An Unwilling Wife, a Reluctant Mother

IMG_2726I’ve been mad at Jason lately. And when my better half asks what’s wrong, I don’t want to say. Like this past Saturday. I didn’t want to give him an answer because I know.

Oh, I know.

My reason isn’t a good one.

Because truth is selfishness lies at the bottom of my meanness. Inward focus the cause of the inky blackness that permeates my heart and soul, eventually seeping out and darkening the paths of those I love the most.

Like my husband. My kids.

Yes, darkness pervades my atmosphere when I try to retain pieces of what I consider to be my own. When I attempt to hold back big chunks of my life. All for myself. Just for me…

Time’s probably the biggest source of contention. Because when I feel like I’m losing it, I become resentful of everything that takes from it. This is where my poor husband comes in. Him and his recent inquiry.

“What’s wrong,” he asked.

And what a pitiful answer I offered. See, I weighed out my time verses his and he came out ahead (way ahead). At least in my mind he did. And though the rational part of my brain fully comprehends my scales are off (way off), I quietly stew over my perceived losses anyway.

This is what I tried to explain to Jason last weekend. And not so eloquently, I might add.

Because I knew. And I know.

I know how awful this sounds. But it’s the awful truth. And this is where I’ve found myself more than once this past month. Ironically, in the days leading up to Mother’s Day…

Me simmering and stewing and wishing I could do something else. Something in particular. But I can’t because I’m hindered. Slowed down by the things in life that keep me from it. Namely, being a wife and mother.

Because these roles are most prominent in my life. My first calls to duty. My family is of utmost importance. They are.

But God help me there are times I want to do something else. If only for a little while. I want to get to that other thing that draws me. The thing that makes me feel full of purpose. And important.

Yes, if I could just remove my wife and mom hat for a little chunk of time, I could accomplish all the things I set out to do. Or if only each day offered more minutes to do both…

My family and the million items on my to-do list.

Maybe then I’d be a happy camper. And maybe then I wouldn’t be so unwilling to accomplish wifely tasks. Not so reluctant in performing motherly duties such as feedings and wipings and cleanings and so on.

Guiltily, though, I’ve been unwilling and reluctant. And why? Because I’ve been placing my stuff over my husband’s and children’s. My desire to do something more has caused me to be greedy. A spirit of generosity overtaken by a spirit of withholding.

Stinginess.

And the piece of me that clings to what’s mine is a piece of me my family doesn’t have access to…

Because when I pine away for the thing I can’t get to, I don’t give my family my all. Instead, they get my darkness. Thus, Scripture is proven.

She who tries to save her life – and time – loses it. Because most definitely, the tighter I cling, the quicker my life force ebbs away. And blackness prevails. Just like a tomb.

It happens every, single time.

Sigh.

Friend of God

So the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness, and he was called God’s friend. James 2:23

I’ll tell you what. God never ceases to amaze me in how He brings home a point. And how He can weave together different threads of truth from different sources to create the most beautiful tapestry of revelation.

He did so this week. It started Sunday. An elder at church mentioned Abraham and how all the nations are blessed through him. It tickled my ear. On Monday, I heard about Abraham again. This time through a Bible study when he was referred to as a friend of God. And yesterday, my devotional book. It said, “Having a friendship with God is no small thing.” Abraham was the subject matter.

God had my full attention by then. I knew I had to investigate further. And I’m amazed at how He used this one term – friend of God – to shed light on my current issue. My struggle with selfishness.

See, I wondered what it took to be God’s friend. Because I’d like to carry that title, too. But the thing is, the relationship is costly. And it was more than belief that made Abraham a friend. It was how he acted on that belief…

Genesis 22 gives us the story.

God called and Abraham answered, “Here I am.” That’s when he heard the unthinkable for God called him to take his son, his only son, the one he loved, and offer him up as a sacrifice.

Can you imagine? God instructed Abraham to kill his son and he set out to do it. Scripture says it was a test. A test in that Abraham was called to put to death the thing he loved most.

When Abraham told his servants to hang back (it was a three day journey), he told them, “the boy and I will go over there to worship.” Worship is what he said. That’s how he described laying down the life of his only son.

Thankfully, God stepped in at the very last minute and provided another sacrifice. But the point is, Abraham was willing. He was willing to do the unthinkable because God commanded him to. That’s how full of faith he was. And that action is what made him a friend.

Abraham’s willingness to obey.

And the act of obedience is why all nations of the earth receive blessing through Abraham. “I will indeed bless you and make your offspring as numerous as the stars… all nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring because you have obeyed My command.”

Yes, belief led to obedience in Abraham’s life. And this is part of what God wanted me to see.

This is My command: love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. John 15:12-14

You know, Jesus has friends, too. But no different than Abraham’s relationship with God, it’s costly. Because if we want to be His friend, we have to obey His commands and that’s not so easy to do.

Like when He says to love one another as I have loved you. Well, He loved us to His death. He laid down His very life for ours. And that’s a hard act to follow. And when He tells us to pick up our cross daily, He means we’re to die. Every single day.

Yes, Jesus wants us to put ourselves to death. Our wants and our desires come second to His command. But who wants to do that?

Who wants to sacrifice their very life? Because we love ourselves too much. We love our time and our stuff which causes us to hold back big chunks for selfish purposes.

At least I do…

If just for a little while.

But He says no. He commands the opposite. To love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Really, to love them more than ourselves. Because that’s exactly what He did when He died on the cross.

And that’s the heart of it. This is what God wants me to see.

For He’s commanding me to love other people as I love myself. No, more than I love myself. Specifically, my people. My husband and my kids. He calls me to be a willing wife and devoted mother because they come first. Their wants, their desires, their needs.

So unlike Abraham who was called to sacrifice his son, God calls me to sacrifice myself. My life in place of theirs.  This is the price of being Jesus’ friend.

And I want to be His friend.

Thus, belief prompts and act of obedience which in turn is my spiritual worship. And worship is how Abraham described sacrifice.

Me, too. This is how I worship my God…

Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:2

God gives examples. Threads of truth woven into our lives to give insight. Like this week when He gave me Abraham, His friend. And He gave me Jesus, His Son. I look to their lives as a pattern for my own.

But you know, He also gave me my mom. And she knows exactly what it means to sacrifice one’s life. Because that’s just what she did. She gave up her life for mine. And for my brother.

She gave up huge chunks of time so that our future would be secure. Her wants and desires came second to our needs. Every single time.

She sacrificed her happiness. Her life. Her all.

Yes, unlike me, Mom was selfless.

And in return, I have life. And she is my pattern.

She is my mother.

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I wish I could say I’ve followed my mom’s example. But I didn’t. No, for so long I was selfish and didn’t even know it.

Like in this picture when I was pregnant with Levi…

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And I have to laugh when I see it. So carefree. So devil-may-care. That’s because I hadn’t a clue what was coming. I had no idea what a hard road motherhood is. I didn’t realize how much of myself I’d have to put to the side. The countless sacrifices and daily deaths…

At least for a season or two.

Or three.

And I’d be lying if I said I was a natural. Frankly, being a mom hasn’t been easy. Because at times, my selfish nature quells up and it’s hard to push it back. I want what I want when I want it. And when it seems far off, darkness presents.

That’s when reluctance makes an appearance. An unwillingness holds court. Like this past month.

But God grabbed my attention and He illuminated my selfishness. That ugly part that takes away from those most dear…

Like my husband. My kids.

And I know I’m on the right track. Because I want to please them. I want to put aside my stuff in favor of theirs. I want to be a good wife and good mom. So once more, light overtakes the dark and stinginess gives way to generosity.

Thus, what Jason told Levi is really true. It’s a fact I love my son more than anyone else in the whole world could. Because I’d give my life for him. I’d die for him. That’s what mothers do…

And if I’m willing to sacrifice my life’s blood, then time is easy to release… the chunks of “mine” I tried to cling to.

Thus, I put away my faulty set of scales and lay down my life for theirs… again. See, this dying thing is an everyday occurrence. I have to find fresh resolve to do it. But in doing so, I find great reward.  Because obeying makes me not just a friend of Jesus but also, a great mom and wife.

And through this act of obedience, I am blessed. As are they… those closest to me.

My husband and my kids.

Because I am a most willing wife. A wholly devoted mother.

Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Proverbs 31:28

The Strongest Woman I’ve Known (a tribute to Cissy)

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This past week didn’t go as planned. We were supposed to visit Cissy today. Jason’s step-mom. We had Christmas presents for her. There was a fluffy robe, flannel pj’s, and a calendar chock full of our kids’ photos as well as a few of her…

At least that’s what we planned to do. Instead, we received a call Tuesday afternoon. Jason’s sister said Cissy was not expected to last the day. So we threw our things in a bag and left town as fast as we could.

We hoped we’d get there in time. We wanted to say good-bye. That didn’t happen, though, for she left this earth much too soon.

And so our week was not what we thought it would be. And instead of dropping off gifts, we ended up bringing home more than we took. Items tucked into a box…

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This is what we have left of her now. Memories of our time with Cissy. And it’s what I’ve pilfered through this evening. As the photos sifted through my finger tips, scene after scene played out in my mind…

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I thought about Cissy most of our drive home today, too. Between bathroom stops and calming my toddler, I did. And along with tears, there were smiles. When I thought of all those cozy things that brought her image to mind, the ends of my mouth curved upward…

Tissues and magazines and newspapers and reading glasses. Smile. And pajamas and slippers and lotion. There’s warmth. This is how I remember her best. Cissy sitting in her comfy chair with a kitty nearby.

And I grin when I think of our first meeting. See, she wasn’t home when Jason introduced me to his dad and I was downright terrified. That’s because Dwight wasn’t a man of many words. At least not at first, he wasn’t. And at our introduction, I didn’t have any of my own.

No, flanked by two non-speaking men, I sat trembling in my brown corduroy jumper staring blankly at the TV screen. I searched the far recesses of my brain for something interesting to say but found nothing to offer. I don’t think I could have been more uncomfortable.

But then, Cissy.

Thank the Lord she came home. Totally outgoing and filled to the brim with questions, she had an abundance of words. A friend to everyone, I don’t think she knew a stranger. And God bless her, she even sat sideways on our way to dinner so there wouldn’t be a pause in the conversation.

Yep, Cissy kept the banter going and she made everything alright from that moment on. And in light of Cissy, Dwight wasn’t so scary to me anymore. And over time, my love for him pushed that unfounded fear right out the door anyway.

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Yeah, those are all good memories. So much to smile about. But there are other things, too. Sadness and tragedy. Utter heartbreak. For Cissy had it rough. Unbearable, really.

And when I found the following note the day after Cissy’s passing, written in her own hand, I decided I’d print and frame her words to keep as a reminder.

For if any woman would know about difficulty, she would.

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Cissy said we’re to learn important lessons from the things that are most difficult. And one would assume she was referring to her battle with cancer. A three year grueling ordeal.

But in truth, I believe her battle began long before that. Because I think life’s hardest blow hit when her beloved died suddenly. Without warning. A massive heart attack claimed the man she’d never get over. My husband’s father, Dwight, passed quickly in 2008.

One week beyond Jason’s birthday…

And none of us got the chance to say good-bye.

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The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9

I have to tell the truth. On Tuesday, I had plans. I was in the middle of a project and there was one delay after another. Namely, my daughter wouldn’t take her morning nap which pushed everything back.

I just wanted to do the thing I’d been trying to do all morning. And when I encountered resistance, I felt anger. My attitude went south way too easily.

And therein lies the lesson of Cissy. And tackling difficulty. It has to do with attitude. Her attitude. Which was a good one.

Staying positive. And hopeful.

That’s the example she left us.

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Cissy was a strong woman. Independent and driven and full of purpose. She was that way long before she met Dwight. But alas, her Prince Charming swept her off her feet and love came knocking.

And I just love the story she told. About how Dwight had a business trip that took him away for a few days. But while they were apart, she sensed a change in him. She just knew he was going to end their relationship. A good-bye before she was ready…

And so upon his return when he asked her to sit with him on the porch so they could talk, she resisted.

No, I’m tired. I want to go to bed.

She just didn’t want to hear him say it was over. But Dwight was persistent so they sat, Cissy thinking the end had come. That’s when a song started playing…

“Sha la la la la la, live for today.”

That was Dwight’s queue. “Hear that song, Cissy? Will you marry me?” And what she thought was going to be an ending turned out to be a beginning.

And along with Dwight, she gained two step-children and eventually four grandchildren.

However, happily ever after didn’t happen. Or at least it didn’t stay that way.

DSCN4132This picture was taken a month before Dwight died. And this was a month before Cissy’s heart broke right in two. And I swear, she had every reason to be bitter.

Because her husband was gone.

But see, Cissy was a strong woman before she met Dwight. Independent and driven and full of purpose. And though life knocked her down and she never got over him, she did get back up.

Cissy found the strength to stand on her feet again. And it was this strength that carried her through her three year battle with cancer. The disease kicked her down more than once, but she stood again and again and again.

She battled unlike any woman I’d ever seen. She fought harder than anyone could have. I swear, Cissy was the strongest woman I’ve ever known.

When I told her so several months back, she said that’s what Dwight used to say, too.

The strongest woman I know.

That’s what Dwight would say…

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You know, God has a way of tying things up. Of drawing loose ends together. He did so for me this past week when I found this card on Cissy’s desk. It’s what I sent for her birthday earlier this year.

And I read the words I wrote to Cissy. I told her how I’d been focusing on the struggles of life. I said, “And what I realize is if anybody knows what it’s like to struggle, you do. You have to do battle every day.” 

Funny thing is, that’s where I found myself on Tuesday. Just before I heard the news about Cissy, I was thinking about struggle and battle. Even writing about it. Because I felt some resistance in what I was trying to accomplish.

But you know what? My attitude got really bad. I felt angry and bitter over something so teeny-tiny. If there was a skirmish, I lost for sure and my mood was the source of my downfall.

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And then, there’s Cissy. A woman who lost her husband before he was 57 years old. A woman who was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma in 2012 at Thanksgiving when she was only 56. She went through one hardship after another with her illness.

And yet, her attitude remained positive.

Always.

She did not complain.

Never.

She hid her pain.

So well.

And she remained hopeful.

Always.

Her faith never, ever faltered. Ever. And though cancer eventually took her life, it never got the best of her. And though cancer claimed her body, Cissy never lost the battle. She fought the good fight…

She fought and fought till the very end.

The bitter end.

The strongest woman I’ve ever known never once gave up.

She never did.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12

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I wish I could be more like Cissy.

Unfortunately, I all too easily become bitter when I let myself. Over small things. Like not saying good-bye. I just felt so mad that we didn’t get that chance.

But you know, Cissy didn’t either. She didn’t get the opportunity to tell her beloved Dwight good-bye. Some time after his passing, though, the oddest thing began to happen. There were feathers.

Cissy would find feathers in the most obscure places. All over her home. And there was no reason on earth they should have been where they were. No where they could have come from.

Cissy believed they were from Dwight.

And that’s one of the things that makes me smile today. Because on Wednesday, I chose a globe with a bird in it for myself. I’d made it for Cissy’s mother a few years back and didn’t think anybody else would want it. I dusted the edges and sat it on Cissy’s counter but left it behind.

And the oddest thing happened.

When Jason’s sister brought it to me two days later, she asked if a feather had always been in it. But there hadn’t been. I would have seen it when I cleaned it up. And yet, on Friday, a feather was inside.

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Know what I think?

It’s from Cissy.

I think this woman who was tough as steel left an imprint as soft as a feather upon this earth. Thus, I’ll think of Cissy whenever I see it. And I’ll smile. Just like I do with tissues and magazines and newspapers and reading glasses and pajamas and slippers and lotion.

And I’ll become resolute as I recall Cissy’s words. That we are meant to learn important lessons from the things that are most difficult.

And this coming year, I’ll try to follow her footsteps.

Striving to be strong just like her,

battling courageously,

fighting the good fight.

That’s what I’ll do.

If I make a New Year’s Resolution at all, it’ll be to be like her.

The strongest woman I’ve known.

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Me and Cissy, October 2012

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34

 

 

 

The Good Part

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How best to describe marriage? In my humble opinion, I’d have to say the opening lines of The Tale of Two Cities sums it up best. At least it seems to paint the picture of marriage’s early days. Or perhaps it just describes ours…

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…” Charles Dickens

Wow. That’s it. See, there’s a reason you vow to take your other half “for better or for worse.” Because believe me, the worst comes. And faster than you think. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOh, at first there’s bliss… all smiles as your stomach dips and dives and flutters. Like here. But see, we weren’t even engaged at this point. And bad days were few and far in between. Likely because I tried to present my good side. All the time. Oh, Jason had a glimpse of the other me. But usually he got the good part. He got the best of me. But then (queue music in the background, please), the ring was slipped on my finger. Next thing you know, this happened…

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In the midst of Cozumel, Mexico, on the tail end of our honeymoon, the other side of me made an appearance. The bad part showed up and she’s all over my face. Jason snapped this picture after one of our many heated conversations. Seems he had planned to do something the following weekend, sans newly wedded wife, and I was not about to let that happen. No way, bub.

That was the first time I got my way. Seven days into our marriage, Jason was the first to give in. Because everyone’s heard a happy wife makes for a happy life. Or something like that.

A good woman

This may come across as shocking but when I first entered marriage, I considered divorce to be an option. My thought was if it doesn’t work out, I could just leave. And the truth is when I said, “I do,” I didn’t realize the gravity of what I was doing. As a twenty-five year old, I couldn’t comprehend what marriage really was. Because the word covenant wasn’t part of my vocabulary. A spoken vow nothing more than words. I just had no clue…

Needless to say, we had some rough patches as two young kids came together as one. We both had our ways. Our idiosyncrasies. Our ideas. Thus, there were points of conflict in our merging. A couple incidents stand out vividly. Like the time I walked out without a word for an entire evening because I didn’t agree with Jason’s choice of restaurant for the next day’s outing. I went to see American Beauty and came home to find Jason fast asleep. The next morning, I stayed in my bathrobe till he gave in. I hopped in the shower when he called our friends to change the venue.

A couple years later, I decided there was something I wanted to change about my mate. I believe that was the one time he was just as stubborn as me, though. A cold silence followed for two or three days. I actually caved first and tentatively approached him at his place of work. But He was firm. No, he wasn’t going to change and if I couldn’t accept him as he was, he said I should just leave. I went back home in silence. And tears.

But here we are… seventeen years later. We persevered. We remain as one. And I have to give Jason most of the credit for it. Because truth is, he took on a lot when he took me to be his. Unfortunately, I carried a lot of excess baggage into our lives. Old stuff that would have been best left behind. Yep… when Jason said, “I do,” he didn’t really get the good woman he deserved. Instead, he got me.

Remembering the Salsa

Sunday was one of those days. Ironic in how bad it was (or I was) in light of all my recent writings on the good life. Embracing the good. I think I was just trying to talk myself into it. That if I said it out loud enough times, and read it that much more, my demeanor would change. That I would find myself in a good mood. Instead, Sunday happened.

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and there was loudness in our home. All me. Words spoken and looks given and ugly gestures. Again, all me. Finally, with a sigh we all settled into the car for church. Jason said, “Well this has been a lovely Sunday morning.” At church, I pasted on my smile. I nodded and laughed and smiled and played the part. Though my loved ones at home got the worst of me, I tried to give all the others the best. I made more of an effort.

Afterward, we heard a dedication on the radio. Some guy really talked up his mate. It was nice, I guess. But when Jason said, “Now that sounds like a good woman,” I took great offense. I was ready for a fight… “What are you saying, that I’m not a good woman?” I jabbed but he ducked. He didn’t throw a punch as expected.

The grand finale was Big Lots’ parking lot. Miscommunication. I thought he was going to meet me in the store. He thought I was to come outside when I finished. So I struggled with Annabelle who did not want to ride in the cart. I held her and pushed the cart and flung items in the basket. All the while, I was getting more and more heated.

Finally, I looked outside. And there was my husband playing a game on his phone. At ease and relaxed. That’s when it happened. To use my Daddy’s term, I flew mad. I flew right out of that store, Annabelle in arm, and lost it in front of whoever may have been passing. I forcefully jerked the door open and cried, “What are you doing??”

But Jason, he’s a good man. He didn’t get loud in return. He calmly took Annabelle into his arms (I’d plopped her onto the passenger seat), and exited the car without returning my ugly gestures. He joined me in the store. That’s what Jason did.

But later, I know my mate was thinking about me and my bad attitude. Because he called to me from where he lay as I performed my kitchen duties. He asked me if I remembered making salsa.  Of course I remembered making it. I figured it was something to add to my enormous to-do list. “Do you want me to make salsa?”

But no, that’s not what Jason meant. He reminded me that when I made salsa, it usually meant I was happy. Remember the salsa meant remember your good mood. And so that’s what I did. I remembered the salsa. What led up to it and what came afterward.

The good part

Throughout our years, Jason and I did a lot of entertaining. Enter the salsa. If I were to make salsa, you can be sure company was coming. And I loved it. I lived from one gathering to the next and I loved all the preparations that went along with it. I’d put on music and dance and sing. And I was happy.

But our lives changed when two turned to three. Then three turned to four. And what once seemed like fun turned into nothing more than a chore. Salsa became a job when kids made the scene because I had so many other things to do. This is what I ponder as I consider the salsa.

See, motherhood is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Because you give away parts of yourself 24 hours a day. As soon as your feet hit the ground, you start doling out the pieces. A sliver here and a slice there. And before you know it, you find you’re depleted with nothing left to offer. Nothing but the scowl on your face as you chop veggies at the counter. Like me this past Sunday.

But only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her. Luke 10:42

Problem is there’s been sickness at our house. Nighttime interruptions and extra tasks. And because my days have been full and sleep has been lacking, I’ve looked for other places to trim the fat. Seems I took out the wrong thing, though. I cut away the good part. Which reminds me of Martha and Mary.

Most of us are familiar with these sisters, I’m sure. But in reading their saga today, I cannot help but think Martha had a flying mad moment. Just like me at Big Lots. She was busy preparing for a party and her sister just sat there doing nothing. Martha even voiced her complaint to Jesus. Tell her to give me a hand! But He said Mary chose the good part. She sat still at his feet. What’s more, she listened.

This is the part I cut away. I’ve not been doing this. Busy with other stuff. Like Martha. And because I haven’t filled up on the good part, there’s not much good in me to pass out. Especially not to my family. Most assuredly, they haven’t been getting the best of me.

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A good man

A couple of weeks ago, I had an epiphany. One of those pivotal moments in time that changes how you look at everything. It has to do with my husband. And most importantly, it has to do with how I see God.

You planned evil against me; God planned it for good… Genesis 50:20 

See, Jason came into my life when I was at a real low. And it was my bad that propelled me in his direction. However, Jason became a turning point in every way imaginable. Most poignantly, I see that through the meaning of his name: one who will heal.

By the time I got to Jason, this is what I needed. Healing. Because there wasn’t much left of my heart. Simply, I’d given too much of it away. Sadly, this is what I brought to our marriage table.

And so I find it miraculous I met Jason when I did. On the heels of having my heart broken again and again. Because through him, a good man, I found another Good Man. I found God.

Jason’s the reason I met the One who came to bind up the brokenhearted. But the healing of my heart wasn’t, and isn’t, an instant fix. Because at first it wasn’t noticeable. Not to me. Not when there was just two. But then came Levi and Annabelle. And the added stress and responsibility exposed my heart’s faulty cracks.

IMG_2070Annabelle’s her name. She is a living dream. But also… she’s one of the reasons I’ve been at wit’s end lately. Strained. Because she fights every single thing I do. She resists. Clothes and diaper changes and hair brushing. All of it. Everything is a struggle. And like me, she’s loud. Oh, it’s downright exhausting. And yet, I love her through it all.

About a year ago, I thought I’d comprehend God’s love for me through my love for my daughter. But last month, I realized I was wrong. It’s not Annabelle who’ll teach me about God and his unwavering love. Instead, it’ll be the one who’s been at my side for seventeen years now. Even longer.

It’s Jason. It’s always been Jason. One who will heal. When he asked about my past, he didn’t condemn me. Rather, he opened his arms wide and embraced me. He accepted every single thing about me.

And through the years, he’s put up with a lot. Oh, he’s not perfect and has moments of his own. But all in all, he is the one who’s been the most gracious. The most merciful. He is the one who usually relents first. The one who breaks the silence. Who calms the storm. He’s loves me so much better than I love him. Because he’s unconditional.

My great epiphany is this… if I want to get an idea of what God is really like, I need to look no further than my other half. My better half. Jason shows me every day what God is like.

It’s through this good man of mine that God has so richly blessed me. And how He will teach me about Himself. Miraculous.

I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. Hosea 2:19

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Crazy thing about women. It’s in our nature to give and give. But sometimes, we end up giving it all to everyone else. By the time the day is through, our family ends up with the leftovers. Table scraps. And this ought not be! So today I try to rectify that.

With me, it’s words. I use them to build others up. But what about that good man of mine? Have I really used this platform to do the same for him? Because this is what I do. So today, I take the opportunity. And it’s timely. See, it’s Jason’s birthday month. And I always have trouble finding a gift. But not this year. My present comes early. It’s good news…

I tell my husband God is working on my heart every single day. And I know what I need to do. I have to fill up on the good part first. That way there will be more of me to give. And one day, when my heart is made whole, it will be all his. Just as the fragments already are.

The best part, though, has to do with our vows. For better or for worse. See, worse is turning to better. And the best of me is yet to come. Soon I’ll be able to reciprocate by giving all of me just as he gives all of himself. And isn’t that what marriage is, anyway? The best of times. The worst of times. And through it all, giving the best we have. But to each other first.

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If anyone else has read this far, I ask for a prayer today. For me and for wives everywhere. That we would love our husbands to the utmost of our ability. And that we would give them the best of us. All of us.

Because good men are hard to find. And they’re worth a prayer. And so much more…

Maybe even salsa.

In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to much wine. They are to teach what is good, so they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children,  to be self-controlled, pure, homemakers, kind, and submissive to their husbands, so that God’s message will not be slandered. Titus 2:3-5

 

The other side of motherhood.

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This picture makes me smile. Because she’s just like me. I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Seinfeld and the crazy characters the show portrayed over the years, but this girl sticks with me. I refer to her as the “frankfurter girl.” Because that was her ultimate breakdown. She would cry at the drop of a hat. Literally. And when she dropped her hot dog, tears ensued. She cried over just about everything. Another episode that hasn’t left me is the one where Jerry, the comedian, tried to be utterly serious and dark at his friend’s request. And it’s these two, the frankfurter girl and serious Jerry, of which I cannot help but see a resemblance to me. Way too serious and too much waterworks. Not enough joy and laughter. And I so miss my laughter. It used to burst forth from the depths of my belly. My mom even had to tell me to stop once. She thought I was choking. Often, I’d laugh so hard tears sprung from my eyes. But now, it’s another kind. Frankfurter girl tears. Evidently, I’m not as dry as I thought. But rather than springs of living water flowing from within, it’s wellsprings of tears that spew forth.

But you know, I already know why the tears. And I’ve known for quite some time now. Basically, I cry because dying is hard. That’s what I’ve been trying to do. Die to self. But it hurts. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do. And despite progress here and there, pieces of me still hold to what I consider my own. And as I read in the book of Luke, I find this is a killer. For whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. Holding too tightly to my wants, my agenda, is killing me. I’m snuffing the life right out of me and quenching the Spirit. And the fight has been lengthy. In truth, the battle began in earnest over seven years ago. Coincidentally, that’s when I had my son.

I love my child, it’s true. I ache over his own struggles. I long for him. And I’d do anything for him. At least I think I would. But in consideration of doing anything for him, I have to honestly say that I don’t think I have. Not completely. Because the truth is that at the birth of my child, someone else was birthed too. For an incredibly self-seeking woman drew breath the moment my precious, baby boy first drew his own. That’s when selfishness rudely inserted itself into my heart and soul. Which is so surprising. I always thought I was generous at heart, but the truth began to emerge in 2006. That’s when the very real battle of self began. It was then, when I had my son.

Before my child, I had no cares in the world, really. It was just me and my husband, and we did whatever we wanted. But then, there was a baby. And my son needed me unlike anyone had ever ever needed me before. And I just have to say, this was a bit overwhelming to me. For I’m not a natural. I didn’t slide gracefully into motherhood. I was terrified and couldn’t sleep for fear that he would stop breathing. And I was never sure of what he really needed. Never. I believe I spent that first year guessing. And juggling because I began to work from home. God blessed me with both a baby and a new home-based job within months but these gifts also became my biggest trials. It was hard to balance a new baby with work because it was always there in front of me. And being the type-A person that I am, I had my own ideas about how and when I should work. But nothing ever went according to plan. Every day was different as the cries of my hungry infant rivaled the blip of incoming work emails. And this is where darkness began to fall.

Those first years were hard and now I have so much regret. Because my little boy learned way to early what it means to be happy and sad. This was evidenced by a visit to my hometown when he was about two or so. I felt happy, so I called him to me for a kiss. Afterwards, he waddled over to his me-maw and pulled out his pacifier to say, “Mama’s happy.” Even at that tender age, he could tell when I was up. I can’t tell you how many times I wish I could go back there to get my priorities straight. How often I’ve wished I could undo things I’ve done. Or not done. Because now I see it clearly. Despite love for my baby, there was also the love for myself. And so, I began to cling. I began to construct, but walls consisted of agenda and structure and rigidity and organization. These flimsy walls never lasted. And because my wants seemed to fall by the wayside, I became stingy with my time. I began the game of comparison… my list of to-do’s seemed more lengthy than my dear husbands (at least through the inward glasses I wore). And resentment deposited its seed. Bitterness flourished while I diminished. As I said, I have regret. So much I wish I could un-do. Or re-do.

So many moments that started off like this…

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Turned to moments like this…

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And sadly, there’s no turning back time. But I do have today. Not surprisingly, I find myself in pretty much the same place. Almost eight years later, I’m still fighting the same fight… building flimsy walls made of agenda and structure and rigidity and organization. The only difference is the ping of an incoming work email is rivaled by the wail of a seven year old. But you know, there is knowledge. You do learn as you go. For I know that I’m the very one who boxes myself in. Today, I see that the self-imposed rules and timelines I’ve surrounded myself with will not hold me up. This semblance of a schedule I try to maintain actually contributes to my downfall. For the foundation and structure I’ve so carefully laid out is in fact unsteady. And clinging to these unsound walls paves the way to instability.

Today I have realization. I have clarity. And often, revelation comes through the face of the little boy who stares back at me. In him, I see me. Oh, he loves to laugh. He loves to be silly and his laughter wells up from deep within. Wellsprings of mirth. But also, there’s another side to him. There are frowns and creased brow. There are sighs. And my fear is that I’m turning him into a mini-me. Because I box him in. I impose my agenda and rigidity and organization upon him. And rightfully so, as I’m his mother. But see, I’m a type-A personality. And as I tend to do, I go over-board. This past Sunday the perfect example…

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. John 3:8

It was picture day. Little league baseball boys all in a row having their picture snapped. But, oh, the wind. It was so gusty. They laughed and giggled as the wind made their eyes tear. They grabbed to their hats to keep them from blowing away. They were delighted. And sure enough, the wind blew hats half way across the field. I could hear my son’s laughter floating on the air as he sank down to his knees, grabbing the rolling hat. I went after him. I didn’t enter his euphoria, though. Instead, I focused on his grass stained pants. See, rather than embrace the moment and cling to the joy that was set before me, I saw only what had to be done. I saw how another load of wash would affect my carefully laid out plans. And so, I utterly missed the moment. What could have been a blessed memory becomes a dark spot in my past. Yet one more regret… one more time I wish I could have a do-over. Why, oh why, didn’t I just laugh with him?

You know, structure is a good thing. But if it controls you, it can have the opposite effect. If rigidity boxes you in, then it’s time to tear down the walls. And if life is snuffed out and the Spirit is quenched because things just don’t go your way, then priorities need to be evaluated. At least this is true for me. I know I am not meant to be boxed in. God wants me to be fluid, malleable, and yielding. It’s almost as if what God said to King David, He says to me:

Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’ 2 Samuel 7:5-7

God moves. His Spirit moves. And I’m supposed to be the same. He did not order me to construct my rigid walls. He did not tell me to box myself in by unattainable goals. And He did not say to chain myself to self-imposed rules and regulations. Because He knows that will be the death of me. The wrong kind of death… Spirit quenched. And because I hold to the wants and desires that drive my laid out plans, I am still holding to my life. I’m still battling myself. This is me putting myself first. Not my son. And if I say I would do anything for him, wouldn’t I do this one thing? Why can’t I just surrender? God help me.

Yes, it’s true. Dying is hard. It’s been a seven year battle. And there have been tears and failure… skirmishes lost. But the battle is not yet over. I still have today. Despite more regrets than I can count, it’s not too late. But rather than dwell on days gone by, I can live in the moment and look to the future. Because as my son wisely put it, “There’s no reset button.” And he’s so right. I may not be able to un-do or re-do what’s done, but I can surely redeem the time that’s left. For life remains within my son. The Spirit bubbles up alongside giggles of delight. Oh, he may frown from time to time, but he hasn’t lost his smile, or his laugh, yet. And the good news is, through him, I think I’ll find my own. I shall laugh again. A spring of living water flowing from within…

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The significance of a bracelet…

“Set up signposts,
Make landmarks;
Set your heart toward the highway,
The way in which you went.
Turn back, O virgin of Israel,
Turn back to these your cities.
How long will you gad about,
O you backsliding daughter?
For the Lord has created a new thing in the earth—
A woman shall encompass a man.” Jeremiah 31:21-22

I lost a bracelet Friday. It wasn’t valuable monetarily and it was really quite simple. Nonetheless, it was priceless to me. For this wasn’t just any bracelet. It was the one I had worn for nearly twenty years. I was twenty-one when my friend, Carmen, gave it to me. And sadly, I lost touch with her long ago. But then, we were inseparable. She gave me the thin, silver band as a parting gift before she moved to Germany. And I was delighted with the piece of jewelry. For many reasons, I guess.

Me and Carmen… Oklahoma… 1994

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In think one reason I adored that bracelet stemmed from my high school days. I just didn’t have a lot of jewelry. Unlike my best friend, who had amazing jewelry. A lot of it. I confess, I was nearly green with envy. Oh, how I coveted her silver collection. Not to mention her make-up, stuffed closet and CD collection. Yep. I did a lot of coveting my junior and senior years. I wanted what she had. And so, when my friend gave me a lovely piece of jewelry, I don’t think she knew how much it would mean to me.  I added it to the few pieces I already owned… some inexpensive earrings, a few bracelets, two silver rings and a class ring. Oh, there was one diamond ring. However, one of the diamonds was missing. That’s a story for another day.

And so, there was a bracelet. A thin, silver band. At first, although I wore it often, I didn’t wear it every day. But over time, I began to wear it more and more. Eventually, I began to sleep in it, bathe in it, swim in it. I lived with that bracelet attached to me. It became a part of me. Oh, I may have added another bracelet to my wrist alongside the first. But Carmen’s bracelet stayed put. It was rare that I didn’t have it on. In fact, it was a few months back when I thought I should remove it. I took it off for a while, but it felt unnatural. I felt naked, and so the piece of silver quickly made its way back to its rightful home. And there it stayed. A piece of me. Until Friday when I lost it.

In thinking back on my journeys, I realize that bracelet did some traveling, too. It was such a part of me, in fact, that it’s attached to many significant moments in my life. It was there when I went to Korea…

Korea… 1994-1995

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The bracelet adorned my wrist when I moved to Savannah and fell in love.

Savannah, GA… 1996

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It was there when we dated, when he proposed to me, and during our engagement.

Fall 1996                                                                   October 1997

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Winter 1998

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Then there were the days before the wedding. Look closely and you’ll see the bracelet remained. Through the shower and the day before I said, “I do.” The bracelet was a part of me. A part of my life.

Spring 1998

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Me & mom, June 1998            My mother-in-law made my dress

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The bracelet held fast to my arm through the honeymoon… and even when the honeymoon was over, for we had our first marital tiff.

                      June 1998                                                  Scowl on face, July 1998

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The bracelet endured… through our first two moves.

                Pennsylvania, 1999-2000                                     New York, 2000-2001

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There were special occasions… like my high school reunion. By the way, this is me and my dear friend. She had all the cool jewelry when we were seniors. And I know for fact that she still does as we just had lunch recently.

Virginia, 2001

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There were more moves, more occasions, more events, more life. Me and my bracelet…

                             North Carolina, 2001                     Another part of NC, Karaoke party for one, 2003-2004

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First (only) cruise, Spring 2005                         Labor Day weekend with Daddy, 2005

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The bracelet was always there. Even for the miracle of new life.

2006… expectancy

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2006… sheer exhaustionDSCF0625DSCN16832006…. baby dedication. More exhaustion as evidenced by bags under eye.

And then, the tiredness waned. The fun began. The bracelet stayed put.

2006, laughs DSCN2003HPIM0195_00822007, sips

2007, walks DSCN2897

I wore that bracelet on vacations…

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And I wore it when my deepest desire became reality. God sent me back home. After six months, we settled in a house in my home town. And within a year, we put down roots.

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2010 – 2013

All these pictures evidence the journey of my life. And the significance of a bracelet? It was a part of me. Always. It was there for everything. From Oklahoma to Korea to Georgia to North Carolina to Pennsylvania to New York. Back to multiple locations in North Carolina and ultimately… Virginia. My home. And so on Friday, when I looked down and found the bracelet wasn’t where it should be, I was surprised. It was as if part of me was gone. But rather than sadness that something valuable to me was lost… I felt expectant. Rather than grieve over a thin piece of silver that held so many good memories… I look forward instead. Because I believe I’m supposed to.

You know… I haven’t written since January 17. It was just before my birthday and I wrote about the significance of the date… January 22, 1973. Roe v. Wade. And then, eleven years later came sanctity of human life Sunday. The day of my birth is fraught with significance. And so, I shared about my past. I told of things I had done that I wish I hadn’t. And I realized it’s those things I’ve been carrying with me all this time. Along with the good, it’s regret that’s been attached to the bracelet… attached to me. I just didn’t know it. Because for so many years, I thought I was fine. And in looking at these pictures, I look fine. I look happy. But smiles are only skin deep and brokenness can be hidden. And all of this has come to the forefront of my heart and mind these past few weeks. And I find that through the insignificant act of losing a bracelet, I find a promise. I find significance.

So much has taken place in a matter of days… so much deep within that words fail me. And so, all I can do is tell about a bracelet. A bracelet… fraught with significance. Priceless in that it held so many memories. All those good ones displayed above. And yet, the rest of my past was attached to the thin, silver band as well. From a covetous heart to a couple of years I wish I could undo. See, the bracelet was a part of me. It held fast to my arm before I returned home, before I had my baby and before I met my husband. The bracelet was there for those things I don’t want to remember. All that regret. And yet, I wore it always. It was part of me. Until Friday. And so, January 31, 2014 becomes significant. As significant as the bracelet I lost. Because in the removal of a silver band that held me to my past, I find that I am now free to move forward. Expectant once again.

Look, I am about to do something new;
even now it is coming. Do you not see it?
Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert
. Isaiah 43:19

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You are not alone!

When I was nineteen, we were three. There was Shannon and Gracie and me, and we were always together. I loved them fully, and when they were with me… I was never lonely. Because I had my best friends. And I can’t remember if it was when I still lived at home, or when I joined the Air Force that we gave each other pet names. Shannon was pretty much the leader and was christened “Wise One.” Gracie, who was petite and quiet natured, became “Little One.” And me? For reasons I can’t recall, I was “Lonely One.” I had forgotten that till just this morning. Loneliness… it touched me then and it’s touched me now. And so I see, this must be a recurring pattern in my life.

I am convinced that there are no accidents or coincidences. I fully believe that we find ourselves in circumstances over and over again… until we get it. And so, rather than sweep this unwelcome feeling under the rug by filling my life with as much activity and business as I can possibly manage, I want to understand this feeling. Why should I be lonely? As I contemplate the last two blogs, it’s apparent that I am. I am once more that vulnerable young girl of nineteen… once more, I am “Lonely One.” God has brought me to a place where I am surrounded by silence. In more ways than one. I work from home, and rarely get out amongst people. And as time passes, the once frequent voices of old friends have almost completely hushed and stilled altogether. And then there’s God. I haven’t been hearing from Him lately. And so, loneliness has nestled down into my heart once more… I am utterly, “Lonely One.”

You know, I don’t think we’re made to be alone. God Himself is three in One. He is Father, and Son and Holy Spirit. He said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” And after man was created, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is like him.” After Eve made an appearance, man said, “This one, at last, is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called woman, for she was taken from man.” It’s Genesis 2:24 that says “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.” And so, there was Adam and Eve… and God Himself chose to fellowship with them. He walked with them in the cool of the garden.. they were three.

I believe it was after I met my husband when I began to refer to myself as, “Lonely One No More.” See, we became one flesh, and for quite some time I was filled. But, as time wore on, I had bouts of loneliness. First, we moved away from family and it was just us. We did make friends at first, but when one moved turned into another, and then another… well, new friendships waned. My husband worked long hours and was away most evenings and weekends. My karaoke machine became my best friend, as I had a party for one just about every Friday night. My telephone was my other best friend because I made frequent calls to those I loved and missed. We were three, my Karaoke machine, my phone, and me.

Loneliness began to fill my soul as the years marched on. And so, today I’m surprised that I find myself here. Because I am in my homeland… surrounded by family members. I have a wonderful husband and a beautiful child. I have been blessed. And yet, “Lonely One” is etched on my heart. And this time, I want to know why.

Here is truth. In all the years that I spent away from family and loved ones, I was never, ever alone. Because what Jesus told His followers holds true today… “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17. I have the Spirit with me and in me today, just as I did all those years ago. And all those years did not have to be forlorn. They could have been magical! There could have been so many special moments for just God and me. I could have shared hours of intimate fellowship… with God. But I chose not to. And I think that’s why I find myself here today. Thus the silence. I believe God wants me to know… I do not need to be lonely. He wants me to take the truth out of my head and let it seep deep into those lonely black holes of my heart. And it’s not just me that needs to know this. For we are not alone. That means you are not alone!

I have a choice… I know when the dark times are coming. I can feel them hovering on the outer edges of my contentment. And I can do one of two things. I can invite loneliness to my pity party for one (and whether I acknowledge it or not – both God and my husband are in attendance anyway). Or, I can cancel the party. I can ignore what God is telling me, or, I can let the truth of what He says settle into my heart. See, my husband and I are one flesh. And I have the Spirit of the living God residing in me. And so, I am not alone. God, my husband, and me… we’re three. I can be “Lonely One No More” if I want to be. And you? Only you can answer that. But if you have God the Father through Jesus the Son, then the Spirit of the living God is in you, too. That makes you two, and two are better than one.

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

The Engagement Period

“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:6-9

I remember the days before my wedding. A lot of preparation and excitement and eager anticipation. And the day of, I wanted to look my best because I was soon to be joined to the one I love… as one flesh. In the early days, before we were even engaged, he was the one I wanted to be with. ALL THE TIME. At work, I thought about Him. As soon as I got home, I’d call him and arrange a time to meet. I’d shower and prep and fly to him and not leave him until I had to. We talked about everything and I would hold his hand. I would shower him with kisses, and hug him as tight as I could. I clung to him afraid to let go. See, I held fast to the one I loved.

Then came the wedding, and days of bliss followed. But then, reality set in. I realized that a relationship with the one I love took a little work. It was not all sunshine and roses. In fact, many days were like thunderstorms and thorns. We had to adjust to each other. And honestly, there was a time or two that I didn’t know if we would make it. But thankfully, we’re together today… our bond stronger than ever. Our relationship has endured the test of time, and I cannot imagine being apart from him. For He’s my husband… we are as one.

So… what about God? He tells me that He is my Husband. Can I honestly say I have felt the same about Him? And what about Jesus? The church is the bride of Christ, which makes Him the Bridegroom. So have I eagerly run to Jesus in the same manner I flew to my earthly mate? Have I wholly devoted myself to Him, as I have done with my tangible husband? As I burned for my fiancé so many years back, have I been overtaken by an all consuming fire for Jesus? Because the reality is, this is our engagement period and I should be consumed by Him. This is the time for getting to know Him. And until that glorious Day when He returns, it will continue to be the time for getting to know Him. I should be pursuing Him every bit as much as I pursued my husband if not more so. Because I made a commitment to Him when I received Him into my heart. For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I committed to Him until that Day (2 Timothy 1:12).

You know, Jesus is there waiting for me to turn to Him. The fact is He is my first Love, but over time my heart grew cold. Because I allowed myself to be seduced by the world and all she has to offer. See, the world beckons to her lovers every day and if we’re not careful, we’ll be unfaithful to the One we’re betrothed to. Because the lure of status, the demands of self, the desire for material gain, and the cravings for earthly pleasures are hard to resist. “For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…” 2 Timothy 3:2-4.

God demands our loyalty and undivided love. We should love Him with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind. But is all of our heart available to offer Him? The fact is, most of us have been wooed away by other lovers. Most of us are actively committing adultery against the One who loves us the most. That means we’re harlots. And God has stern words of warning for harlots. However, His mercies are new every morning. Each day we have another chance to be faithful to the One who is Faithful and True. We simply must choose to nurture our relationship with Him by giving Him the attention He so deserves. This is the only way we can get to know Him… the relationship.

For quite some time now, I’ve been on a mission to know God and what He requires and expects of me. But now I see that I’ve been going about it all wrong. Because I’ve been trying to work out a formula to follow God’s commands. So dogmatic have I been about my regimen, I’ve left no room for the spontaneity of a relationship with Him. And because I’ve forgotten the simplicity of relationship, walking and talking and listening, I’ve bypassed His love! Because I’ve been focused on the routine. And you know, love should be the foundation of our relationship. And it is on His part for I know He loves me. Christ is the proof of His love. But what about my love? How can I love Him with all my heart, and all my soul and all my mind when my love is limited, having been doled out on other lovers?

We’ve all heard, “If you love something set it free; if it returns its yours forever, if not, it was never meant to be.” You know, it’s kind of like that with God, because He leaves it up to us as to whether or not we’ll return to our first Love. The decision is ours to make. Will we return to Him? Or will we doggedly pursue other lovers… false lovers… lovers who offer unspeakable pleasures…. lovers we seek relentlessly and passionately, but never lay claim to. Although it’s our nature to turn from Him, we’re fortunate in that it’s His nature to call us back. Throughout the pages of Scripture He calls out, “Return to me…” And He does the same today. See, no matter what we do, God will always love us and He’ll always quietly call us back to Him. Although He sets us free in that He allows us to make our own choices, He will never utterly let us go. Because He remains faithful to the unfaithful. Because He loves us more than we could possibly imagine.

And so, I will rest in the prayer of Jesus. His prayer was that He would be in us, and the Father in Him… complete unity… like a marriage. My prayer is that I will forsake my false lovers, so that I may return to Him with my whole heart. My prayer is that through a real relationship with God, I will come to know Him. And in knowing Him, I will love Him… my Betrothed. With all my heart, and with all my soul and with all my mind. And today is the day to get to know Him… for it’s our engagement period.

I in them and you in meso that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” John 17:23-26

 

A Love Story

“I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal, when you went after Me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.” Jeremiah 2:2

He said, “I know you by name, and you have found grace in My sight.” So she asked Him, “Show me Your way, that I may know You. Please show me Your glory…” And so, He lovingly took her by the hand and led her through the valley, through the desert… His presence ever before her. He brought her into a bountiful country, to eat of its fruit and its goodness. But when she entered, she defiled the land. She committed two evils… she forsook her Love as she took to her bosom many lovers. She conceived and bore Him children of harlotry. He named them No Mercy and Not my People. He said to them, “Bring charges against your mother, for she is not My wife, nor am I her Husband!” He said, “Let her put away her harlotries from her sight.”

And so, He turned His face away from her for a time, as she chased after her many lovers. And although she pursued them, she never overtook them. Yes, she sought them, but she never laid claim to them. And so, she remembered. She said, “I will go and return to my first Husband. For then it was better for me than it is now.” And He took her back. Although she forgot Him and went after her lovers, He allured her back to Him. He spoke comfort to her. In that day, she sang… as in the days of her youth… as in the days of her early betrothal. And it became as it was before… she again called Him her Husband.

He betrothed her to Him forever… He betrothed her to Him in righteousness, in justice, in lovingkindness, and in mercy. He is the One who betrothed her to Him… in faithfulness. He lovingly told her, “You shall know the LORD.”

**taken from the books of Exodus, Jeremiah and Hosea