What do you mean we’re going to sleep in the same bed?????

cold feet

Cuddle with me so that I can put my freezing cold feet on you, and probably use you as a pillow, and steal all your covers.

The wedding was beautiful; everything I could have ever dreamed of. From the perfectly fitted wedding dress and gorgeous bridesmaids to the handsome tux-attired groom and his attendants; a perfect day. The honeymoon was just as perfect as we held hands over candle lit dinners then returned to our room to cuddle and snuggle. And then it was time to go home and start our new life together.

Now, I am a pretty independent person and that independence carries right through to my sleeping habits. I like to have my own space. At any given time I will be snuggled up with two body pillows (one for my knees and one for my back), as well as a standard pillow for my head. I like my covers wrapped around me a certain way with one foot sticking out at all times. You can imagine my disdain at having to share my bed space with someone who had their own idea of personal property rights!

Ah, the struggles that we have had over who was taking all the covers and, “Don’t touch my toes when I’m sleeping!” For years I was determined to have separate beds, but that is one battle I am glad I lost. I remember lying in bed with my hubby’s hand on my tummy as we felt the baby we were never supposed to be able to have, move. I remember intentionally cuddling so that he could feel the kicks at night. I remember holding him close to comfort him when his Dad passed away. We were sleeping the night we got the call that our son had been critically injured in Kuwait and was being flown to Germany. My husband held me there in our bed as I cried. And I remember how lonely I was while Jim was in the hospital having surgery for prostate cancer, I prayed that he would come back home to our bed.

Joining as one person is more than sleeping in the same bed . “And the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.” Mark 10. Becoming one person involves the sexual intimacy of marriage as well as the day – to – day activity of life.

One flesh. Two people blending together so well that they are thought of as one. I’m sure glad that God’s got this one, because it is way beyond my comprehension! At least that is what I thought when we first married.

Growing in marriage is much like progressing from baby to adult. We face many of the same stages:

  • Baby Stage: This is what I will call the Peaceful Stage. I smile at the anticipation of seeing my loved one’s face; knowing that no discomfort we face will last forever, because I expect that my loved one will always take care of my needs; not concerned with being myself, because we are now one.
  • Toddling Stage: I start to think that maybe I don’t want to be exactly the same as my partner. I want to explore on my own and live my own life, but with the knowledge that when I fall, my loved one will be there to pick me up.
  • Teen Stage: I really don’t want you to pick me up! I want to be independent and be myself, but I like knowing that you are there; just don’t stand too close.
  • Adult Stage: I can’t imagine my life without him, flaws and all. Til death do us part.

The advice I give all couples when I counsel with them before marriage is to accept each other for who they are and don’t go in to marriage with the idea of changing them. God made each of us unique and I love the qualities God gave my husband. Do I get aggravated when I have to bring the coffee cups from the garage to the house? Sure, but it’s not marriage – breaking. There is so much to marriage then the daily. The world tries to get us to focus on the nit-picky things, but let me tell you, my dear friends, life is always going to be nit – picky and it’s time we started enjoying and loving the good.

Marriage is for better or worse. The well – known vows taken originally from the Book of Common Prayer[1] go something like this, “for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, til death do us part.” Wedding vows have changed over the years, but I still remember saying these words at my wedding. Over the years I have felt at times that we were going through the worst, only to find down the road that it can get even worse than that! But I have also found that it gets better and the bad times do not overshadow the good.

When we were first married we struggled with finances. I worked as a waitress at Howard Johnson’s and my tips often what bought our gas and groceries. My hubby had a good job that paid all of $85 a week. We had no insurance so we were devastated with hospital bills within the first year when I miscarried our first son. It was tough! But when you are newly married, it doesn’t matter. We had no stove, but I cooked pinto beans in the wedding present crockpot and made fried taters in the wedding present electric skillet. I am going to interject a word of advice here, do not try to cook spaghetti in a crock pot! It was so tough the dog wouldn’t even eat it!

But we had love. And the second year of our marriage we moved north to look for better financial opportunities. Jim went to truck driving school and when he landed a job with Pepsi Cola and made $25,000 that first year we thought we were rich!

Sickness takes its toll on a marriage, whether the man, woman or the children. Jim’s diagnosis of prostate cancer came as we were preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving Dinner with the family. The phone call rocked us, but we held tight to each other. Eight cancer-free years later, we are facing another health challenge and I’m afraid our closeness is being challenged.

In November, Jim was helping load wood from a tree that had blown down in our yard. He pulled his back, but that was nothing new, he had bounced back from back pain many times before. Over the next few days, the pain got increasingly worse and we ended up in the emergency room where he was given a prescription for a steroid and a low dose pain killer. We thought everything would be ok in a few days. Three months and two hospital terms later, we are still fighting the pain. He developed pneumonia and blood clots in both lungs and is still not able to walk due to the pain in his leg from the herniated disc.

To say that this has been easy would be a lie. Jim is my strong tower, but the pain and the medication he is on has taken much of his strength away. He feels that he has nothing to live for and that he has become a burden to me, our children, and his friends. That is the hard part for me. It hurts to the core of my being to see him this hopeless. I can encourage him, but I can’t do it for him. At times he does reach for his Bible and devotion book and read and it always helps. But then there are the times that the depression takes over and I feel like I need to watch every move he makes so that he doesn’t harm himself.

We will get through this and we will have a stronger marriage for having gone through it. Jim’s faith in God is stronger now than it ever has been; he has seen how God has directed our every path in this and has taken care of oh so many financial needs. God has brought witness of Jim’s testimony to him for encouragement and has provided in ways that we would never have thought. This, my dear friend, is marriage. Depression, sickness, and financial troubles are the effects of living in a sinful world. But when the two of you trust in the One who made the world, and give all of it over to Him, you will grow as one just as God designed. When my brother married I told him to remember that marriage takes three. His reply, “I’m not sure my wife will agree to that!” gave me the opening to share that the third party to that marriage is God. Without Him, there is no substance to the unity of man and woman.

Learning to sleep in the same bed, cook foods that both of you like, and living life to please another are all a part of marriage. My advice to my children, and now my grandchildren, is to marry your best friend and expect the bumps in that friendship to help you pull together.

 

Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years.

Simone Signoret

[1] http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/1549/BCP_1549.htm

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Where are my glasses, I need to take a bath!

Top-10-Images-of-Animals-Wearing-Glasses-10“A voice said, “Shout!” I asked, “What should I shout?” “Shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field.” Isaiah 40:6

I have learned that my glasses cannot be too far from me when I take a shower. At any given time, I have washed my hair in body lotion and my face with conditioner. You should have seen the frantic rinse the day I realized I had conditioned my hair with a popular ladies hair remover! And, of course, my husband had to be standing next to me the day we were getting ready for church when I sprayed hair spray under my arm and put deodorant on my hair! The look on his face was priceless as he shook his head and went to start the car.

My adventures with “aging eyes” is nothing compared to an experience our pastor told us about, though. He and his family were out to eat at a local restaurant and, being the friendly fellow that he is, he returned a wave from someone across the room. When his wife asked who he was waving to he replied, “Well, I don’t know, but they waved first!” The family turned to see who it was, but then slowly turned back around to see Dad with his hand still waving. They looked at each other and one brave child had to say it, “Dad, that’s not a person waving to you. It’s a cactus.”

Aging eyesight. If you haven’t faced it yet, get ready. I don’t know why the manufacturers use the same marketing techniques to get sales and make all the bottles the same shape and color, don’t they know we usually don’t wear glasses when we shower or bathe? If they could only put a bright red dot on the conditioner and the deodorant, maybe I could remember the difference without looking. Or maybe not.

I guess I was in my mid to late 40’s when my near vision started becoming problematic. I ignored it for as long as I could, but when I had to ask Jim to hold the menu so I could order, I knew I needed reading glasses. Over the years, my eyes have succumbed to aging and now I have to wear the dreaded glasses all the time. If I didn’t, not only would I need help with the menu, but my whole plate would disappear into a fog of nothingness.

So, wear glasses I do. However, I make adjustments. While I was still working I made sure that I had black rimmed, professional glasses that everyone thought were fake. They thought that I wore them to get intelligence points, and I just let them think it. I would show up at regional meetings and while the Director was filling us in on the most recent project, I would take my glasses off, stick just a little bit of the ear piece between my lips and sit there and nod intelligently. “Yes, yes, I am super – smart and I am hanging on every word.” Little did they know that I couldn’t even SEE the Director let alone the chart I am assuming he was pointing to!

Isn’t it amazing the lengths we will go to for vanity? When I was fifty, and people said I looked thirty – five, I would smile smugly and say, “Oh, I’m fifty years old and proud of every year.” Well, now I’m starting to look my real age, time has a way of doing that, and I crave to hear people tell me that I look so much younger. I caught a glimpse of myself in a candid side-shot photo that I took of my hubby and me when we were working on  one of his odd-jobs and I almost cried. It had been raining so my curly, gray hair had frizzed around my temples and I had that stern “Grandma face” because I was concentrating on holding up the screen door we were installing. I had to look twice because I couldn’t believe it was me with the frizzy gray hair and sallow complexion. And when did I get that extra chin? I went into a slight depression and pouted most of the rest of the day.

That evening my hubby looked at me as we sat on the porch and said, “You know, I don’t know how you do it, but you are more beautiful than the day we married.” I couldn’t help but think of the saying I had heard somewhere to “marry a man your own age; that way as your beauty fades, so does his eyesight!” But then, I realized that he had his glasses on and was looking at the same side-shot view of me as the photo taken earlier in the day. But he didn’t see what I saw. What he saw was his bride; the love of his life, and I thanked God.

I know that in the world’s eyes, my beauty is fading. But I smile, because in my husband’s eyes, I am beautiful. In God’s eyes, I am his princess. And in my own eyes, I am blessed to have lived as long as I have.  These are days that God has made just for me, and I will not waste them by counting the spring rolls around my waist.

God has given each of us a certain number of days to live on earth. I feel that as I mature in chronological years, I also mature in spiritual years. The lessons I learn by looking into a mirror can be summed up in this statement from 1 Corinthians 13:12, “ For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”  My Friends, the years that God has given to each of us, are written line by line. They may be lines of worry or lines of peace; lines of sorrow or lines of peace; lines of anger or lines of peace. God gives each of us the ability to partake of His bountiful peace. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3. And there is nothing wrong with having a few wrinkles on our faces, they show that we have laughed, cried, frowned, and lived all in one lifetime. We can trust in God and He will soften the lines.

Aging gracefully is not an easy task. Just like accepting that I needed to wear glasses, I fought it tooth and nail! But, at that time, I was looking in the mirror dimly. I was placing value on what I look like on the outside, not what God saw on the inside. Face to face. With God. Cleared my vision. God knows me, and I am starting to know me, too. I have opened my eyes to the fact that vision is so much more than what I see in this world. I have asked God to increase the vision that He wants me to have in these latter years of my life. I want to see opportunity in what I would previously have seen as rejection. I want to take each failed plan as God showing me that He has something much more planned than I could ever have seen without Him. I want to see reason behind a friendship that has gone cold. I want to see positive where there is negative. And if I do all of this, then I can’t help but be satisfied with the image that I see in my mirror. I will no longer use my age as an excuse to be sullen and sad, but will glorify God in living the fullness of every day that He has given me.

Before I look in the mirror, I will put on my “grace glasses”. I will not see frizzy gray hair, but I will see wisdom highlights. I will remember that the secret to aging gracefully is to enjoy it.

 

Cotton – candy promises

cottoncandymedThen the Rabshakeh stood and called out in a loud voice in the language of Judah: “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you out of my hand.  Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord by saying, The Lord will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make your peace with me and come out to me. Then each one of you will eat of his own vine, and each one of his own fig tree, and each one of you will drink the water of his own cistern, until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, that you may live, and not die. And do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you by saying, “The Lord will deliver us.”

2 Kings 18: 28 – 32

Ah, the promises of the world around us. The fleeting, disappearing promises of the world. Just like cotton candy, these promises disappear at the first hint of rain. We wrap our lives around the artificial sweetness of the world, layer upon layer of lies and empty promises. And then wonder where it went when the waters of life come.

And it is no different now than it was when Hezekiah was  leading the people of Judah to follow the one true God. The world (Satan) will put things in front of us that fit with our idea of comfort and stability. He will reach watch us and wait until he sees a weakness, a gap, where we have not altogether turned our lives over to God and he will pounce with a fierceness that we won’t even know what hit us until it’s too late.

Let’s look at Satan’s “promises” in the opening verses and see how many of them appeal to us.

  • “I can keep you safe from all your enemies.”  Satan plays on fear and anxiety, distrust and self – sufficiency. He will instill these emotions into our lives by pointing out the weaknesses in our leaders: in the churches, communities, families, government, and especially our homes. He will cause us to look at the failures, and we all have them, rather than the good that has been done through leaning on God. Just like in the Garden of Eden, Satan strives to bring doubt to our minds about God’s sovereignty and power. “Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make your peace with me and come out to me.”  But Satan can be brought down in this one thing. By pointing out the weaknesses in people, no matter what their rank in our lives, he is encouraging us to look to God and to trust in Him and the Word that He has GIVEN to these leaders. We should always rightly align God’s preached word with His written Word – the Bible.
  • “I will provide for your every want.” “Then each of you will eat of his won vine, and each one of his own fig tree, and each one of you will drink the water of his own cistern.” Satan encourages “self.” Pride, annoyance with sharing, and fear of losing hold of life’s possessions are some of the tactics he uses to become greedy in holding on to what we own and not letting go. He promises that whatever you want in this life can be yours if you just kick the other person out of the way and grab it. Our families are splitting apart because fathers, and mothers, are working twelve to fourteen hours a day to “provide” for their families. Children are being raised in nurseries, preschools, and day cares from the time they are six months old and younger! And most of these are either public owned institutions where the Word of God is forbidden or private owned schools where the Word is limited to a denominational view. Where are the hugs and kisses of an involved Mommy when a child needs them? Love is not the issue; how we interpret that love is. Many mother’s must work outside of the home, but we must choose what is the better good for our children and spouse. And, please, don’t get me wrong, I know it is a tough world out there and money is not easy to come by. But there has to be a priority set. We must not let Satan determine what we “need.” God has designed the family to fill our every need. And it is not just the mother’s who are falling into the trap of living for their work, fathers are, too, if not more so. Gotta climb that ladder, gotta spend more time entertaining the client, gotta spend more hours at work. In my book, Submission is NOT a Four – letter Word, I wrote “God designed men to be the strong disciplinarians in the family and the reward is seeing their children grow up strong in the Lord and in their roles as men and women. Once grown, these adult children become accountable to God and His discipline….both men and women have the characteristics of God, but discipline of the children, the man is the strong one. The woman administers the rules of the house and disciplines to keep order, but it would take away from the woman another characteristic of God if she was the primary rule – setter and disciplinarian: that characteristic is nurturing the children.”  Where are our children going to see God’s plan for the family if we refuse to let go of our wants and put them first.
  • “I will make you rich.” Ah, we’ve all had the dream of living the “good life.” Plenty of “grain and wine; bread and vineyards; olive trees and honey; that we may live and not die. Back to the Garden of Eden and Satan’s first attack on the family. “But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it (the Tree of Knowledge), your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  We are encouraged to “live for the world.” Don’t hurt anyone’s feelings, let me live life on my terms, make my own decisions on what is good and what is evil. And the world promises that if we do this, we will have wealth and prosperity. God says in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  In the world, we desire wealth, fame, fortune. In God, we desire an honest life, a true family, and righteousness. God will replace the worldly, destructive desires we have in following Satan, with healing, rich desires for living a Christ – like life.

We are called to be strong in the Lord and His way; not our way. We are called to live life following His Word as our fulfillment, not the cotton candy sweetness that Satan uses to appeal to our earthly comforts. We are to give up the artificial sweetener of the world and feast on the honey of God.

 

Thirty Days of Prayer for My Pastor – Day 13

family_1

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Matthew 6:25 – 33

Lord, I know that a worker is worthy of his hire, Your Word affirms that. And my desire is that our pastor would always have what he needs to support his family. I also know that times are tough on everyone and that sometimes we scrimp on what we should not scrimp on – our tithe. You told us to bring all that we have into the storehouse to take care of Your faithful servants and that You would bless us over and above. But, Lord, that is no reason to give.

Out of the fullness of my life, Father God, I give my tithe into your storehouse, not because I want to be blessed, but because I want to be a blessing to others. I want there to never be a gap in the needs of our pastor and his family. Lord, I know that it is hard to go around and visit all the people that he does so willingly. I also know that it is hard on his vehicle. Could you please provide him with what he needs in order to continue his travels in ministering to those You have given to him?

And, Lord, medical insurance is not good right now. What coverage people has is often a sacrifice in pay. Could I also ask You to not only bless our pastor and his family with good health, but to also provide the finances for the medical care when they need it? I love You, Lord, and I know that You don’t want our pastor to have his focus on these things, so I am asking that You take good care of him and his family.

And, Father, ease our pastor’s mind about the concerns of caring for his family and his home. Remind him that we have his back, Lord, and we are going to always lift him and his needs up to You for your provision so that he can continue to seek Your kingdom first.

Thank You, Lord, for taking good care of our pastor and his family. In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

From Self-esteem to God-esteem

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