Tuesday, November 07, 2006

My Fiery Furnace is not as hot as some

Our home fellowship is doing a Beth Moore study on the book of Daniel. . . POWERFUL!!!

Regarding Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. . .

King "Nebby" had ordered that they be thrown into the fiery furnace, Daniel 3:13 - 18 Beth Moore stops here to talk about how perhaps we might be facing a fiery furnace of some type in our own lives.

She uses the example (speaking to ladies here) that perhaps we find a lump and the doctors say it is malignant. She says: "Consider three different scenarios of which people of God will face in their fiery trial.

One of three things can or will happen:

Scenario A: Pray for healing; for a miracle. Go to the doctors and find that the lump is gone!!!

Through this season we find that we can be delivered from the fire. The dividend is. . . our faith is built.

As with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, they were delivered from the fire.

Scenario B: Because the lump is malignant, necessary steps will have to be taken, i.e. surgery, chemo, etc. We find that we can be delivered through the fire. John 11:4 says, that "it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." We are all gonna have to go through the fire somehow, some way. But God will be glorified.

In Isaiah 43, it says " Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have summoned you by name; you are mine . . . I will be with you. . . When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze."

1 Peter 1:6,7 says: "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."

So the end result? Our faith is refined!

Scenario C: Modern medicine will not work. Jesus will be calling you home. Beth says this is what we SHOULD be attaining for. But we in our flesh struggle with taking off the coat and leaving it behind.

But what happens in death is that we can be delivered by the fire. Hebrews 12:1, 2 says "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Christ is the Author and Perfector of our faith.

The dividend? Our faith is perfected. "The last enemy to be destroyed is death." 1Cor 15:26. And James 1:12 says; "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." And through this season "that what has happened. . . has really served to advance the gospel." (Phil 1:12)

If we look back at Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, they had been tied up and thrown in. But afterward, "Nebby" saw them walking "unbound!" The only thing that was flammable were their "ropes" So she was saying that "God will allow us to go through the "fiery furnace" to allow the areas of our lives that we are bind us(ropes), to be burned off of us.

That was so profound to me. AMAZING!!!

So afterwards, a lovely couple in their 60's shared that they are going through "Scenario B."

Donna has been diagnosed with breast cancer and through prayer with her husband, Larry and prayer family, she has opted against traditional medicine, including surgery.

She has chosen death, if that is what the Lord has for her.

Let's just say, not a word was spoken, not a breath breathed!

But they KNOW that God has called them to this journey and they believe that God has healed Donna. In the meantime, she has work to do. Three women she knows have been diagnosed with breast cancer in the same week! God is using her to encourage them. She is also seeing a naturopath and the lump is shrinking.

What a lovely couple.

I went to Bible study feeling very discouraged about some very small trials that occurred this evening, but I left there "encouraged" and strengthened.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Obsessive Thoughts and A Horse

I need to go to bed, but wanted to jot down my day. . .

Getting older is so hard. Obsessing over things I can’t control. I wish I could. But it seems that even the littlest of things send me to spiral in my mind. . . a bruise, graying hair, an age spot (which thank you Lord, I do not have!)

I know I’ve injured my right middle knuckle somehow this week, but can’t figure out how I did. But when I make a fist, it looks a bit different.

I surrendered my feelings and thought I was over it until last night when it was pretty apparent that my mood had changed. As my son described it, he said I turned “emo.” I thought it was great insight on his part.

Moment by moment today, I had to push the feeling to obsess aside, so that my 12 year old daughter and I could hunt down a dress for a “Father/Daughter” date night at our church.

Here she is. . . battling a severe asthma this week, another round of steroids to open her up, plus dealing with regulating her thyroid and rarely does she complain, let alone obsess. Yet, Thursday night, after a night at Red Robin for her birthday, I hear her in her room, turning on her nebulizer to give herself a treatment. Pobrecita, mija.

So I have to put my own battle aside and spend some time with her. It was fun. We found several dresses, which we bought and would make the final decision at home.
Of course, I thought she looked beautiful. And I think she felt the same. Its hard being twelve sometimes, but not tonight.

So what to do with the twins.

They were voicing their opinions on not being invited on this date, too. So I knew I had to find a way to spend time with them that would take their minds off of being jealous of Maria. 

Go to a movie! But what’s playing? Oh I hope there a kid friendly movie out there.

Yes! “Flicka!” I do a quick time check and then check the reviews. . . like it would really matter. As long as it’s PG, is what I am thinking, who cares about reviews?!

So I invite my young friend, Nichole to go with us. Her husband was at the Father Daughter thing helping out.

My son Doug wants no part of seeing Flicka, so he decides to go see “The Prestege.”

Flicka was a little more than I bargained for. Sure, Tim McGraw is in it. I have no idea who he is aside from seeing his face on just about every magazine at the checkout with his wife Faith Hill. I’ve never heard his music . . . I didn’t even know he was an actor!

There were some cheesy moments here and there. But Alison Lohman who plays “Katy” is believable, especially in the way she builds her trust with Flicka.

One of the reviews was right. . . it said to bring tissue. I was not expecting to be “verklempt” at all. But not only I, but a good portion of the audience needed tissue. Nichole and I laughed afterwards, we both thought we going to see a nice little “horsey” movie with the twins.

There was an adorable little girl next to Sophie and I (Lucy sat with Nichole behind us), who could not be consoled. She looked to be about 4ish and she totally understood what was going on and cried more than anybody there. I felt so sorry for her. But it was cute.
Of course, when she was able to see how the story was moving along, she began to feel better.

It was fun to sit with at least one of my baby girls and enjoy this time with her. She and Lucy love horses. If they could, they would love to have their own horse. During the ending credits, there are multiple snapshots of girls with their horses and I was hoping the twins would not try to hit me up for a horse. I was thankful that they were just happy to have seen the movie.

The date night was a success! Maria is happy and tucked into bed. Hubby is back at his “second life,” twins are in bed reading and I am trying not to obsess over my hand. God is good though, He knows my every thought. This morning’s time with Him, in Isaiah. . . I read,

“Let the people renew their strength!. . .
Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. . .
For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand,
Saying to you, 'Fear not, I will help you.'
Isaiah 41: 1, 10, 13

Amazing read! I had not planned to read this chapter, it’s just where I am. I am reminded that He hears me! And that even though my right hand is somewhat in pain or looking a bit unusual (to me and only me), that I have nothing to fear. I am renewed, strengthen and held up with the “Right hand” of the One who calms my anxious heart.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

There is Power

As I am driving away from our church's "Women's Breakfast yesterday," I say out loud, "Lord, I don't know why I am in awe of You. I should not be surprised by Your wonder."

Since being asked (a month ago) to lead the worship for this event, so many things came up and then there has a been the "down time."

And as I journaled in my previous blog, this week had been hectic. But I felt a peace that the worship would be alright. A friend told me a few days before that as a result of this week's craziness, He will be glorified through the music, He will be take over and the music will flow from me and my friends and will touch the many ladies attending.

How the Lord works it all out. . .

I didn't have time to ask my one friend to play percussion, but the Lord took care of it. . . she called me 2 days before the breakfast to let me know she would play. And my other friend was available to sing backup . . . as long as she knew the songs, that is. . . amazing. . . she did!!

The day of the breakfast. . .

I am not a guitar player by any means, but I am lead to play and use it in my worship. And I believe God is gracious to shield the ears of those who can tell the difference between good playing and bad. :-)

Trying to get 60+ ladies to stop talking can be a challenge. If you call them to attention, the majority may turn towards your voice, but you'll still have some stragglers (such as myself) who continue to talk. I understand!!! But a few strums will!

Even though I love to sing, sometimes I can get mixed up if I am playing and singing, so having someone else sing, I can go in and out and sing as I am lead to. I love to hear women singing, especially when they are in harmony.

I begin with "O My Redeemer." "I will praise you, O My Redeemer, repeat, For You are worthy, repeat, but this time I don't sing, instead I hear the most beautiful harmonies coming from these sweet ladies. . . my friend leading worship with me turned to me and smiled. . . she knew what I was thinking. :-) My heart begins to take off into worship.

I knew this worship time would be amazing. . .

I move on to "Hungry." As I get through "I'm falling on my knees, offering all of me," I notice one of my dear friends weeping. I am touched. I know that the Lord is touching her heart.

Moving through the songs, I notice there are others who are wiping their tears. Inside, I know that God has been glorified. I am thankful that I was used as His vessel and able to witness this beautiful moment.

I also realize when it is all over that I cannot take any credit. But I am reminded of the multiple ways of God faithfulness to those in the Word who lacked in ability, but proceeded anyway knowing they had the power of the Holy Spirit with them.

And that is what I saw yesterday. . . His power.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Unfailing Love

What a week this has been. . .

Friend in hospital. . . driving a 1/2 hour away to her house a few times, to try to get it cleaned up for her, so when she comes home she will be comfortable and can concentrate on healing.

School. . . getting the kids there and back. Homework. . . what homework? Piano lesson, guitar lesson, drum lesson.

Wednesday. . . oldest daughter. . . asthma treatments all day. . . not doing well. Go to school potluck that night. Leave early to head off to ER to get her taken care of with steroids. But leaving the hospital she still is not feeling well. Wondering. . . Contemplating. . . should I have taken her to Children's? Does she need to be hospitalized? Why this week? Her birthday party Friday? That will break her heart.

Thursday . . . still not feeling better. . . back to the doctors. . . another round of steroids. . . FINALLY!!! She is back to normal. . . onto the next thing. . .

Friend in hospital. . . I make my way to meet w/physicians to go over rehab plan.

Friend in hospial's father, who doesn't believe in God, says to his daughter that he has to accept that there is a God in Heaven because of the circumstances surrounding her situation. He is a history teacher and taught in England for 15 years for Univ. of Maryland. AMAZING!

Try to leave hospital and beat traffic back home, take twins to babysitter. . . come back home, pick up oldest son . . . head off to Overlake Christian for Superchic[k] show.

At the show. . . John Reuben, Santus Real, Last Tuesday. . . I don't know. . . it could have been my exhaustion. . . but I just wasn't into it. . . Superchic[k] was okay, but I guess I expected more.

Friday. . . oldest daughter's birthday party / sleep over. House is in need of an overhaul. . . not enough time, but it all works out.

Everyone is having a good time. . . I leave to pick up cake and ice cream . . . friend in hospital calls and is hesterical. . . insurance won't pay for extra days in hospital . . . personal issues, not medical. . . Calming her down is of utmost importance. . . don't want her sternum to open. . . Albertson's . . . cake decorator writing name on my daughter's cake. . . I pray with my friend as I wait by the donut case. . . Finally she is calm. . . onto the next thing. . .

Oldest daughter falls in our redone backyard. . . I'm thinking she is overwhelmed by all the attention. . . Finally she is back to herself. . .

NOW. . . I can sit down and prepare for worship tomorrow. . . Women's Breakfast. . . Topic. . . CONTENTMENT.

What songs to do. . . I don't know.

Songs come together. . . it's all coming together.

Need one more. . . searching. . . then I find what I am looking for. . . .

"You have my heart, and I am Yours forever
You are my strength, God of grace and power
And everything You hold in Your hand
Still You make time for me
I can't understand
Praise You God of Earth and sky How beautiful is Your unfailing love
Unfailing love And You never change God You remain
The Holy One
My unfailing love, Unfailing love

You are my rock, the one I hold on to
You are my song, and I sing for You "
Unfailing Love by Chris Tomlin

After all has been said and done. . . I am reminded of Who holds me up.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

I learned the truth AT SEVENTEEN. . . no 45

I wanted to be in our school's talent show so bad, but I had to be a Junior, Senior or a gifted Sophomore in order to sing a solo. I was a Sophomore and I believed I was "gifted." So I took the plunge, stepped out and signed up for "tryouts."

Mr. Reed looked so much like Richard Dreyfuss' from "Mr. Holland's Opus," but these were vocal classes he taught at Palm Springs High, not band as Mr. Holland taught. He was very much the same type of personality; everything was done to the letter. Performing; guys in black pants, white shirts. Girls, hair pulled back, no earrings, only posts. . . shoes. . . beige pumps. YUCK! This was before pumps were in 5 years later in the 80's.

Mr. Reed had very high standards for his singers. Only the best would do or the very popular. But I would give it shot anyway.

He asked me if I was sure I wanted to do this even though I was only a Sophomore and didn't have anyone to accompany me. I was sure. I would sing my song "a cappella."

I figured Janis Ians' "At Seventeen" would show off my vocal skills and belt singing. It described how I felt about the world, even though I was only 15. But I was just like Janis' song described, who saw the world as meant for "beauty queens" with "clear skinned smiles."

Oh yes, I sang my heart out and loud;
"And those of us with ravaged facesLacking in the social gracesDesperately remained at homeInventing lovers on the phoneWho called to say come dance with meAnd murmured vague obscenitiesIt isn't all it seemsAt seventeen"

I threw my heart into that song. I knew I had done a good job. But I didn't get chosen to do a solo. I would have to be content with being one of the singers. But inside, it affected me more than I let on, even to myself.

Aside from other teenage growing pains, I became more and more detached from school, even choir, which was the very reason I even went to school.

Junior year, the talent show came and went.
Senior year, another talent show. I was more and more absent from school, but I showed up to choir. I couldn't bring myself to tryout again. The only redeeming thing about the talent show this year would be that we'd be performing Earth, Wind & Fire's "Fantasy." I loved that song.

I had no idea who was doing solos, nor did I care. Until I saw 2 of the most popular girls, Renee and Linda, doing MY SONG!!!! They were terrible! They were so quiet, they could hardly be heard. No feeling, no passion, just notes and words. I was crushed!

That was 27 years ago!!! Wow!

I sing today, but never have I ever had to audition for anything. I've either been invited to sing, record or lead women's worship or choral stuff, which I totally love.

But today . . . I auditioned.

I auditioned to see if I could do it. To prove to myself that I could get up in front of a group, a part from church or choral people.

It wasn't important for me to win the audition. The winning, for me would be in stepping out.

Our local Christian radio station, Spirit 105.3 held these auditions, for a charity a local mall has every year and Spirit provides local entertainment to kick off the Christmas Season.

Let me first say that, the selection was pretty minimal. Young and old-er, who sang okay, but in my opinion were very courageous to even get up on stage and sing with and without music. And then there were some groups and one choir that needed to continue in their musical training.

But there were a handful that was very, very good.

Inside. . . I knew I didn't really have anything to worry about, because I didn't really care if I was chosen as a performer or not. With that in mind, I knew first impressions are everything, so my clothes had to make a statement. Song: pick a holiday song, but one that will get the audience involved, clapping, etc.
I chose "Let's Make a Baby King" recorded by Wynonna, but I prefer "New Grass Revival's soulful, bluegrassy version.

My friend, Jessie, her husband, Paul and daughter Ashley gave me tips on keeping the audience "awake." As well as body movement and singing tips. Keeping all what they told me in mind, I gave it my all for that 1:30 sec audition.

Trying not to lose focus, I can't help but notice first that my voice was a lot stronger than everyone else who had auditioned to that point. As I am trying to concentrate, I notice people in the mall turning around to see who was singing. Then I notice people smiling and clapping their hands.

I feel a little more confident and let go a little more, allowing my head to turn in rhythm to the music, but with that, my mouth moves away from the mike. . . no longer being heard. . . I turned back. Jessie is relieved!!! Whew!

The smile on sound guy's face says it all. As I end, I get a pretty solid applause and Mike Tedesco of Spirit says to me, "That was a great job." He hadn't said anything like that to anyone else at that point. I felt very satisfied and proud.

What a feeling as many of the other singers had paid me the same compliments. Jamilla, a lovely young mother, whose voice was incredible as she sang a Rachel Lampa tune, told me her husband said that I had my "groove on." I told her that I wish I could sing like her.

A few minutes later, a man carrying a professional video camera, looking very serious comes up to me, asks me what church I attend, then proceeds to give me a card. I see it has the call letters to the local TBN station. He then tells me that I would be perfect for their "Praise the Lord" show here in Seattle and to call the station to make an appt.

Funny. . . I wasn't gushing. I was excited, but not elated. I, of course shared the news with my friends, but was more satisfied with my accomplishment of stepping out.

Do I believe I've won a spot to sing at this event? Jessilyn thinks I have, but I don't really care too much. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Had I proven this old point to myself?

I think from the moment I belted out the first note, I no longer had a point to prove. Inside I knew that I could always do it. I am talented and have been given multiple opportunities to show off that talent.

I just never really gave myself permission to let go.

I am giving myself permission!


Sunday, October 01, 2006

What is a friend?

Today, I had lunch with a dear friend from California. We share the same heritage and a deep love of the Lord. What a blessed time.

Last night, I had coffee with a dear friend I've known since our days in California. The conversation was very deep, very sincere, very moving.

Last week, I was blessed by spending time with my newest friend talking music, our heritages, and our lives.

Last weekend, I spent time with my sister and her partner without my children around. I've never allowed myself to let go and act as silly or have as much fun as I did with them then.

It seems that this last month has been about friendships in my life.

New friendships, old friendships and friendships in the middle.

Cultivating, giving, demonstrating, receiving and loving.

I have been blessed by the new friendships that the Lord has allowed me to share in recently. And the friendships that I've had for many years, sharing our good times as well as our difficult times.

In reflecting on these recent occasions, I wondered, what is friendship? What is the definition for "friendship?"

The word "friendship" in Webster's is defined as "an attachment to a person, proceeding from intimate acquaintance, and a reciprocation of kind offices, or from a favorable opinion of the amiable and respectable qualities of his mind. Friendship differs from benevolence"

Over the years, I've never really struggled in making new friends, but maintaining those friendships has not been my strong point. I've lost many a precious friend because I didn't take the time necessary to keep that friend.

Different reasons why; boredom, self-absorbed, marriage, motherhood . . . life!

The most important friendship these last 3 years has been my friendship with Jesus. Oh, I've known Him pretty much all my life. I even committed myself to Him in 1981. But, He has been one of those friendships that I didn't cultivate, didn't maintain, didn't take time to sit and listen to, didn't allow Him to be my friend the way He wanted to be.

Until I realized that His faithfulness all these years warranted my attention. I had to take notice, I had to acknowledge Him. I had to get to know Him, and as a result, Jesus has become my best friend. I can't go very far before I need to sit with Him, talk with Him, be with Him.

I admit that He is a better friend to me than I am to Him. I am still self-absorbed, selfish and self-centered. I still allow life to become more of my focus. I still tend to be seduced by life's "pleasures." But my Friend, is always here, always available and unchanging. Proverbs 18:24 says "A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."

For this, I desire to strive and give to others what Jesus has given to me. Because He takes the time to listen to me, I desire to be a good listener to my friends.

Two of my dear friends are at different phases in their lives. Same ages, but the Lord is taking them on different journeys. There are similarities, i.e. their health and aging. Being able to sit with them and share His love, encourage them and laugh with them, I found myself listening more. Stopping myself in sharing, bragging, whatever and listening to the "still small voice" asking me to listen, to encourage, to pray.

I was blessed by what I had the privilege to hear; a desire to get to know Jesus more intimately, a desire to learn to trust Him, a desire to submit to Jesus, to His control and a desire to allow His love to infiltrate the blood cells of the Body.

"A friend loves at all times." Or "A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need." Proverbs 17:17

Because of the time, although inconsistent at times, I've spent with the Lover of my Soul, my love for my friends, near and dear, old and new, has strengthen my desire to "be" a friend. To hold these friendships with care, to be mindful of what I say, to make sure that I am trustworthy, keeping things said, between us.

It has been easy, too easy, to want to flaunt these friendships with others. But, it doesn't matter who these friends are and what position they hold by the world's standards nor mine. What does matter is who I know. . . Jesus!!! And not what I get out of these relationships, but what I am putting in.

To have good friends, I must be a good friend. And I must allow my friends to be friends to me. "As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend." Proverbs 27:17

As I reread and proof this writing, I am listening to the live music of a church service and playing on their sound system is "Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down life for his friends." It was meant for me. Thank you, Lord, that you know my heart. Praise You for Your goodness.

I pray that this writing will encourage anyone who is reading this to stop and think about what type of friend they are and strive to be the type of friend Jesus desires you to be.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Where do I look for my security?

Went to Calvary Chapel Montebello, CA today with my sister.

What a blessing to visit with Pastor Pancho Juarez for a few minutes. How he needs encouraging. The Lord is taking him through a dark season. I know the Lord is using this time in life for His glory and for Pastor Pancho's relationship with Him, a closer, more intimate walk with Jesus. For nothing is wasted with the Lord. I'm thankful to My Father that He allowed me to speak words of encouragment to Pastor Pancho.

I shared with Pancho my summer of being able to lead a women's study. I wanted him to know how the Lord used his teachings to help convey the subject of contentment and Jesus to my small group. I also shared HOW God spoke to me, His sense of humor as I experienced some strange and terrific things in my life and how the Lord used them to speak Truth into my life. How my love for not only reading the Word has grown, but now my love of studying the Word has begun. I loved Pancho's reaction to that last statement; a wink and smile, as if to say, "Yeah, you got it! You go girl!"

But as Pastor Pancho says, he stumbles, he falls, he loses focus, his heart is dark.

And so the great struggle. I work out my salvation with fear and trembling.

I've had some moments recently that have shown me that my focus has being imbalanced. And so He humbled me today. How lovingly the Lord reels me in. My focus is back on track. My eyes are fixed on the Author and the Perfecter of my faith.

No matter what...

I serve a Lord who is with me

He will not forsake me.

When I am having those weak moments of trusting in my flesh, the Lord is near whispering into the depths of soul, "Lean not on your own understanding, Loretta, but trust in Me."

Praise the Lord, for He is so faithful.
Praise the Lord, for nothing is too great for Him!

"He is our comfort, our sustainer.
He is our help in time of need
When we wander, He is our Shepherd
He who watches over us never sleeps

Take heart my friend, the Lord is with us
As He has been all the days of our lives
Our assurance every morning
Our defender in the night"
"Take Heart, My Friend"
Fernando Ortega

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Mute Math playing at the Showbox...my fantasy come true

My grupo favorito, Mute Math kicked off their 2 month tour here in Seattle. What an amazing show. . . complete with a light show.

Roy Mitchell-Cárdenas, bassist for the group y mi amigo bueno, reminded me that I had said last year they should perform at the Showbox.
I had the wonderful honor of picking Roy up from the airport as well as the other members and crew. Wonderful people!

That evening before the show, as I stood there waiting for MM to come out, I could feel the anticipation growing as the crowd was waiting to hear their favorite band.

Then it started. . . my stomach began to feel queasy (and no . . . not from the bad chinese food we'd had before the show), but from seeing a fantasy fulfilled.

The music began and I could feel the tears wanting to well up inside of me. Why was this happening? I realized I felt like a proud mom watching her kids.

Throughout the show, I walked around the Showbox looking at all the people, on the floor, back in the bar, then standing on the opposite side stage left, over by the mdse. and the looks on their faces. . . it was awesome!

I didn't feel I could truly let go and enjoy the concert just for myself, until the end and I REALLY enjoyed singing and dancing to "Peculiar People."

Their CD will be released Sept 26. A special kick off will take place at FINGERPRINTS in Long Beach, CA.

Wish I could be there!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Can marriage get better, be better with time?

16 years ago, I attended our church's women's retreat where Nancy Missler was to be our guest speaker. Her husband is Chuck Missler the "Who's Who in Prophecy." She had written a book called: Why Should I be the First to Change? - which tells the complete story of the "turn around" of Chuck and Nancy's 20 year Christian marriage. http://www.khouse.org/pages/mcat/khouse/about_the_misslers/

I remember reading that their marriage began to take a turn after 18 years. At the retreat, feeling very defeated in my own union with my husband (married 4 years) I approached her, tears flowing from my face and asked, "Is it going to take me 18 years, too?"

Well . . . my husband and I have been married for over 21 years and yes . . . overall, it has been more than 18 years.

My husband is a great guy. I have truly been blessed. In any marriage, two people bring "baggage" with them, and I had LOTS to bring. I expected my husband to always be my "knight," which of course is totally unfair. I had an unrealistic view of marriage.

Gary Thomas asks the question "what if marriage was not meant to make you happy, but to make you holy?"

I am mostly a slow reader by nature. A week before Gary was scheduled to speak at a intimate seminar for our church, I had decided to finally read his latest book, "Sacred Influence." By day 5, I was in chapter 10. This book has transformed my life and my view of my marriage.

A couple of days before I had thought to open up the book, in my quiet time I'd read "For 'who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?' But we have the mind of Christ." 1 Corinthians 2:16. Reading this many times before, I had never thought to ponder this statement, but this particular morning I asked the Lord, "If I have the "mind of Christ," then what does that look like?"

A few moments later, I recalled 1 Corinthians 13:7 "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." I thought of what my marriage had been. What I wanted it to be. And then I realized, perhaps this is the "cross" the Lord has asked me to "bear." I CAN bear, I CAN believe, I CAN hope, I CAN endure, BECAUSE LOVE NEVER FAILS!! (1 Corinthians 13:8) The cross doesn't have to be carried with a heart that is cast down, but a heart that is rejoicing!! I can bear this cross with JOY!

So a couple of days later, I begin to read "Sacred Influence" not knowing that the Lord was answering my question, "If "I" have the "mind of Christ," then what does that look like?"

This book is aimed at wives and how to be the wife your husband needs. The Lord had been preparing me to read this book for the last 3 years . . . okay 22 years!!! All my suffering, physical, mental, emotional, imagined was allowed so that I would be ready for the lessons I would learn as I read through these pages.

I was soaking up the pages as I read what I could be to my husband, who he needs me to be as his wife. I no longer felt resentful about my having to change in order to see change in him. I desired to change and become a woman he honors, loves and respects.

I am amazed . . . in about 5 days, I felt my countenance change and become uplifted and encouraged.

Before Gary Thomas got up to teach us in the ways of being better spouses, I asked if I could speak with him about his book and the changes taking place in my heart and mind.

He smiled as I spoke, not a polite "I'll listen for a few moments and tune out to think about what I'll first say as I walk up to greet the folks out there," but a smile like he knew what I was talking about. I welled with tears as I told him that even if the man I married didn't become the husband I wanted or needed, I understood that this was my cross to endure. And I was willing to become the wife my husband needs and become the woman God desires to see in me. He said, "well . . . you've just said what I prepared to say to everyone today. You got it, you "get it." "

I further explained how I wished many of my friends out there at the tables could read this book, because they don't realize, just as I didn't, that they are punishing their husbands. He was surprised by what I said and commented, "what an interesting statement, I need to remember that, "they are punishing their husbands." "

And yes, my husband has seen the changes in me and has responded in kind. God is good. I can love my husband not because he loved me first or meets my needs first, but because Christ loved me first and gave His life up for me and I want to please my Lord and be a sweet sacrifice to Him. If I say I love God, but hate my brother then I lie. (1Jo 4:20 ) I believe I finally understand that verse.

Can marriage get better, be better with time? Depends on where your focus is and what you define as "better." Better doesn't always mean "happy." You can experience "seasons" of happiness. But it will be through the fires of testing that you will see what your marriage is made of and who you are as you go through those times.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Is marriage meant to make us happy or holy?

Gary Thomas author of Sacred Marriage on Bono of U2 :
"In his most recent CD, he has a line that appears in two different songs, it's slightly altered but it's pretty much the same thought, appears in two different songs, and it struck me because Bono is about my age, he's been married about as long as I've been married, extremly unusual for a rock star, in that he's been married to the same woman for over 20 years. And he writes one long line. He says; "I could never take the chance of losing love to find romance." And here's a rock star... he could find a new romance everyday of the week as U2 is out on tour, but he says you know what, there's a certain excitment in romance. Yeah, there's a certain fun to it, but to take that, I'd lose love. I'd lose a sense of loyally walking with one woman throughout my life. And he says I choose love."

Gary Thomas, noted author and speaker of Sacred Marriage was the guest speaker at our church recently.

Another quote from that Sunday's message:
"When we expect perfection out of marriage we are setting ourselves for disaster. Marriage means tortuous work and a predictable routine. That's what you should expect. Indeed a successful marriage has little to do with sustained bliss and everything to do with the grind." from her book "Surrendering to Marriage" by Iris Krasnow Quoting this author because a growing number of newlyweds thought marriage would be different, terrified they had made the wrong decision because they couldn't believe how difficult marriage was. He says: "you didn't make the wrong choice, you went into it with the wrong expectations, about what marriage would involve. You never really understood what it was about."

This was my favorite:
"You go into marriage hoping for a Mercedes Benz and you wake up with a Geo Prism!"

My husband and I are attending his seminar this weekend. And I am anticipating alot. Mostly changes from within myself.

You can listen to this message, by clicking the link below:

Listen Now!

Read now: Chapter One

What do you call it? Fear, anxiety, worry, concern?

Call it whatever you want, but. . . the bottom line is, it's fear.

David Hocking says:
"Fear is the expected result of not trusting the Lord. Whenever you have stopped trusting the Lord, you have opened up pandora's box of fear.
Fear will result in emotional traps.When you decide you're not going to trust the Lord, or maybe you just don't, you haven't decided to do that, it's just our natural tendency. The result of not trusting the Lord is you fall into emotional traps.

Read Psalm 23.
"The Lord is my shepherd;I shall not want.He makes me to lie down in green pastures;He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul;He leads me in the paths of righteousness. For His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,I will fear no evil;"
Stop there.

The fear of evil is a result of not trusting the Lord. Some of us are afraid of evil itself, no matter what form it takes and it's an emotional trap.
If the Lord is for us, who can be against us says Romans 8. We either believe that or we don't."