I'm just a wife and mother who earnestly desires to grow in my faith and it's demonstration. DISCLAIMER! I have absolutely no problem with women in the clergy. As a matter of fact, I have several female pastors who I consider friends. In my home, the pastor is a male so the pronouns I use to refer to a pastor tend to be male. This is not a statement of any kind. Just a reflection of my every day life!

Archive for December, 2012

Blessings

I’ve been trying to come up with something profound to say in the aftermath of Christmas. Can’t come up with a single profound thing. I think it’s because my mind is too full thinking about the blessings in my life!!

There is a HUGE age difference between my kids and their cousins. I mean my youngest child is 16 and the closest cousin is 10. We’ve been spending the holiday with my baby sister and her family in San Antonio, Texas.  Her oldest child is 8. Like I said- HUGE age difference. They have all done such a great job hanging out this week. Tonight, we did dinner on the Riverwalk and then simply wandered down the river a bit. There were five “kids” ranging from 21 down to 5 in our merry little band and there was not one complaint. When feet started to hurt we simply turned and headed to the vans.

No one in my extended family would claim to be perfect. But tonight I got one perfect experience. We laughed ALOT, enjoyed a great meal – if you’re ever in San Antonio check out Lonestar Cafe – and great conversation. We took pictures both serious and silly and hated to see the evening end.

Like I said, we aren’t perfect. But tonight I got to enjoy watching some kids I’m pretty crazy about enjoying one another and the adults that were there. I was reminded again that I am truly blessed.

Perspective is a Beautiful Thing

I’ve been throwing a bit of a pity party lately. Due to the annual Christmas Eve service at church, and our plan to spend Christmas with my sister’s family in Texas, I will wake up without my husband on Christmas morning. He has to stay home and do the service and will fly in to Texas on Christmas Day. I’m not thrilled with the circumstances. I’m aware that I’ve been pouting  and I’ve been praying for an atttude check.

Then I read a statement on Facebook that reminded me how minor my frustration really is – a friend of mine wished a Merry Christmas to the families of military personnel serving overseas. He expressed gratitude for their sacrifice and wished the families left behind a blessed Christmas. No, my hubby will not be there when we open gifts in the morning but he will be there later and that is better than not having him there at all! Perspective is a beautiful thing.

Time to Rise Up

I’ve started this post a dozen times – either in my head or on the actual computer – and I’ve rejected every attempt.  I don’t want to sound like I’m offering a simple solution to a complex problem and I know that there are those who I would consider brothers and sisters in the faith that may disagree with the stance I am about to take.  But the Holy Spirit will not let me give up on this so I’m back for yet another attempt and hopefully I get it posted this time!

The tragedy in Connecticut is still fresh in my mind.  I have been a teacher, I have children, I have a niece and a nephew in Kindergarten . . . you name it, I can find a connection that moves me to tears!  And I’ve watched so much anger and venom filling social media sites as people scream for answers.  Strong positions have been taken up on both sides of the gun control issue and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the whole issue of 2nd Amendment rights could become a very polarizing issue in our nation.

But I think there is another issue that needs just as much attention.  Maybe more.  It’s time to start talking honestly and openly about mental health issues without shame or fear of harassment.

Churches offer support groups for those recovering from all types of addiction, and some even offer counseling for couples who have been hit by the pain of infidelity on the part of husband or wife.  But for some reason, we still want to sweep mental illness under the rug.  In my research, I came across a research project that looked at school shootings from all over the world – both K-12 schools and colleges – from 1997 through 2012.  The number of shooters who were suffering from mental illness – AND being treated with drugs that are KNOWN to have dangerous side effects for teenagers – is shocking.  Nearly all of the shooters fall into that category.  For me, it leaves no doubt in my mind that a discussion on gun control is incomplete if we don’t address the mental illness that leads them to a place where they take such violent action.

I’ve had a handful of church friends over my 40 + years who have confided in me that they have been diagnosed with some form of mental illness.  They were afraid to do so because, in every single case, they were afraid I would see them as being “spiritually weak” or not having enough faith.  I was (and am) flattered that they trusted me with something so personal.  And it broke my heart to know that their fears were based on actual responses they had gotten from people in the church.

Our church buildings need to become safe places for those with mental illnesses.  We need to love on their families as well.  In the case of children with mental illness issues, the parents can struggle knowing how to ask for help, feeling that they did something wrong to “cause” their child’s illness and fearing that they will be shunned by their church family.

Mental illness is not a sign of spiritual deficiency or a lack of faith.  It is a chemical misfire in the brain.  Nothing more, nothing less.

So what can we do?  Encourage honest, open dialogue about the issue in our Bible Study groups, Sunday School classes, women’s groups, etc.  We need to come along side the families of those who have been diagnosed with a mental illness and offer whatever help we can.  Maybe it’s sitting through a doctor’s appointment with mom or learning the special needs of caring for a dependent child so mom and dad can go out.  Maybe it’s simply sitting with someone and letting them talk.  We need to understand what treatment entails and encourage those undergoing treatment because, from what little I know, it can take time to get the “meds” adjusted and treatment is a lifelong reality.

It’s time to remove the stigma from mental illness and I’m hoping that my brothers and sisters in the faith will rise up and lead the way, making our congregations places of refuge, support, and help for those who face the daily reality of mental illness.

Thought I’d let my hubby’s wise words do the job for me today!

pastorjim86

During this time of year, the phrase, “War on Christmas,” is often used.  Those who use this phrase cite instances in which local governments do not allow nativity scenes to be erected on public property.  One such example this year was in Santa Monica, CA.  (Here is the link to the story: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-1204-santa-monica-nativity-20121204,0,2538664.story)

This decision was made to head off clashes between “atheists and Christian organizations, as well as legal disputes that could become costly to taxpayers.”  The decision that was made did not bar religious displays specifically; it barred “private, unattended displays in the park.”  Those behind the Nativity display took this as an attack on their rights and part of the “war on Christmas.”  

It is neither.  Because of the impending clashes between these groups, the city government took steps to maintain the peace.  The only way to properly do this was to bar unattended displays of any…

View original post 554 more words

From the Heart

Two passages of scripture have been running through my head for the last month or so.  Really, they’ve kind of been chasing each other around in my head!  First one will come to mind, followed almost immediately by the other.  I’ve hesitated to say anything here about it because I’m not sure what to do with the truths contained in the passages.  Not fully sure, anyway.

Psalm 51:10-12

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

And

2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

This last verse is one that I mull over quite often.  Believers are so quick to say that we need to pray for the corrupt path our nation is on and they often quote this verse.  But read it again.  Carefully.  The church is definitely being called to pray.  But not in the way some want to believe

“If my people, who are called by my name” – this is God talking so he’s talking about those who claim to follow him.  In the original, “Old Testament” writing of this, that meant the nation of Israel.  Since God has expanded his family to include non-Jews, it means all those who claim to follow God.

“Will humble themselves and pray (emphasis mine) and turn from their wicked ways” – this about the members of the body confessing their own sins, not standing in as confessors for a nation.  Believers are called to humble themselves, not humiliate those with a different political ideology.

“Then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin (again, emphasis mine) and will heal their land.” – the sin being forgiven here is not the sin of a nation.  It’s the sin of believers who have confessed.

Like I said, still chewing through these two verses and working on what exactly it is I am supposed to take away.  One thing is obvious – personal confession is something that believers are called to do.  I don’t mean beating yourself up or constantly belittling yourself.  I’m talking honesty – “I was wrong.  I violated your principles and I’m sorry.  Please forgive and restore me.”  After all, we have absolutely nothing to lose with confession. I John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

I guess it’s time to see if I’m brave enough to live what I’m learning.  Am I ready to confess and get things right?  Am I ready to own my responsibility and confess regardless of the attitudes and actions of others?   Oh boy.  This might be tougher than I thought!

Image

Couldn’t Have Said It Better!

Couldn't Have Said It Better!

From The Respect Dare author, Nina Roesner.

Look Before You Leap

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
Ephesians 5:31-33

Imagine this scenario – a husband calls his wife shortly after arriving at work to let her know how much he loves her and cherishes their relationship.  She is pleasantly surprised by the unexpected loving gesture and thanks him for his kind words.  This behavior continues throughout the day with text messages, phone calls, tags in his tweets, etc.  She feels fully enveloped in his love before lunch!  When he arrives home, he has a bouquet of her favorite flowers with a note saying “Just because I’m grateful you are mine.”  He insists on taking the family out to dinner so mom doesn’t have to cook or clean up after the meal.  When they arrive home after dinner, he makes her a cup of her favorite tea, sits down next to her and proceeds to engage her in conversation for the majority of the evening.  Suffice it to say, this man has connected significantly, showing love to his wife in numerous ways over the course of a day.

Evening comes and they adjourn to the bedroom.  As they are preparing for bed, a piece of paper falls out of hubby’s pocket, unnoticed by him.  He heads to the bathroom to get a glass of water and she picks it up. When she unfolds it and reads it, she is heartbroken.  At the top of the page is the title “To Make Sure The Wife is ‘In the Mood’ Tonight”.  What follows is a step by step agenda of the day she has just experienced.  She’s devastated.  His declarations of love, his thoughtful gestures, his tender words . . . they were all just a means to an end.

I know many females – myself included – who would be extremely hurt by such an experience (and yes, it’s completely fictional!). But if we set out to show respect to our husbands so that they will behave more lovingly towards us we are doing the exact same thing.

Let’s face it – the Beatles were not quite accurate where marriage is concerned when they sang “All You Need is Love”.  I am very aware that my greatest need in my marriage is love.  But my hubby’s greatest need is respect.  In fact, he can’t feel loved by me if he feels disrespected!  And he doesn’t want to be manipulated by my use of respectful behavior any more than I would want to be manipulated by his use of loving behavior.

Choosing to respect my husband – or trying to get better at it since I am still a work in progress! – is not a decision to make lightly.  I won’t lie – I have attempted such a behavior change in the past because I wanted to get something out of it.  So many books encourage women to be more respectful and hint that this behavior change will, almost without fail, get their hubby to behave more lovingly in return.  In fact, some books stop just shy of offering you an iron clad guarantee!

I’ve learned that there is no such guarantee and it’s wrong to look for one.  I am choosing to work on this respect “thing” because I want to be obedient.  Look at the Ephesians passage again.  “A wife must respect her husband.” Oh, how I wish there was a clause there – “so that her husband will be more loving.”  Or maybe “and then she gets to demand that her husband behave more lovingly”.  Nope.  It just tells me to respect my husband.  No clauses, no exceptions, no guarantees.

He may not respond lovingly.  In fact, if you’ve done well with the respect thing for a few days, your first slip up might earn you an explosive display of temper from your dear hubby.  But that doesn’t give you an out.

I am learning SOOOOO much from Nina Roesner’s book, The Respect Dare.  And the toughest lesson is this – hubby may not respond more lovingly just because I behave more respectfully and it’s not my job to make sure that he does.  I can offer him respect out of a desire to obey God’s plan for marriage but it ends there.  I don’t get to have any expectations of him or the overall tone of my marriage based on my conduct.

This post is not about my relationship specifically.  It’s about a very tough truth that wives need deal with if they are serious about living in a way that is obedient to the passage of scripture quoted at the beginning of this post.

Side note – lest you think this is all one-sided, husbands who choose to behave more lovingly to their spouses in obedience to this verse don’t get to make any demands of her either.  I’m just focusing on wives because . . . well, . . .  I am a wife!

I would highly recommend wives read “The Respect Dare”.  But only if you are serious about changing YOU and not looking for ways to use respect to change your husband.  All that does is make you manipulative and him resentful.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: