had probably had more human influence on my life than any other person.  She came to know Christ the same year I did, she through roommates at nursing school, me through a Child Evangelism Fellowship vacation Bible school.  The first weekend my sister could get away from school, she started it all, caring enough for my salvation that she took her earliest opportunity to tell me about Christ.  It happened that we said the “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayer at bedtime, and Peggy asked my mom if she could hear our prayers that night…and more than just hear our prayers is what she did.  She shared the gospel with my little sister and I, and I think was almost disappointed when I told her I had already done that – pray to receive Jesus as my Savior.
But she didn’t leave it at that.  When she graduated and returned home, she asked my parents if she could take is to the local Baptist Church in Towanda instead of the liberal church we had been attending.  They agreed.  What I came to see as “my church” had a program that if you memorized and recited 100 verses, you could go to camp free.  She challenged me to do it, and each Sunday we got there early to recite our verses.  I was ten years old, and we went to camp together that year.  It was that same year, in fifth grade, that I met my Sunday School teacher, Fred Gardner.  He asked us, for homework for Sunday School, to look up all the miracles in the book of John, and for the first time, I understood the Bible was fascinating and I could understand, at least some of, it.

It was because of her influence that I went to Baptist Bible College and God used her in many ways to encourage us (Jim and I), to support us, and even to direct us as we sought God’s will.  She provided a second home for our children when we went to candidate school as novice missionaries, and during those months of deputation, missionary service, furlough, etc., her home was a stabilizing influence and safe place for all of us.
She modeled loving God and living completely for Him. She lived out trusting God when circumstances disappointed or grieved. Funny the things you remember, I remember a conversation at her house, when someone – not me – brought up a certain person, not a godly person, and I watched her bit her tongue rather than enter into what was not a god-pleasing conversation – even though what she would have said was the truth.  The point is, it would not have been edifying.

As I think of her on this her 77th birthday, I am filled with gratitude for her life and the role she has played in mine, and I am challenged as I think about how I have lived out the legacy she gave me.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

There's something about the foamy surf!

Don’t you love divine coincidences?  The theme in my Bible reading has been what God could do in and through us, especially from John 14.  Did you ever have trouble with John 14:11-12: “Just believe that I am in the Father….Anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done”?  Yeah, like that is going to happen. How could I do anything at all like Christ did? Then Andrew Murray references John 10:110, “My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.”  So how come I feel like something is missing?  I am just being honest here.

Then this morning I was working on some original poetry, thinking about the shore and the waves, and it came to me that perhaps the problem with all of this is that we never step past the waves.  We wander around the edges of our faith, tipping our toes in when we think the water is warm and the waves are not too high or vigorous or filled with jellyfish, and we either get bored or we grow content in our lazy walk along the beach.
Then I started thinking about what Jesus did – that we could do similarly…He lived a life of such integrity that people wanted to hang out with Him.  He chose twelve, and let me tell you, they were a motley crew, and for the most part uneducated bunch, and His investment in their lives motivated them to turn the world upside down.

He prayed.  He placed, even as the Son of God, such importance on prayer that we see how He got up “a great while before day” to pray.  He invited them to watch and pray with Him, but we all know how that turned out.  Yes, He did turn water into wine, and fed thousands on little, but isn’t it possible that we could feed thousands, or even hundreds on little, if we adjusted where we put our money…and our other priorities.
It just dawned on me, that I just dismissed what God could do with me or through me, rather than contemplate how He could do it.  And it also occurred to me that if my life is not full, it is because I haven’t cleaned my glasses all that well.

The foamy surf

Like stepping on shore

The old hymn begins,

But I like stepping into

The waves, the water

That circumnavigates the globe

Making me one with all other


One with all those other travelers

Who have stepped, in trust, into he

Foamy waters, knowing there

Will come knock-down waves,

Sometimes sweeping you off

Your feet, tumbling you

Head first into the darkness,

Taking your breath away,

Until feeling the grit at the bottom

All the sharp edges of broken dreams,

Broken shells, and gasping, on the edge of

Losing hope, you find a hand under you,

Until you find yourself exploding through

The salty brine into the sunshine,

Filling your lungs with the breath of life.

I risk the waves, knowing although

Some might take me into fearsome places,

Too many more will lap at my feet,

Teasing me, whispering to me of the power

The majesty, the tsunami of Knowing,

Waiting, and finding Him

There in the foamy surf.

Anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

I just love it!

Studying the Bible, that is.  I cannot tell you how many times I have found myself deep in the throes of Bible study: my Thompson Chain and my Key Word Study Bibles open around me, blueletterbible .org open and a Word document or notebook at the ready, that I have been overwhelmed with this sense of peace and joy, and “this is what I loveness!”  (my new word)

Yesterday I was working on a study for the Seminary wives and it happened again, and I felt like a door had opened.  I have tried on a bunch of identities since I retired, and none fit all that well.  But I love this, studying with a purpose to share, and when it happened yesterday, I felt once more like the slowest kid in geometry, when the light suddenly dawned and I got it.
This is what I am supposed to be doing right now. Then, this morning, a former colleague and dear friend posted this:

Oh, I thought, that’s how it is.  In retirement, or at any change in life or location or condition, God doesn’t want anything new of us.  He is just giving us a new situation to continue being the person He has made us to be.

I was in the fifth grade when I was first asked to be the editor of the school newspaper.  I moved schools in sixth grade and was once again asked to be the editor of the school paper.  Basically, that meant I wrote editorials.  Writing has been in my blood ever since, and I realized yesterday, again that slow learning thing, that God just wants me to keep writing, and since I love the studying the Bible to write or teach about it, I should keep doing that.

So, this morning, after Jim left, when the news was over (I am a news junkie but that is another story), it was with anticipation that I returned to my home office, opened up Word and, opened up my Thompson Chain Bible, well, it was already open, but pulled out a drawer to make room for my Study Bible, and sat here with the greatest peace I think I have had since June 1.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

What difference do it make?

That’s the name of a book written by Ron Hall, Denver Moore and Lynn Vincent that I just finished.  It is the sequel to Same Kind of Different as Me and both have at the heart, change, reconciliation, an understanding of what it really means to love one another.  Oh and this is all true - these are both nonfiction books.

 Ron Hall is a wealthy art dealer and Denver Moore was born little more than a slave.  Ron’s wife, Deborah brings them together and is the agent of change that God uses to help both men learn to accept and even love the other. And you must understand, this is not a happy ever after book – God honors Deborah’s life through her death from cancer, using her testimony long after she is home with the Father.

I am struggling.  There are no two ways about it.  This retirement is not for sissies.  As I shared with some family members yesterday, three months ago, I had a job, a title, and direction for each day.  My life was filled with people I could serve; after all, I was in ministry, and that is all I wanted since I was 15.  The issue is that now the responsibility is on my shoulders more than ever, to find a way to continue to minister…and to be satisfied with whatever shape that might take.

Denver Moore ministered at Union Gospel Mission in Texas, and eventually Ron Hall came to understand and embrace that same ministry.  Oh, he still bought and sold fine works of art.  He and Denver continued, until God also took Denver home, to speak all over the country, but they came to understand what it really means  - to love one another, and to not have respect of persons.  Have you ever thought about what it might mean to be on the receiving end of someone’s charity, to feel less than, pitied, even judged?   How many of us almost instinctively assume people are in poverty by their own choices – because we pulled ourselves up by our own bootstraps?

For me, one thing I am wrestling with, is what does it mean to really love one another, to love God?  What does it mean to love totally unconditionally – to see beyond the outward appearance to the heart beneath?  I admit and hate that part of me that smells alcohol and is immediately filled with repulsion ( and there is a story behind that).  I hate that part of me that hears certain language and makes judgments, just as I do when I might see a young woman or man in really skinny jeans…or a woman in low cut shirts.  My first thought is, I admit, “Don’t they know better?” when it should instead be concern for them, what kind of way can I love them so they know they are loved, not condemned? So my message of Christ could really be believed?

I am rambling, but I think that is a good thing.  A book should make us think, reflect, and perhaps be a mirror through which God can work.