>I have been married for over 12 years and have been with my husband for over a total of 13 years. There is absolutely nothing about our marriage that statistically should foresee it as any possibility of being successful. According to the statistics that might pop up on your msn or yahoo news home page or even some of your christian media we should be destined for divorce.
However, these statistics do not factor in the grace of God.
There have been ups and downs in our marriage. There have been good times and bad. Life happens in our marriage. Issues, circumstances, junk… it happens.
In all this 13 years of life that has happened I can honestly and with all my heart say that I love my husband now more than I even imagined I could, even when I first spotted him and felt that flutter in my stomach as I watched him walk by and the “crush” began.
Our church put on a block party this past weekend. We had live bands that came and played. While I was sitting in the tent listening to one of the bands play, they began to play one of my favorite songs, Mighty to Save by Hillsong. I sat there and worshiped my God and then I heard the lyrics “take me as you find me, all my fears and failures…” My heart caught in my throat.
God whispered in my throat caught heart, “Nicole this is what marriage is about“
I took my husband as I found him. All his fears and failures came with the package.
My husband took me as he found me. And all my fears and failures came with the package… I came with alot of failures and alot of fears that mainly were formed from these failures.
My initial desire was to hide these fears and failures in a neatly tied up package in the back of my mind tucked away in a file labeled “Do Not Open EVER!”
For thirteen years God has been pulling at the string of this neatly tied up box and I have screamed, “No God, please, no… God, don’t make me open that box”
However, God has a way of doing what is best for us… even when we can’t see how in the world it could even be in the vicinity of good much less best.
That’s why He is God and we are not.
God knew that if that box would open and the rotting contents could be opened up I would experience a breathe of fresh air in a place of my soul that had been tightly shut for years from fear and shame and not only that I would see the love my husband had for me in a whole new and secure way. I would see that he really did take me as he found me, with all my fears and failures, and he would love me with grace and mercy and compassion.
This is what marriage is about.
Everyone needs compassion, everyone needs a love that is never failing, everyone needs the kindness of a Savior, what an absolute divine thing marriage is as two people take each other and all their fears and failures and fill each others lives allowing God to use them to love this person to Him.
I still have notebooks and computer files full of the info I gathered as I pondered and researched the idea and art of friendship. It’s not doing anyone any good in these files and notebooks so I am copy and pasting and typing handwritten pages like crazy so I can share this stuff with who ever is interested because I do know from personal experience how very important true and lasting friendship is in our lives 🙂
[According to a study documented in the June 2006 issue of the journal American Sociological Review, Americans are thought to be suffering a loss in the quality and quantity of close friendships since at least 1985. The study states 25% of Americans have no close confidants, and the average total number of confidants per citizen has dropped from four to two
The conventional wisdom is that good friendships enhance an individual’s sense of happiness and overall well-being. But a number of solid studies support the notion that strong social supports improve a woman’s prospects for good health and longevity. Conversely, it has been shown that loneliness and lack of social supports are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, viral infections, and cancer as well as higher mortality rates. Two female researchers have even termed friendship networks a “behavioral vaccine” that protects both physical and mental health]
~ web article
Chuck Swindoll writes,
“The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge once described friendship as “a sheltering tree.” What a beautiful description of that special relationship. As I read those words, I think of my friends as great, leafy trees, who spread themselves over me, providing shade from the sun, whose presence is a stand against the blast of winter’s lonely winds. A great, sheltering tree; that’s a friend.
David was leaving the great city of Zion—the city named after him, the City of David. As he came to the edge, at the last house, he stopped and looked back over that golden metropolis he had watched God build over the past years. His heart must have been broken as he stood there looking back, his mind flooded with memories. All around him the people of his household scurried past, leading beasts of burden piled high with belongings, running for their lives.
He was at the last house, and he needed a tree to lean on. Somebody who would say, “David, I’m here with you. I don’t have all the answers, but, man, I can assure you of this, my heart goes out to you.” When the chips are down and there’s nobody to affirm you and you run out of armor and you have no reputation to cling to, and all the lights are going out, and the crowd is following another voice, it’s amazing how God sends a sheltering tree.
All of us need at least one person with whom we can be open and honest; all of us need at least one person who offers us the shelter of support and encouragement and, yes, even hard truths and confrontation. Sheltering trees, all!
Thankfully, David had a grove of such trees. As a result he made it through the toughest and loneliest hours of his life.
If so, it is a good time to call them up and thank them for their shelter. If not, it’s a good time to get a shovel and plant a few. You’ll need every one. Just ask David.”
The seven points below came from the same web article that I shared at the very beginning of this post. I went through and researched the Word and added the Scriptural references to each of these points. I love how mankind sometimes thinks they have come up with some grand idea and gained some awesome strategic plan and in-depth insight for a good and happy and fulfilling life all on their own, when God has had all the instructions for this life already laid out for us, in writing nonetheless, for over 4000 years.
1) Desire best for other
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others (Phil 2:1-4)
One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.” So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. (Rom 14:1-13)
“wounds from a sincere friend are better than kisses from an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6). If God has placed someone in your life who is willing to challenge you about your spiritual shortcomings, take a lesson from David. Listen carefully—without getting mad—to God’s messenger, and admit your mistake. Then, like David, you can ask God to remove the stain of your guilt, and joyfully sing of His forgiveness (Psalm 51:9,14).
When was the last time someone pointed out some painful truth to you? How did you respond? Why is it sometimes most difficult to confront people close to us about their spiritual shortcomings?
~Jennifer Benson Schuldt
>So I have just finally calmed my ten year old daughter down after her meltdown.
What was the cause of the meltdown?
Yes, that’s right… Scripture verses.
We have a particular Wednesday night program that we do at our church for the children. The purpose of the program is wonderful. It is focused on Scripture memorization and the leaders are to work with the children to help them understand the Scriptures they are memorizing. The point is to hide God’s Word in their heart. It is a good program and I understand that it must have guidelines and such. There must be a plan that makes and markets it as this particular program in order to differentiate it from all the other programs.
One of the leaders who worked with my daughter told me how nervous and uptight my daughter was as she tried to say her verses. She lovingly told her to relax and remember that this was the Word of Peace.
Now my ten year old is a perfectionist and she is also possibly a little ocd. So when the leader, who is also dear friend, mentioned this to me a red flag of concern went up. When we came home tonight and was getting the girls ready for bed my husband asked what verses they said. Our youngest spirted hers off with her careless giggles as she recited three verses back to back. Then our ten year old, under the pressure, oh my, I do believe the child broke out in a cold sweat. She couldn’t get past the first part of the first verse…
Right then I knew we were having a problem… she was missing the point…
As I was kissing her goodnight I tried to explain to her that memorizing Scripture was for her. It was not to get points or a signature. She was learning these Scriptures so that God could bring them back to her when she needed them, whether it be for a problem she was facing or a problem someone else was facing. She was learning these Scriptures so that she could know when God was telling her what she needed to do and where she needed to go in all the how’s and why’s of life.
Yet she lay there crying because she was under the understanding that she was incompetent because she could not say these verses the way she thought this program said she had to in order to receive the approval of the program… a signature… a point.
Oh my are we missing the point?
This is not the view that I want my child to have of the Word of God. Learning it should bring her joy and peace not frustration and stress. Have we maybe pushed the “programs” a little too far?
“I have a respect for tradition but I have a passion for the truth.”
~ Uncle Johnny from Seven Days in Utopia
>We develop a very narrow definition of what we call “likeminded” people, based on the outworkings of our values and opinions. Now we are on a path to exclusivity when we will no longer associate with those who will be with us in eternity. Is it possible we have lost sight of fellowship based on love and devotion to Jesus, and have substituted personal standards and a narrow view of Christian liberty?
There are several serious consequences of raising children in a home marked by pride and judgment. Children may grow up also judging others. Or, they may hide their real values, acting as though they embrace our values, when, in fact, they are simply seeking to avoid discipline and lectures at home. Or, they may see the shallowness of our legalistic faith that consists primarily of “avoid this, wear that, attend this,” and not be attracted to it in the least.
I am convinced that the most contagious parenting is living a heartfelt faith before your children. Fruitful interaction is not about what you do to your young people, but who you are with them. It’s about having a real faith in God, and expressing it in a real relationship with a real person–not about methods and self-working principles. God intends that the side-effect of loving Jesus and enjoying the grace of the gospel will be that all people–including our children–will be touched by the Savior in us. I pray in Jesus’ name that as you read these words you will experience the grace of God in a fresh and new way. ~ Reb Bradley
These are just a few paragraphs pulled from a really good article, Homeschool Blindspots by Reb Bradley. A friend of mine posted it on her facebook page.
As a Homeschool Mom this is stuff I need to hear. You see we didn’t choose to homeschool our children so that we could put them in a bubble. We chose to homeschool for several reasons but complete life sterility and quarantine was not one of them.
We homeschool to teach them from a Biblical worldview. In this teaching we discuss other worldviews and weigh them against what the Word of God says. We want to open our children’s minds to life outside themselves, not close them up in their own artificially formed reality. We don’t run from the tough issues and from the many different beliefs and cultures around us and in our world. We try to talk about them in an informative non-judgmental way.
(Of course this is something that I have learned as I have grown in my walk with the Lord. I tell people now that I was one of those borderline obnoxious believers when I first surrendered my life to Christ. If you didn’t look like you felt like I felt then I felt you weren’t saved and it was my dire responsibility to tell you how I felt about how you needed to really get to know Jesus because by my evaluation of you, you obviously did not… I am thankful that God placed me amongst those who were willing to tolerate me, be patient with me, and love me though my growing pains and who continue to love me… because I certainly am not fully mature yet)
I have learned in my growth that this walk with Christ is more about what we do, not what we do not. Usually if we are just focused on the “do” of loving God with our whole heart and getting to know Him, then the “do not’s” take care of themselves. It’s kind of like when you fall head over heels in love with that “one”… everyone else just ain’t all that important anymore. They have lost their ability to impress you, because you have found “the one” and your focus is getting to know them more and spending every possible spare moment with them. You don’t have to walk around and place do not see and do not touch signs on everybody else in order to stay away from them… you just simply don’t even think about them in that way anymore because your heart and eyes are captivated by “the one”.
So I decided that my job as a homeschool mom was just to glorify God in all that we do. To magnify the glory of His majesty and praise Him in all things.
I also learned that it was to be honest with my kids. It meant to be real with them. It meant when I knew I had been short tempered, easily frustrated, and flat-out wrong in my behaviour toward them or another I was to confess it and ask their forgiveness and maybe even ask them to pray with me. I want them to see how God works in His amazing grace.
We also did not choose to homeschool in order to segregate our children to only people who look like us and believe like us. Due to the lack of diversity where we live our children would be more segregated and closed minded from being in public school. We enjoy the opportunity that homeschool gives us to expose our children to different cultures and to show them the beauty in each individual, in every nation, tribe, and tongue. We want our girls to know that mankind is not the enemy, they are they the mission. God’s desire is for all mankind to come to Him and be saved.
We also did not choose homeschool in order to protect our children from different denominational beliefs in the body of Christ. We have chosen to expose them to these differences and point out to them the foundational principles that we all hold alike and are teaching them to hold to these and those that do not hold to the foundation of Christ are not Christian at all.
Was vindicated in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Proclaimed among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory.