Archive | January 2017

Partnership in Marriage: Making It a “Win” for Both Spouses

In a discussion this week that John and I were having about a FACEBOOK comment, I shared with him a response that I wanted to make. He thought that my comment was insightful but that it would not be appropriate or wise to post it.

At first I disagreed with him, but after more thoughtful discussion and prayer, I decided not to post it. Did John require me to do this? No. Would it have been okay for me to disregard his opinion? Yes. He said, “If you think that’s what God is telling you to do, go ahead and post it”.

The fact that I listen to God is more important to my husband than the fact that I listen to him. And my submission to him is based on the confidence I have that he, also, listens to God—and is committed to doing his will—which includes loving me.

Instead of arguing—or hiding, when we differ, we have learned that a separate time with God—in which he adjusts or refines both of our thinking—helps us come to a mutually satisfying agreement. Both of us are winners, and God is, too.


When John and I were first married, I misunderstood the Biblical concept of submission. Thinking that the statement “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22 NKJV) meant unthinking compliance, I gave up my thinking–stopped expressing my desires and opinions.  Sometimes in doing that, I felt like a loser.

This does not reflect the kind of submission that Jesus calls us to. He does not approve of unthinking compliance. A relationship with him includes truthful expression of our desires and thoughts—even questioning, when we lack understanding.

Why does he require us to be truthful about our thoughts and feelings? Not of his sake—he is aware of these things—but for our sake. We cannot truly embrace God’s will and calling for our lives unless if we are unaware of our own hearts.

Neither could I truly support my husband’s calling when I was not truthful about my own desires and opinions. Withholding my viewpoint meant he was a loser, as well as me.

Truthfulness and transparency, combined with mutual honor and respect, mean both of us are winners.


I am a “feeler” and my husband is a “thinker.” I am good at detecting feelings—even feelings of other people, although not always accurate in my perception of that! When we were first married, I took on a load of responsibility not intended for me. I frequently examined my husband’s face and informed him of his emotional state.

He, on the other hand, is good at thinking through and making decisions. So I turned over my decision making to him. Unfortunately, his assumptions of what I thought and wanted were not always on target. This arrangement led to misunderstandings and frustration for both of us. Gradually, he learned to take responsibility for identifying and sharing his feelings, and I became direct in telling him what I was thinking.

 Related to that, I am sharing the following poem which is included in  my bookHeart Connections:Finding Joy through Transparency with God.


He did all my thinking
I picked up his feeling.
He made my decisions
I carried his pain.

In Christ, we found healing
In Christ, we found hope.
Light is his burden
And easy, his yoke

He took back his feelings.
I reclaimed by thoughts.
Building those boundaries
Helped us a lot.

Now work is much lighter
For burdens are shared.
And loads are accepted;
We do what is fair

Our bond has grown stronger.
Our joy has increased.
And I think that, in heaven,
Our Father is pleased.

This entry was posted on January 26, 2017. 8 Comments

Appreciating My Body


Every day, especially in the winter time, I enjoy my morning shower. I turn the hot water tap on as far as I can, without burning myself, and feel my muscles relax. As my whole body warms up, I quietly listen for any words that the Holy Spirit might want to say to me.

This morning the following phrase popped into my mind—“you have given me a body”. I knew immediately where the phrase came from and what it meant for me. Those were the words that Jesus spoke when talking about the body that Abba Father gave to him. (Hebrews 10:5 NLT) He recognized that his flesh and blood body was a gift.

I’m blown away by the following statement—“because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood” (Hebrews 2:14 NLT).

Does Jesus understand and care about our physical needs? Yes! Yes! And Yes! He experienced thirst, hunger, fatigue, and pain in a body that was just like ours.


The questions for each one of us to ask ourselves are: How much do I value my flesh and blood body?  How am I treating it?  Is there any need that I’m ignoring?

I had to confess this morning that, lately, I’d not been appreciating my body very much. I’d been complaining about the time that it takes to exercise and the time that it takes to prepare the nourishing food that it needs. I’d been grumbling about the wrinkles in my face and the gray in my hair. Instead of treating it as a gift that I valued, I been treating it as necessary inconvenience.

What a contrast between my attitude and that and the words of the Psalmist, David, who declared to God—

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it” (Psalm 139:13-14 NLT).

 I’m thankful for the Holy Spirit’s gentle correction, this morning. He also brought to my mind the words of a poem that I wrote a few years ago. In a humorous way, it expresses the truth of the above psalm.



Voice00261

TODAY, I’M TURNING FIFTY

Today, I’m turning fifty
And my hair– it has some gray;
My body’s looking older
But I love it anyway.

It’s been with me half a century;
It’s been through a lot of things—
Some winters of depression,
A few outbursts every spring.

My body is still with me;
It has never gone on strike.
Though it does feel unhappy—
When I do not treat it right.

It’s a gift from my Creator,
Who designed my inward parts.
“God, I thank you for my body;
I thank you from my heart.”

Now, this body has some stitches;
And this body has some pain.
This body has some wrinkles;
This body’s not the same

As it was when I was twenty,
As it was when I was ten,
As it was when I was two.
You should have seen it back then.

It was soft and it was smooth;
It was fast; oh, it could run.
It was full of laughs and giggles,
Though it was a tiny one.

It could climb a giant staircase;
It could jump and throw a ball;
And that was really special
For a body still quite small.



Yes, God was my Creator,
But the world that I lived in
Even as a toddler
Brought some suffering due to sin.

The years ahead were frightful.
I had mumps and chicken pox,
And the doctor took my tonsils;
He was sly just like a fox.

I survived those childhood traumas
And arrived at puberty;
Oh, my body was terrific,
But it sure did not please me.

Yes, my body was terrific;
God designed my inward parts.
But at ten I did not like it;
And I said so in my heart.

It seemed a bit too early,
When my hormones went askew;
I wanted to grow taller,
But my body had no clue.

It went the wrong direction;
It grew out, instead of up.
I tried to steer that vessel,
But I wasn’t fast enough.

My feet kept getting longer
On the ground, I often fell.
I was not in gear for changing
When my glands began to swell.

I felt awkward; I felt clumsy,
Should I laugh or should I cry?
My dear body was confused—
I remember with a sigh.



The teen-age years were something
I was glad to leave behind.
My body was in turmoil;
It could not make up its mind.

But I did arrive at twenty,
And my body made it too.
In the years that were to follow
It had quite a bit to do.

It went with me to college
And carried all my books.
It climbed the hills and stairways;
Then, helped me learn to cook.

It grew strong and it grew healthy
‘Cause I learned to feed it right.
And I found it worked much better
If I let it sleep at night.

It was present at my wedding;
It took me down the aisle
And received the man I married;
Responding with a smile.

In due time I was pregnant
And my stomach did a flop.
It said, “I want to leave you.”
I said, “You better not!”

For this child is important;
This baby needs some food.
Well, my body stayed right with me
And did the things it should.

Then, it cuddled my two daughters
In a creaky rocking chair;
My back still has the imprint
To prove that it was there.



I think I passed up mid-life
But my body isn’t sure.
Sometimes I do things backwards—
I go in the exit door.

I returned again to college
When I was forty-eight;
I could have been a grandma
But I married rather late.

That second time around
I had more fun attending class.
I took my right brain with me
To draft poems: they were a “Smash!”

My body has good memories;
And my body has some aches.
I could share with you more details—
But my friend, it’s getting late.

My body has been faithful;
Yes, my body has been there.
God is its designer
But it needs my tender care.

Too often, I deprive it
Or I call it horrible names.
I get mad ‘cause it’s not perfect.
That is wrong; I must refrain.

My Creator had a body;
In a manger he was born.
He does not despise this vessel
Just the sin by which it’s torn.

Yes, today, I’m turning fifty
And my hair–it has some gray.
My body’s looking older
But I love it anyway.

This entry was posted on January 19, 2017. 14 Comments

A Challenge to Grow in Prayer

Three mornings this week, I woke up with the song “Sweet Hour of Prayer” running through my mind.

A treasured memory that I have is that of my grandmother playing and singing the words of that old hymn–she could, also, beautifully whistle the tune.

 

I did not inherit that ability, but I can sing much of the song from memory. I’m sure Grandma would be happy  if she could hear me singing it.  ( Voice00251 )


Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known.

In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
The joys I feel, the bliss I share,
Of those whose anxious spirits burn
With strong desires for thy return!

With such I hasten to the place
Where God my Savior shows His face,
And gladly take my station there,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
Thy wings shall my petition bear
To Him whose truth and faithfulness
Engage the waiting soul to bless.

And since He bids me seek His face,
Believe His Word and trust His grace,
I’ll cast on Him my every care,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer! 


Although at the end of my prayer time I’m, often, singing.  I don’t always find prayer to be sweet. I don’t always receive the answers that I want and expect. Sometimes prayer is difficult and hard work. Words that Scripture uses to describe prayer include wrestling, travailing, and weeping. For Jesus, it meant sweating blood.

What motivates me to pursue prayer when it’s painful and difficult? There are many rewards and incentives; for me, the most desired one is a new level of intimacy in my friendship with God!

If that is your desire, I want to encourage you to make “growing in prayer” a priority for 2017.

I believe that the Holy Spirit, my inner GPS, desires the same thing. That’s why  he’s calling me to higher level of intimacy with God. He desires that for all of us.  God does not show favoritism. He’s calling all of us to further develop our prayer life.

I’m making a commitment to do so. It’s not that I omit prayer but that I need more balance.

For years, I’ve been studying Scripture and prayer-journaling; it’s been a major factor in my  emotional healing and spiritual growth  Yet, there are other aspects of prayer I sometimes omit or am weak in.

To help me gain a balance in my prayer life, I’m doing two things: 1) Signing-up to take a Sunday school class that my friend and pastor’s wife, Crystal Holt, is teaching.

This new Bibles and Bagels class is based off Dick Eastman’s book: “The Hour that Changes the World.” Eastman has created a systematic process of effectively and purposely praying for one hour. In class we will study this prayer plan and apply it together. To sign up or learn more contact Crystal Holt holt.crystalr@gmail.com. Class starts Sunday, January 29 at 9:00 AM.

I’m excited about this opportunity and hope that those of you who go to New Hope Community Church will seriously consider joining this group study. If you are not in this area, I think you will be inspired by Crystal’s words; perhaps you will want to purchase the book and start your own prayer group. This is her introduction to the class:

 

2. On some days, I ‘m going to be joining my friend, Angela Thornton’s “90 Days of Intercession for the Church and Nation”. This challenge began on January 1, 2017, but it’s not too late to participate. Daily prayer is from 6:00-6:15 EST. The number to dial is 218.895.8546; Code: 2937679#.

 

You may find information about this challenge, as well as other resources on prayer and inspiring blog posts, on Angela’s Wise Word Ministries Facebook page. I hope that you will check out this great opportunity to join others in prayer.

 

https://www.facebook.com/wiseword.wednesday/

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on January 12, 2017. 10 Comments

A GPS for 2017

In my busyness the last few months, I’ve not taken time to put papers, receipts, books, cards, and other miscellaneous items in their designated places. This morning, I set out to change that. As I was sorting through the items piled next to my computer, I soon realized that it would take me more than one day (likely, many days) to put my office in order; this realization made me feel depressed.

Wondering why, I prayed for insight and soon became aware of this subconscious belief:  Before I die, I must correct all of my past errors and see to it that my house is in perfect order. In other words: to please God, along with needing  to make up for yesterday’s mistakes and failures and not repeat any of them, I must also attain and maintain a picture-perfect house.

The impossibility of doing so finally became clear to me, and the inclusiveness of God’s forgiveness—which I’ve embraced for years—became more solidly rooted in my heart.  

God knows that perfection, in any form, is beyond our capability.

He knows about our failures of yesterday; he knows about the ways in which we will fall short today, and he knows what our errors of tomorrow will look like. His forgiveness includes yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

That is called “Grace.”What are the implications of this grace? We can stop feeling anxious about our performance in life. We can take a break and relax. Even though, we have a tendency to wander during the day, we don’t have to get stressed about it.

God’s forgiveness includes a provision for our wandering–the  in gift of the Holy Spirit.

This is the promised “Helper” that he told his disciples he would send to all of us who rely on and accept his sacrificial death as payment for our failures and shortcomings.

I compare the Holy Spirit to an internal GPS. In order to determine my destination and map out my action steps for the day, I prayerfully read a portion of Scripture; then, I ask the Holy Spirit to direct me in my choices. I know that sometimes I will make a wrong or unwise choice.


“All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
    We have left God’s paths to follow our own.” Isaiah 53:6 NLT 


A PRAYER FOR TODAY

Father-God, show me how to live in the now—
To slow my racing mind;
To hear your quiet voice;
To wait before I move into the traffic of today,
Where impatient vendors
Honk for my attention.

Holy Spirit, be my GPS—
Guide me to my destination;
Show me the safest route;
Quickly tell me, when I override your direction;
Recalculate my route, when I impulsively
Turn onto a dead-end street.

Jesus, you are not a mechanical device.
You are entirely God and entirely human.
You offer me not simply direction but relationship—
Understanding, compassion, wisdom
Friendship that will last forever
Why would I turn down such an offer?


When I wander from God’s pathway, I try not to beat myself up about it; my always accurate GPS will correct me when my ears  or my eyes  or my heart distract me.  I’m learning to focus more on listening to his words than on reaching my desired goals for the day; then, even if I haven’t completed everything I set out to do, I can sleep peacefully.    



INSPIRED NOT DRIVEN 

Inspired—not driven—
That’s how I like “livin’”;
My cup overflows; I’m not drained.

When I linger in bed
‘Til the thoughts in my head
Are aligned with the Spirit’s voice,

I feel peace; I have strength;
I’m not hindered by angst.
I can handle the load called “Today.”

 

 

This entry was posted on January 6, 2017. 11 Comments