Monday, March 31, 2014

Writing Your Story

"Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do."
I Thessalonians 5:11

In my endeavor to read the Bible through this year,
I recently came to the end of Deuteronomy and started into the book of Joshua.
I got to thinking about Moses and how he recorded all of that information for us....
in the Pentateuch...those vital first five books of the Old Testament.
Do you realize that if he hadn't have kept good records 
and minded the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God,
we would not have any written account of what really happened at creation?
We would not have details of the patriarchs and their lives,
no information concerning Noah and the flood
or the first years of mankind and their genealogy.

Since Moses followed God's will and plan for his life,
we have answers to so many plaguing questions concerning our origin and the beginning of time.

Thank God, he was faithful.

And what about all of the others who picked up writing instruments and parchment
and wrote the details down?
Think of the stories we would miss, had they failed to document their lives!
Joshua and his conquests into the land of Canaan,
stories of King Saul's rise and fall, King David's sins, forgiveness, and God-like heart,
 King Solomon's extraordinary God-given wisdom and the magnificence of his kingdom,
Esther's courageous spirit, selflessness, and love for her people,
Daniel's night in the lion's den and his amazing prophetic revelations,
the fiery trial and deliverance of three Hebrew children,
the beautifully romantic love story of Ruth and Boaz,
all of the prophecies spoken by the minor and major prophets,
and the amazing accuracy of the details they foretold concerning our Messiah's life, anguish, and death.

And the New Testament!
Oh, just think of the possibility of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John failing to record
the life and times of our precious Lord and Savior?
What if there were no "red letters" registered and preserved?
What if we had no written account of what He was really like?
What if there were no transcription of His parables...His comfort....His words of life?
And Paul....what if the Apostle Paul had never written those epistles...
those letters that now help to guide and mold so many of the details of our daily lives?
What if John the Revelator had kept the revelation all to himself?

Moving forward to modern day, I'm still thinking of Elisabeth Elliot's, "Through Gates of Splendor".
What if she had never minded God and written this book?
What if the story of her husband Jim and his four missionary friends had never been told?

What if John Bunyan had never chronicled his personal vision that we now know as
"The Pilgrim's Progress"?

We all have a story to tell, do we not?
Our tests are not without purpose.
God wants to turn them into our testimonies.
Your messes...and mine...are not unredeemable.
God wants to transform them into our message.

You have a story to tell.
Your life is unique.
Your experiences are all your own.
Your trials, tribulations, triumphs, temptations, victories, and yes, even your failures,
make up the story of you....
and someone needs to hear it.
You have received His comfort...not for the sole purpose of personal solace, 
but so you are able to comfort them which are in any trouble,
by the comfort wherewith you yourself have been comforted of God.
(2 Corinthians 1:3,4)

Your story needs to be told, my friend.
God wants to use every comforted moment of your life 
to equip you to comfort and reach out to others.

My sister, Debbie, and I talk of this often.
She has been through so much in her life.
God has brought her through some pretty intense situations
that have left her with an amazing story to tell.
Her trials and heartaches have empowered her with 
an amazing capacity for compassion and empathy for others.
I believe her story will help many,
because this world is full of hurting people, 
and she can relate on so many widely-varying levels.
I have been encouraging her for quite a while to write her story down
so others can read it and find comfort in knowing that she has overcome incredible odds,
and she is still standing....still going on....still remaining strong.
She recently started a blog of her own called "Compassionate Thoughts By Debbie".

She is still getting it set up, but she has written a few posts that I would love for you to read.
I look forward to hearing and reading what God places on her heart and leads her to share with the world.
I know He has great things in store for her and this ministry!

Please click here to be re-directed to her blog.

It know it is hard to take those first steps....
to open reveal deep hurts.
Sometimes re-telling stories is like re-opening old wounds and re-living those painful seasons.

It takes a deep level of surrender to God to reach a place of willingness
to make ourselves so transparently vulnerable.

But, God didn't bring any of us this far for us to stay quiet and keep it all inside.
He had a Divine purpose for bringing each of us through so many hard places in life.

Living through life-scenarios enables us to relate to others, because we have lived those situations.
It is so powerful to be able to look into anguished eyes and say from the heart,
"I've been there...right where you are now.  I made it through, and you will, too".
Being able to say these words offers so much hope and is like throwing a lifeline 
to the one who is now drowning in despair.

Only eternity will really reveal the impact of any one, individual life.

You may think your story isn't worth telling.
Maybe you see only failure as you look back in retrospect.
Perhaps you see only tangled threads as you peer into the tapestry of your life.

God sees something else, my friend.
He sees a precious soul...that part of you buried deep...under the surface.
He knows how hard you try.
He is aware of your longings.

Remember the poem by Corrie Ten Boom about the tapestry of our life?

“Life is but a Weaving” (the Tapestry Poem)

“My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.”

There is that quote!!  At the end!
I was looking for the author of that the other day when I inserted it in a blog post.
I had no idea it was Corrie who wrote it.
I have admired her ever since I first learned her story in school.

What if she had never told it?
What if The Hiding Place had never been written?
Think how much we would have missed!

The ugly threads that are woven into the tapestry of our lives seem to us 
to serve no purpose for good.
But, they are necessary.
Many times, later, down the line, we see that the very reason we went through those dark places
was so we could help someone else and relate to what they are going through.
The older I get, the more I can see the truth in this.

Telling our story to others, sharing our hearts and experiences,
opens up a channel of God's love and understanding to them.
It lets them know that they are not alone.
It makes them see that God's grace is sufficient...
because if we are still standing, it is a great testimony to the faithfulness and goodness of God.

As a wife who has enjoyed nearly 26 years of married life,
I can see the benefit of sharing with those who are younger...
those who are now walking the path I have already walked.

"The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, 
 not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
That they may teach the young women to be sober, 
to love their husbands, to love their children,
To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, 
obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed."
Titus 2:3-5

I got the sweetest letter today from a precious Kenyan reader who lives in Uganda, East Africa.
I cannot put into words how much I love hearing from readers!
Just knowing you are out there reading the heart-wrenched words that have poured from my soul
means so much to me and brightens my whole day.

In her letter, she said the sweetest things, 
and she mentioned that she is newly married and expecting her first baby. 
Then she said something that struck a chord deep inside of me.
She talked about how it works when the older women teach the younger.
As I read her words, it was like an epiphany to me.
I have read Titus 2:3-5 countless times through the years,
but only today did it truly hit me that I am now one of those older women.
I never put myself in that category before.
I always looked ahead to others who were older than me.
But, as I read this sweet letter today,
the thing that occurred to me is this....
it is my turn now.
This is what God wants me to do now....
in my own stumbling, faltering way.
It is hard to believe, but I am this season.
He has allowed me to get to where I am for a purpose.
All of these life experiences...everything that has happened....all I have been through...
to reach this age and season of life has been ordained and directed and orchestrated by Almighty God.
He wants me to share the things I have learned along the way.
He doesn't allow us to go through things and live just so we can accumulate 
an abundance of  wisdom to hoard and keep all to ourselves.
He wants us to call back to those who come after us.
To share the wisdom that comes only through life experience.
To pass that on to those who now need it most....
those who are now walking through seasons we have already experienced.

To encourage them to follow Him and His perfect will for their lives.
To be an example to them.
To teach them.
Perhaps this is God's biggest purpose for this blog.

When I was a teenager, I heard a quote that has stuck with me all my life.
"Learn from others' mistakes.  You don't live long enough to make them all yourself."

If someone else has gone through life and gleaned lessons from living it,
and if they are willing to pass those lessons on to us,
it is a blessing...and a gift.

This is how God designed it.

I leave you with one more poem taken from one of my favorite devotional books,
"Streams In the Desert".

Call Back

If you have gone a little way ahead of me, call back­;
'Twill cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track;
And if, perchance, Faith's light is dim, because the oil is low,
Your call will guide my lagging course as wearily I go.

Call back, and tell me that He went with you into the storm;
Call back, and say He kept you when the forest's roots were torn;
That when the heavens thundered and the earthquake shook the hill,
He bore you up and held you where the very air was still.

O friend, call back and tell me, for I cannot see your face;
They say it glows with triumph, and your feet bound in the race;
But there are mists between us, and my spirit eyes are dim,
And I cannot see the glory, though I long for word of Him.

But if you'll say He heard you when your prayer was but a cry,
And if you'll say He saw you through the night's sin-darkened sky,­
If you have gone a little way ahead, O friend, call back,­
'Twill cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track.

- Selected
(Quoted in Streams In The Desert devotional)

So, who could benefit from hearing your story?
Who needs to hear you "call back" to them today?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Updates to Prayer Requests...and A Few More

"Pray without ceasing."
I Thessalonians 5:17

I know many of you are still praying for little 2 1/2 year old Kai Slockers.
For those of you who haven't heard, Jesus called little Kai home to be with Him for eternity.
He now rests in the loving arms of the One Who created him and formed him in his mother's womb...
not so long ago.
Please continue to pray much for his mother, Aki, his father, Shawn,
and all other family members.
Only the God of all comfort can really comprehend the pain in their hearts,
and only He can send the healing they so desperately need.

Jimmy Neff continues to need a lot of prayer,
as he goes through radiation and chemo-therapy, 
along with all of the other challenges he is facing.
Doctors do not give much hope, but the words of the Great Physician are,
"All things are possible with God.  Believe."
Please keep Jimmy, my brother David, and sister-in-law, Dorothy,
and all other family and loved ones in your continued prayers.

Please also continue to pray for little unborn baby Obed Walters,
as his parents are believing God for a miracle of healing before he is born.
God's eye is upon him, and we know He has all power.
There is nothing too hard for our God.

To add a few more requests....
please pray for my dear friend, Robin, as she walks the lonely path of losing her mother.
She is now in Hospice care, and anyone who has ever gone through this knows how long
and anguished and agonizing this kind of waiting can be.
Pray for strength and peace to fill Robin's heart and life and for direction for her future.
She lost her husband only a few years ago, and her heart is very heavy.
God understands.

Pray for the hopeful couples who have empty arms and who deal with the daily struggles of infertility.
Having walked this road for so many years,
I have a soft spot in my heart for barren women and their husbands.
Pray that God will send them the babies they long for.

Some on-line infertility journey blogs I follow are the ones of...
Caroline at In Due Time,
Elisha at Waiting for Baby Bird,
Lisa at Amateur Nester
and Katie aA Hundred Affections.

I try to remember to pray for each one of them and their husbands every, single day.
Walking the path of infertility is a very long, lonely, frustrating road.
I know they would love it if you would stop by their blogs and leave a sweet comment
letting them know you have committed to consistently praying for them.

Pray for the persecuted church...for every Christian who serves God in secret,
who would give anything to be able to walk into one of the church services
about which you and I too often complain.

Pray for the free church...who are blessed enough to be able to worship God openly,
but who bicker and hate and tear one another down,
who dig in their heels and hold each other at arm's length...
because of the pettiest, most ridiculous things.

Pray for missionaries who give all they have to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Pray for military men and women who sacrifice every day to protect and preserve
the continuation of the freedom we so cherish and enjoy.

Pray for our president and leaders.
It is a Bible command.
"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions,
and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
For kings, and for all that are in authority; 
that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty."
I Timothy 2:1,2
They need our prayers more than our criticism...
whether we do or do not agree.

Pray for those who have lost cherished loved ones on the battlefield.

Pray for the bereaved...whose hearts now experience the throes of overwhelming grief.

Pray for the homeless who sleep under bridges,
huddled under cardboard boxes...
scared, starving, shivering, and forgotten.

Pray for the children who cower in fear,
who pull covers over their heads and pretend to sleep,
hoping with all their hearts they will avoid a nightly round of abuse.

Pray for the wives who panic at the sound of drunken footsteps.

Pray for the homesick who cry themselves to sleep.

Pray for the traveler who looks longingly in the rearview mirror
and wishes they were coming instead of going.

Pray for pastors who feel isolated and alone,
who struggle to find the courage to face one more Sunday of rejection.

Pray for the unemployed who have lost self-esteem,
who feel worthless, inferior, and desperate.

Pray for orphans and foster children...tossed to and fro....from pillar to post....
never really belonging anywhere....
who pray every night for a forever home.

Pray for the deeply depressed who have lost hope,
and now ponder the easiest, fastest, and least painful way out.

Pray for broken-hearted mamas and daddies...
who would give anything they own to turn back the clock to former days...
days when life was easier...and more love-filled....
who patiently wait and eagerly hope for just a word from the wayward child
they have loved and given everything they had to satisfy.

Pray for the wayward children who have lost their innocence,
who wish for the days before they lost it....

who cry and long for the ones they left behind...
who realize they have gone too far, but are too proud to come back home.

Pray for the addicted,
shackled in chains,
yearning for peace.

Pray for the elderly who sit day after never-ending day,
wishing, longing, begging God for the sight of one glimpse of a familiar face...
for the ring of the phone...
for the slightest sign that they are still loved....and in the tiniest way still necessary.

Pray for the public servants who selflessly give and go the extra mile...
for the protection of police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and all the rest.

Pray for the critically ill,
those who know death is near,
the afflicted,
the tormented,
the ones in continual pain.

Pray for the doctors who treat,
the nurses who care,
the surgeons who mend.

Pray for the lonely ones who would give their last dime to be loved.

Pray for the shut-ins who are no longer able to care for their own basic needs.

Pray for the caregivers who love and tirelessly care for them.

Pray for the ones who linger around hospital beds,
waiting, dreading, watching the rise and fall of barely-breathing loved ones.

Pray for those in Hospice rooms,
Intensive Care Units,
and nursing homes who will never go home again.

Pray for children who are bullied,
terrified to go to school,
each day dreading the worst.

Pray for America.

Oh, pray for America!
For a nationwide revival.
For a spiritual shaking and awakening like she's never seen.
For a mass returning to the God of our fathers.
For restoration of Biblical values.
For a trend towards loving Jesus Christ....
and each other.

Pray for the misunderstood,
the "different",
the ones who never seem to fit in.

Pray for a Paul-like, real spiritual awakening for the unbelievers,
the atheists,
the skeptics.

Pray for the Christians to repent...
to unite....
to humble themselves and pray and seek God's face and turn from their wicked ways...
to finally see that we are a very big part of the problem....
to realize that if we cannot get along with each other...
you know, those of us who are supposedly on the same side,
why should we expect the rest of the world to be at peace?

Pray for the ones professing Christianity to finally see that, in many ways,
as Ghandi said, we are very unlike our Christ.

Pray for the genuine love of Jesus to somehow come front and center...
through you and through me....
that the world around us would see something in us that they would even want.

Pray for single parents who struggle hard every day to hold things together on their own.

Pray for those who have lost their way and are on the wrong path....
that God will send someone into their life to lead them back.

There are many, many other things, situations, and people to pray for....
it would take a long list to name them all.
You get the picture.
I know we are all overloaded, burdened, and have our own issues.
But, we must push beyond ourselves.
We must be willing to bear the burdens of others.
Even the weakest of us can pray.
Even if it is only spoken from our hearts....
even if the words never reach our lips...
even if our prayer consists only of tears.....
God hears.
He understands every language...even the one of tears.

So pray, my dear friend, pray.

In closing, I want to leave you with something someone emailed to me yesterday.
The author is unknown...wish I knew who to credit.
This is SO good!

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Eleven Ways To Bless Your Husband

"Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it..."
Song of Solomon 8:7

I jolted awake from the soundest sleep in a huge panic.
I grabbed the phone on the table next to the recliner where I had been sleeping,
pushed one of the buttons so the light would come on, and I could see what time it was.
7:23 AM!!!!!

It hit me that I hadn't heard from Kevin in several hours,
and he still wasn't home from work.
I began to pray....or should I say PLEAD with God to put it on his heart to call me.

Immediately, I heard His still, small, gentle, reassuring voice....
"He's okay, child.
Everything is all right."

Peace washed over me.

But, you know me....I still kept praying for Kevin to call.:)

Pretty soon, I heard the sound of a car door closing in the driveway.
I walked to the door to look out.

"Would you rather get a phone call from him,
or would you rather see that?"
the Lord softly asked.

I looked up to see my dear, steady, consistent, faithful, hard-working husband,
walking across the yard toward the front door.
I could tell by his slowed pace that he was exhausted.

Bless his dear heart!
I opened the door and opened my arms to welcome him home.
It felt so good to feel him close to me again.
I stayed there...face pressed against the cold leather of his jacket.

"It is so good to have you home", I whispered.

I hate being apart from him.
I honestly don't know how military wives hold up to the long separations.
Just a day's work is hard for me to handle.

If God spares time and our lives until June, Lord willing, we will celebrate our 26th anniversary.
I love him more today than I did that June day...
my, it seems like a long time ago.
I don't know how we got from there to quickly.
But, here we are.
Silver anniversary behind us....silver hair to prove it!

Living with the same man for this long has taught me much about married life.
I know why God said it is not good for man to be alone.
I have tasted the sweet joys of feeling a union of souls.
The longer we are married, the more one we become.
That is God's design.

He uses the marriage relationship as a symbol of Christ's relationship with the church.
It is a sacred bond that grows closer...and deeper....and more precious with time.

Marriage, along with our relationship with God, and any other bond that matters to us,
needs to be nurtured.
It needs care and attention and a continual pouring of ourselves into it.
In order to remain strong, it cannot be neglected or pushed to the back burner
or left to chance and the mindset that we are just hoping for the best.

Through our nearly 26 years of married life,
I have learned that I can either be a hindrance or a blessing to the man I love more than words.
I feel like I fall so far short of being the wife I long to be to him....
I feel so inadequate and incapable,
but to bless him is...and has always of the greatest desires of my heart.

As wives, we should seek out ways to daily bless our husbands....
to make their lives less stress-filled...
to make our homes more peaceful and a place they always long to come home to and be.

As I wrote this post, several things I have learned through my own life experience,
came to my mind.....
tried and true and personally-proven ways that I have learned to live out in order to bless Kevin.
I have narrowed them down to 11.
I seems strange to make it 11.
Why not 10?
Or 15?
Maybe it is because 11 is one of our favorite numbers.
We were married on June 11th!
Anyhow, here are my top favorite ways of blessing my husband!

#1.  Love God.
What does this have to do with blessing my husband, you ask?
To me, it has everything to do with it.
Loving God with all my heart means that I will do what it takes to keep my relationship with Him current.
I will pay the cost to pray and read His Word and make sure I stay spiritually fortified.
If my relationship with Him is where it needs to be,
my other relationships automatically fall in line...directly behind the one I share with Him.
If my walk with Him is not my first priority,
if it suffers,
if it is out of date and stale,
subsequently every other affiliation in my life will suffer and be out of skelter.
I cannot be what I need to be to my husband,
I cannot stay in a Biblical state of mind,
if I am not keeping near to the cross.
I cannot bring myself into subjection to my husband,
if I am not first dying out to self and keeping my will surrendered to my God.
Making sure I love God with all my heart is the best gift I could ever bestow upon my husband.
After spending time with Jesus, I am better equipped to face the day with renewed courage
and a positive, Godly frame of mind and outlook.
It endues me with the power I need to optimally serve and bless Kevin
and nourish our marriage, which is my second-most important relationship of all.

#2.  Love him.
I know that sounds basic and elementary.
But, in the busyness of life and the continual demands of keeping a home and raising a child,
it is easy to lose sight of who we are trying most to please.
It is easy to just rush through the day doing what we do,
cooking, homeschooling, cleaning, ironing, paying bills, doing laundry,
and all of the other regular things we do,
and completely leave out the loving affection that he so desperately needs.
Loving him means that I put his physical and emotional needs above and before my own...
and everyone else's, too.
It means that I take the necessary time to meet those needs....
regardless of what else does or does not get done.
It means that I do everything I do for him wholeheartedly, unreservedly, and ungrudgingly.
It means never making him feel that he is bothering me or interrupting me
or that anything else I do is more important than he is to me.
It means kissing him on his way out the door and on his way back in.
It means being available to him....
touching him gently when I pass him in the hall,
telling him he looks nice,
complimenting his efforts,
baking him his favorite treat,
cooking his favorite foods,
thanking him for all he does for Zach and me.
Loving him with all my heart and proving it in a thousand little ways,
must be done regularly...consistently...genuinely and faithfully.

#3.  Love his child(ren).
Again, you say, isn't this a given?
Well, it should be.
But, sometimes it isn't a reality.
A man needs to know that his children are being well cared for and loved.
They are his personal treasures....held close and dear to his heart.
He needs to have that assurance and should never have to worry
about whether or not they are receiving the loving care they need and deserve.
He needs a woman who nourishes and tenderly provides the gentle guidance and comfort a child craves.
His home should be a haven for him from the cold world outside.
He should be able to resort there and find a place of peace, not discord,
between his wife and his child(ren).
Constant complaining, arguing, and upheaval are not
conducive to making home a place our husbands want to be.

#4.  Pray for him.
Is there any way of measuring the value of this?
I could never count all of the times I pray for my husband.
I carry a burden for him and Zach like no one else.
I should.
It is my duty as a wife and mother...
and as the keeper of the home Kevin works so hard to provide and maintain for us.
I provide no financial contribution to the operation of our household.
The things I contribute are not monetary.
Praying for my family is one of the most precious trusts ever committed to my keeping.
I take it very seriously, and I practice it diligently.
It is both my duty...and one of my most beloved privileges.

#5.  Speak well of him.
Don't put him down.
Never speak of his faults to others.
Praise his every effort...even when the results aren't perfect.
He doesn't need to hear someone else, (especially the one who professes to love him most),
pointing out and magnifying his flaws.
Tell him how handsome he is.
Remind him how smart he is.
When his name comes up in conversation....
with your mother, sisters, other family members, friends, fellow-church-goers, etc.,
speak only good things about him....
no matter what.
Accentuate the positive.
Focus on the reasons you fell in love with him in the first place.

#6.  Respect him.
There are lines and boundaries of respect that should never be crossed.
No name-calling, even when teasing.
No hitting, even when playing around.
No raised voices, even when trying to make a point.
Make sure his favorite chair at the table and living room chair is available when he needs it.
Give him his space.
Don't nag.
Let him breathe...and his own home.
Kevin and I decided early in our relationship that we would never lose that initial respect for each other.
That we wouldn't cross those lines into disrespect.
That we would strive to hold each other up, never tear each other down.

#7.  Keep his secrets.
There are just certain things you should not discuss about him.
There are just certain topics that are off-limits and should have a "Road Closed" sign attached to them.
You are the one he trusts most.
You see him at his most defenseless....his most vulnerable.
Around you, and you alone, he most completely lets down his guard.
You get to see that inner "sacred" part of him that no one else ever sees.
He trusts you with that.
He should never have to put up a defense around you.
He should never feel the need to.
With you, he should be able to be himself...completely....
and know that you would rather die than to reveal the depths of his heart.
With you, he doesn't feel he has anything to prove,
nor should he.
Guard the treasures he shares with only you...keep them like a sacred trust
and never, ever embarrass him by divulging any part of his privacy to anyone else.
It is rare...and special...and intimately yours and his.
Always keep it that way.

#8.  Lighten his load.
Do anything and everything you can to make his burdens lighter.
Little things mean a lot.
Place a glass of water on his bedside table at bedtime, so he doesn't have to.
Scratch his back while you stand next to him, without him having to ask.
If you are physically able, take a turn at doing one of his household chores.
Offer to make a dreaded phone call for him.
Don't take advantage of him.
Don't take him and all he does for you for granted.
There are a lot of women out there who would gladly take your place.
Don't ever give him a reason to even entertain the possibility.

#9.  Listen to him.
Keep an "open ear, open heart" policy at all times.
Never close yourself off from him or make him feel hesitant to come to you.
Let him pour out his heart, without interrupting him.
Learn the fine art of quietness.
He needs you to be there for him.
He should feel more comfortable talking to you than to anyone else.
Be accessible.
Be ready.
Make him priority, and let him know it.
Look into his eyes while he is talking.
Don't divert your gaze.
Let him know you are interested in what he is saying.
Don't patronize him.
Men hate that and are quick to pick up on it.
Mean it from the heart.
Be genuine.
Listening distractedly or begrudgingly or half-heartedly or insincerely
is worse than not listening at all.
It is like a slap in the face to him and gives the impression that you
would rather be doing anything other than having to endure a conversation with him.
Watch for warning signs that something is bothering him.
Be in tune with his feelings.
Listen to them, as well as to his words.
Hear the words he doesn't say.

#10.  Show interest in what is important to him.
Believe in him and what matters to him.
Share his dreams.
Through the years, I have always sought out the things that Kevin likes to do.
It may not be my favorite thing in the world, but if he likes it, I want to be a part of it.
Mostly so I can be near him, and to show him that I value his opinions and preferences.
If they are important to him, they automatically mean something to me.
For instance, when we lived in Florida, Kevin enjoyed playing golf.
Sometimes he played with other guys,
and then there were times that he wanted to go with me.
I loved that he wanted to be with me.
Was I ever a good golfer?
(Insert side-splitting, doubled-over, belly-laugh...right here...:)
Just the thought of that makes me laugh!
Athletics, in any form, have never been my strong suit!
No matter how many times we went to play, and there were many,
I never seemed to all....okay well, except in putting.
The improvement there can probably be contributed to the putt-putt we still love to play.
Kevin tried.  Others tried.  I learned how to hold the clubs,
where to place my fingers, how to stand, etc.
Nothing helped.  It was hopeless.  It didn't matter.
But, regardless of whether I ever became good at the sport or not,
I absolutely loved getting out on the golf course...because I was with Kevin.
Riding around in the cart with him, us laughing good-naturedly together at my pathetic attempts,
our talks while out there, being outdoors, watching him....
all of it was wonderful.
There was one particular par-three course that I especially loved.
It wasn't nearly as challenging, so my scores there were slightly improved...
but still pretty awful.  :)
It didn't matter....we were together....and that is what made and still makes us both happy.
There are many other things I could mention, but the point is that I try to support Kevin's efforts...
his interests...the things that make him happy.
I think it is important.
I love this man so is worth the required effort...
just to see him smile.

I love blessing him in every way I can.
Blessing him, blesses me.

#11.  Let him be the man.
It's his God-given place in the home.
Sorry to burst any bubbles....I know this is a touchy subject
and is no longer a popular teaching or viewpoint,
but it's Divinely-inspired Biblical instruction, my friend.
I didn't write it.
"For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: 
and He is the savior of the body."
Ephesians 5:23
"But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; 
and the head of the woman is the man; 
and the head of Christ is God."
I Corinthians 11:3
This is the Biblical chain of command.
This is the corporate structure.
When it is followed, it works out perfectly.
It makes for joy-filled lives, happy marriages, and peaceful homes.
I found out early in our marriage that it is very liberating to just let go and let Kevin lead.
It enables him to fulfill his God-given role,
it frees him up to be the man God is calling him to be,
and it eases every drop of tension in our home.
The Bible-way works.
If everyone stays in their God-ordained place,
the family unit runs like a well-oiled machine.
There is no friction.
No power struggles.
Just release your need to control everything,
and let your husband shine.
Don't try to overrule or override him or his decisions.
Be there to gently support him and to add your "wisdom" and input,
but, allow him to lead.
I am not talking about abuse situations here
or becoming a door mat or whipping post....
please don't misunderstand me.
There is plenty in the Bible about how a man is to treat a woman in order to gain her respect,
submission, (Ouch!  I know that's not a popular word...but in the Biblical sense, it is beautiful), and love.
"Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them."  Colossians 3:19
"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it..."  Ephesians 5:25
"Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, 
giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, 
and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered."
I Peter 3:7

Marriage is a wonderfully-splendid thing.
Especially when both parties are following Christ with all their hearts.

I realize this is not always the case.
Even if your spouse has chosen to take a different path and approach to marriage,
God still has grace for you to fulfill His will on your part.
If you have a difficult husband,
read about a woman HERE who overcame in spite of her crude, brutish, abusive husband.

If he is especially hard to deal with, would you be willing to try these suggestions anyhow?
Who knows?
Maybe the extra attention, the special doting-kind-of-love and affection,
the kindness-in-spite-of-how-mean-he-is treatment,
and most of all, the humility...might just cause him to turn around.
Maybe he will change.
Maybe you can win him over.
If not, you will feel better about things.
And you will please God while trying.

How about giving it a try?

So, what is important to your husband?
What makes him smile?
Even the meanest-spirited of men have soft spots.
What creative ways have you found to bless him in the past?
What touches him when nothing else will?

How have you blessed your husband today?
(P.S. This line of writing may turn into a series....
there are many other ideas floating around in my head!
But, to keep this post from being any wordier than it is, I'll stop here for now...
and we'll see how the Lord leads.  :~)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Prayers Needed

"We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves."
Romans 15:1

I love this picture.
I saw it hanging on a hospital corridor wall, near the elevator,
and I just had to have a picture...of the picture.
It depicts Jesus, as a carpenter, holding a tool and a block of wood.
It gives the impression that He is getting ready to build something.
But, to me, it represents so much more.
To me, it is a beautiful depiction of Jesus' power to fix anything.
No matter how severely broken or bruised or damaged.
He can mend any manner or degree of brokenness.
He can heal any manner or stage of disease.
He can solve any kind or severity of problem.

He is not only the Master Builder, the Creator of man and universe,
but He is the Divine Healer,
the God Who has no limits....
the Savior Who saves to the uttermost....
the Lord Who can do anything.

When doctors say it is inoperable, He heals without so much as an incision,
by the mere touch of His hand.
When oncologists sign discharge orders and say there is nothing more they can do,
He has just begun to work.
When fertility specialists say "let go of your dream...",
God says, "they're wrong" and proves it by opening the barrenest of wombs.
When divorce papers have been signed and the last cutting words have been said,
God melts the stoniest of hearts and sends reconciliation.
When foreclosure papers have been served and all hope is gone,
He sends the miracle in answer to prayer.

There is nothing God cannot do.
Contrary to what you may have heard,
Jesus Christ is still the same today...
as He ever was.
He has not changed.
He has not lost power.
His strength is not diminished,
nor is His arm shortened.
Nor is His heart hardened to our needs.
He cares about us.
More deeply than we can imagine.
His great heart is moved with compassion as He sees the things we go through.
He doesn't miss a tear that falls from our eyes.

He cares about all of His creation.

The sheep grazing in countless meadows....

the cattle on a thousands hillsides.

His eyes remain upon even the tiniest of birds.

He sees every time an egg falls from its nest....

or one of them is wounded.

If He loves them that much, think how much more He loves you...and me!

Jesus said in Matthew 10:31 (NIV),
"So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

He died on the cross to prove it.

So, since He can do anything, and since He loves us enough to give His life for us,
shouldn't we take everything to Him in prayer?
Shouldn't we look above and beyond the declarations of the limited
to the One Who is without limitations?
Shouldn't we bring what is broken to Him....
just like a child brings his/her broken toys to Daddy?

My heart breaks as I think of the many who need prayer at this time, 
just in my little circle of family, friends, and acquaintances.
While there are many prayer requests that come across our path...
there are three, in particular, especially serious in nature,
that I would like to share with you.... 
with a plea that you will please pray and pass along these requests to other prayer warriors you know.

My brother, David's step-son, Jimmy Neff, has been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer,
brain cancer, lymphatic cancer, and possibly cancer of the kidney.
He is no longer able to live alone and is being cared for 
by my brother and sister-in-law, Dorothy in their home.
Please pray for a miracle for Jim and for healing and peace for David, Dorothy,
Jim's three siblings, and other loved ones during this difficult time.

Little 2.5 year old Kai Slockers is very ill and has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
He has undergone brain surgery, and his prognosis is not good.
Last night, he had to have another emergency surgery, and his parents received more bad news today.
Please pray for the miracle Kai needs and also for peace and healing for his dad, Shawn,
his mother, Aki, his aunt Caroline, and all other family members who are touched by this sadness.
If you would like to keep up with his progress, please click here to be re-directed to his CaringBridge site.
Shawn and Aki post regular updates.

Little, as yet-unborn Baby Obed Walters needs much prayer.
I am going to copy the exact words from his dad, Travis, 
to explain his physical condition.
"...the baby has what they're calling “Transposition of the Great Vessels” 
which simply means his Aorta and Pulmonary Artery are switched.   
Everything else looks good, measurements, etc.  
While the baby is in utero, he’s fine as he’s not breathing through his lungs 
and there’s a hole between the left and right ventricles 
that is allowing the blood to mix, thus sending oxygen to his body.  
However once he’s born, 
he’ll most likely have to have immediate heart surgery to survive."

So many hearts are hurting.
Only the hands of our loving Savior can truly make them whole.
He is the Great Physician.
He suffered so that we could be healed.

I have felt His healing hand upon my body....and my broken heart....
so many times through the years.
Without His healing, I would not be here...a living, breathing testimony to His Diving healing power.

He is so good, and He absolutely answers prayer.

In these dark days, God is our only hope.
He is the answer to every problem.
I know everyone has a very long prayer list already,
but if you could take just a few seconds to add the above names to your list,
it would be so appreciated.

"Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ."
Galatians 6:2

God bless each one who is faithful to pray...
thus fulfilling Jesus' law.