Thursday, May 31, 2012

Marriage - Things I Learned From My Spouse

One day I asked my husband what he's learned since he's been married to me?  My husband is a thinker so to nudge his brain I provided my answer first.

Here's what I learned from being married to him:

  • Because of him, I can now pick out any Smokey Robinson song after hearing only the first note.  As I've mentioned before my husband loves music, particularly oldies and I now have an appreciation for them.
  • I now watch and enjoy tennis, football and soccer.  He likes sports; when we first got married it was important for him to have a TV simply to keep up with sports.  I now know the World Cup cycle, all the majors for tennis and when football season starts.  I've always liked sports, but he has expanded my knowledge. Did you know, one can plan their life around major sporting events - summer Olympics, winter Olympics, world cup, golf championships, Superbowl, etc)?


These were my big two - Oh, by the way this wasn't meant to be a soul searching discussion, just knowledge you would have never picked up if you weren't with your spouse.

He then shared:

  • How to make real good fish cakes - Bajans do it better than Jamaicans!!!
  • The importance of time; I don't mean this in a bad way - he has a "soon come" mentality when it comes to most things that are time related, but aren't necessarily important.  Any how he has gotten better over the years.



Marriage broadens your perspective; these are lighthearted examples, but there are many more that I can share that didn't come up in this conversation.


So what have you learned from your spouse - significant or insignificant?



Saturday, May 26, 2012

Thoughts on Marriage...

As of March 25th 2012, I've been married for twenty three years.  I always say 23 and counting because I'm not going anywhere, neither is he. I'm pro-marriage as God intended it and always will be.


God created marriage. No government subcommittee envisioned it. No social organization developed it. Marriage was conceived and born in the mind of God.”  ~ Max Lucado


Lessons on my mind today:

  • Raising children tries a marriage; raising Godly children tries it more.  I love my children - don't get me wrong, but if I didn't have them I don't think I would be the person I am today.
  • Even though, our perspectives are different being equally yoked makes a huge difference in how we approach things.  We agree on the solution but may disagree on the implementation.
  • There are some things that produce constant arguments - for us it has always been household chores (esp dishes and anything related to the kitchen); who will do them, when will they get done, and how will they be done.  These days, I've made my peace with it and try not to get angry when this happens.
  • Our communication styles are SOOO different - my husband is low key, mellow; I'm the opposite.  I'm always accused of yelling when often times its the intensity that's mistaken for yelling. Sometimes I want him to show a little more excitement.  Just this evening we were talking and we got caught up in how we were saying what we were saying instead of what was actually being said.
  • I have what I need in him and he in me; he makes me a better person.  The thing about relationships is once you recognize that someone truly cares for you, when they tell you the hard things (even though you don't want to hear it) you realize its for your benefit.  Early on we both used to be very defensive but now because we know each other's heart our first response is to hear what is being said without putting up a wall.
  • When you have a wardrobe malfunction, its nice to have a partner who can get your zip up or figure out why your convertible bra won't convert!
  • Its good to get things out, if not they can build up and become truly big deals.
  • Holding hands, or having someone's hand to hold is beautiful.
  • I find it amazing that my husband always thinks I'm attractive even when I don't feel and look that way.

Somehow marriage came to mean that you'd be perpetually happy and the reality is not so. Since marriage takes two - each person needs to self-evaluate and make sure that they are doing and being what they expect from the other person.


Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. Ephesians 5:31


What are your thoughts on marriage today? Can you relate to any of the above?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

MORE...Update

God is proving Himself very real to me in this year of MORE.

I'm learning to lean on Him and trust more, but it's not as scary as I thought.  As a matter of fact, because life is so unpredictable, I'm learning that I'd rather reach out to Him first.

I wanted to read through the entire Bible in a year, but that's fallen by the wayside.  Instead I am content to be reading and letting Him speak to me.  It's noble to read through the Bible, but it was just an exercise.  I get more from reading various passages and meditating on them.

In all of life, God is there.  If you change your perspective, they are spiritual lessons to be learned in everything around us.

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We just celebrated my dad's 80th birthday this weekend.  What a blessing for him and us.  We come from humble beginnings - but the biggest testimony is: my father and mother have 8 children - and all are walking with the Lord.  Now, the fruit that each one bears is different.

My father spoke in proverbs and his best proverb to date is: "You may be smart but you ain't wise!" One of my brothers really stumped his child rearing skills, but this phrase made him stop and think and turned him around.

Eight children, eight personalities, eight experiences.  One of us is not here, but those remaining shared from their experience.

Even though Jesus is a central force in each one's life, life has not been easy.  We are all works in progress until we get to heaven; extra grace and mercy is required when dealing with some of us.
Mom and the Birthday Boy




All of us - that's me in the front in red, my son is behind me and my 2 oldest daughters are next to me; the little one is in front of grandma.

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I also saw my son - the oldest grandchild graduate from college.  Parenting teaches you a lot. You learn to be tough and when to be tender.  You learn to advocate and when to let go.  You learn that even though you let go, they're always in your heart. You want them to succeed but you know too well they will have failures prior to success. You learn to laugh with your children and at yourself. You learn to humble yourself and hear what they're saying. You always see the best even if they don't see it.

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It was a whirlwind week, but now I'm back on the west coast where the weather is hot and beautiful.
Hubby & I

What's happening with you? How's the weather where you are?  Celebrated any milestone events recently? How's your spiritual life?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Key

I like tea; no I love tea - it's my favorite beverage.  My children chide me for my tea habit - but to my mind it could be worse - I could be drinking alcoholic beverages.  So I'll continue to drink tea, since it soothes and calms my spirit.  I recently downloaded Tea Lovers Devotions To Go by Marilyn Nutter.  This particular devotion really spoke to me, and I hope it does the same for you.


The Key   
Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Philippians 4:8 (NIV)  

As one might expect, original storage containers for tea leaves came from China.  These containers were square, round, or bottle shaped jars made of pottery or porcelain.  Each container had a lid for measuring the tea. It wasn’t until the late 1700’s that the term “tea caddy” was used. The word “caddy” came from the Malay-Chinese word kati, referring to a measure of about 1 1/3 pounds. This amount of tea filled a single compartment box. Through the years manufacturers experimented with different materials for making tea caddies, using wood, silver, pewter and lacquer ware.  The preferred material in the 19th century was fine wood and compartments for mixing tea and sugar were also included in the caddies.  As tea became more popular, the design of the tea caddy evolved and became more varied, adding new shapes. Filigree, painting and distinctive decorating added to the offerings. Some were fitted with a lock and key to keep the valuable contents safe.  In the 1800’s, it was customary for the mistress of the house, not the servants, to hold the key to this precious commodity. Tea was considered just as valuable as gold! If one wanted tea, the woman of the house held the key and you had to ask her to unlock the caddy.


Women of the house still hold the key.  We hold the key of influence.  We influence the world around us: our workplace, friends, organizations we belong to and of course, our families.  We also have an uncanny knack to influence ourselves and sometimes we don’t even realize it. Negative self-talk about our value, appearance and worth influences our decisions and behavior.  We look in the mirror and notice our bad hair day or that we don’t like the way we look in our outfit.  We speak the words out loud.  Our brain believes them and we feel gloomy. We hold the key to be positive and choose to unlock negativity.    Last week I was part of a conversation where it was mentioned that a woman dropped out of an organization because she thought no one liked her. There wasn’t one shred of truth to her perception, but she had internalized it and believed it. She held the key to continue attending meetings, taking initiative and allowing friendships to develop but she used her key to leave.

Perhaps growing up you were told you weren’t pretty or didn’t work hard enough, or you didn’t fit into the “right” teen-age cliques. That was then and this is now-- use your key to lock those perceptions and put them away.   Tea caddies began as small boxes to hold a commodity that was considered as precious as gold. They evolved into intricately designed boxes with compartments and keyholes made of mother of pearl! You can hold on to your key to open new doors and toss out those negative words or you can keep opportunities locked.  As intricately designed. I’m sure He even thinks that the keyhole is more lovely than one decorated with mother of pearl.  

Prayer for serene-tea:  Father, I know that I have been guilty of negative thinking and self-talk and that is offensive to You, the one who made me and loves me. Help me to change my thinking to reflect that I am your creation and precious to You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tea caddy - I had no idea what a caddy looked like, so I googled it; all  contained a key hole!


How will you use your key?



Friday, May 18, 2012

Long Winding Road




Sometimes, I think we use distractions as a crutch.  I run and oftentimes in order to get through a long run I wear my iPod and listen to music. I don't necessarily need the music, but I've convinced myself that running with music makes it go faster, more enjoyable and less painful.  The reality is, it's all in my head.  How do I know? Yesterday, I went for a run on a long winding road, without my headphones and I realized how much I was losing out on, by being distracted.  I could focus on the road ahead, I could hear traffic and nature and I could literally smell the roses. Because I was "present", I could focus - I could adjust my breathing or my stride, and what I thought was scary or daunting, actually was not - it was all in my head.

Our Christian walk is like a long winding road. Many times in our Christian walk we rely on distractions to get us through - music, computers, books, friends, jobs, money, church involvement; anything but actually spending time in His presence, with His Word, meditating on His Goodness.  We're not on this journey alone, so it's sometimes baffling why we feel the need to distract ourselves in the first place. The distractions aren't bad in and of themselves - we can listen to Gospel music, find christian websites, read great devotionals and have necessary conversations.  But sometimes they distract to the point of replacing.  

When I'm distracted, I don't focus.  My communication is a little off my attention is diverted.  I notice this with others around me, I wonder how this looks to God?  I'm so distracted I can't even pray like I want. I'm so distracted, I don't take the time to read my Bible.

Just as I removed my headphones for my long run, I'm removing distractions so that I can truly focus on the Lord.  I want to feel his presence therefore, I need to be "present." Distractions are always a challenge, but with God's help I'm pressing forward.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalms 139:23-24


But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33 

Do you have any distractions? How do you deal with them? 




Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Cup Runneth Over

Mother's Day and my first child - the Boy, graduating from College - my cup runneth over!
Having most of the family together and all of the antics that entails - my cup runneth over!
Missing one daughter who is still overseas, but using the wonders of technology so that she is able to see her brother walk across the stage - my cup runneth over!
Conversations with my husband and reflecting on how far we've come; talking to our children and hearing and seeing the maturity in them; enjoying the innocence of a 9 year old; visiting the east coast and hanging out with my brother and his family - my cup runneth over!


You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Psalm 23b (NIV)  
When the English began manufacturing tea cups they imitated the Chinese style of small bowls without handles. Around the mid 1700’s, handles were added so that women wouldn’t burn their fingers. Saucers, originally small plates to hold sauce, eventually became part of the cup and saucer set. At the end of the Victorian era and the beginning of Edwardian days, people often poured the tea from their cups into their saucers to cool the beverage before sipping it.  It was an acceptable practice then, but definitely gauche now.  Yes, I drink from my saucer when my family is all under one roof and it isn’t a faux pas.  Whether we are celebrating or struggling, David says in Psalm 16:11, “Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.”  My cup is filled with my Shepherd’s loving security and His love and faithfulness overflow.  The only way to respond is to drink from my saucer to catch all that He has for me. (Excerpted from Nutter, Marilyn (2012-03-16). Tea Lovers Devotions to Go (Kindle Locations 248-250). See Media, Inc.. Kindle Edition)


The tassel was worth the hassle - my cup runneth over!

I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day and celebrated with those you love.

I sincerely wish that your cup would run over also!


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Being Baptized


This past Sunday, we had 4 baptisms at church: 2 teen aged girls, and 2 young men.
Before being baptized, each person shared their testimony of when they realized they were a Christian, what it means to follow Christ, where they were and where they are now.  Every testimony is and was unique.

One of the teenagers had a boring testimony - she was saved from "nothing," i.e. she didn't do drugs, didn't sleep around, didn't drink and had attended church all her life.  In all of this boringness, God reached out and touched her, she accepted His touch, and now knows that she has a different life.  The other teen talked about spiritual adoption - being accepted in to God's family; her real family does not accept her and were not in attendance.

One of the young men was from a Muslim country, was a Muslim and is also a scientist.  There was a language barrier, but the gist of what he said was, as a scientist, he knows God is real.  He never felt this reality as a Muslim and referenced John 1:1.

The fourth young man was nervous, yet this was the best feeling for him.

It is encouraging to hear and watch people being baptized. Sometimes, if nothing convinces or convicts  you, just hearing another's story and what God is done for them, that's the impetus for you to start your own journey.

Christian baptism is an immersion in water.  It is an outward symbolic representation of a change that has taken place on the inside. It is a choice the individual makes after making a decision to follow Christ. It is an illustration of what has taken place in your heart and what Christ has done for us - you go down an old man, you come up a new creature.  Just that quickly it happens - physically and spiritually. Further information on baptism can be found at this link.

I remember when I got baptized, and I remember how I felt (even though I was 8 years old).

Are you baptized? Have you ever considered being baptized? Do you wish to be baptized? Do you attend a church that performs baptisms every Sunday? Do you think people understand the importance and significance of baptism? Any additional thoughts? 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pray - That was Easy!



If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know that prayer is foundational to my life.

Today is the National Day of Prayer and I just wanted to remind you to take a moment today and pray.

What can you pray for?  Everything, nothing is too inconsequential.  Nothing - no requests just praise God because He is.  Is anything too difficult for God?  No, nothing absolutely nothing, nothing is too difficult for thee - that's an excerpt from a favorite chorus that I could sing all day long.


Verse:
Ah Lord God, Thou hast made the heavens
And the earth by Thy great power;
Ah Lord God, Thou hast made the heavens
And the earth by Thine outstretched arm.

Refrain
Nothing is too difficult for Thee,
Nothing is too difficult for Thee;
O, great and mighty God,
Great in power and mighty in deed,
Nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing,
Nothing is too difficult for Thee.

As believers, we are told to pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17  Without ceasing means continuously, non-stop, all the time.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18

Daniel continued to pray even in times of trouble. Pray was second nature to him. Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Daniel 6:10

Additional encouragement to pray can be found on this blog post.

Today is a great reminder that we should be praying always.  Pray.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Don't Let Another Wounded Soldier Die

The Girl - this is what she became.  She no longer had a name - everyone called her The Girl.  The Girl attended church and was a member of the Youth Choir.  The Youth Choir really blessed others when they sang, but as these things go, not everyone believed or lived what they sang.  The choir director could only do so much to ascertain a person's spiritual condition.  The Girl got pregnant.  They were many cries of "How could this happen?"  "She sang every Sunday", and "O My Goodness."  To hear it being told all of the ones condemning were near perfect in their youth and never made any mistakes.  The Girl left the church and as far as I know never came back.

To add insult to injury, The Girl and her "condition" became a topic at the next church business meeting.  Personally speaking, I strongly detest the business of church.  Anyhow, various members berated the Girl and her situation -  policies need to be in place to ensure this doesn't happen again.  The tone was revolting; there was no love.  At that particular point in time, I thought, how would the Girl feel if she were here?  I may have gotten up and taken a stand (but I don't remember anymore).


Every time I hear this song, I think of that young lady and how she was a wounded soldier that we, as a church let die.

Life is a battlefield.  On a battlefield, we are assaulted and injured.  We are at war, so we are bound to get hurt.  When we get hurt, we try to get back up an continue.  But sometimes the hurt is so deep, the wounds so painful, we want to just lay there and die.  Then someone comes along - they give us a hand or they literally lift us and carry us. They move us out of harm's way; they wash our lacerations; they reset our broken bones.

Our wounds take many forms.  Sometimes, even though we mean well, we get stuck on the wrong things. Before we condemn, help.  Place the oil of kindness in the wounds to help the person heal.  Carry them until they are able to walk and then minister to them in love. Imagine going to a doctor to fix a particular ailment.  Instead of treating you the doctor begins to scold, berate, and disparage you about your ailment.  After all of this, he never treats your ailment.  How would you feel? So many times this is how we treat the hurting among us.  Don't let another wounded soldier die.


But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. Luke 10:33-34

Carlene Davis has my favorite version of this song, but I could not find that version on Youtube so this one will do.

Do you know any wounded soldiers? Are you a wounded soldier?