Letter to Micah

In the spirit of Mother’s Day, here is my letter to my sweet, sweet boy who made me a mother just over a year ago.

Micah Dean,
You, my son, changed my life. I wasn’t sure if I wanted kids or if I would know how to be a mother but the first time I held you in my arms all of that changed. Your breath melted my fears and your heartbeat changed my life. In an instant I knew love differently and more deeply than ever before.  I never knew love could be so full of joy and peace and compassion until that moment when daddy placed you into my arms. I know God’s love and grace deeply because of you; He gave me you and I did nothing to deserve such love and blessing in my life.
Micah, my boy, I have been praying for you and for the man God has created you to be since the first I saw “pregnant” on the home pregnancy test. I knew that I would not be enough. No matter how good of a mother I turn out to be, you will only achieve your potential through Him. I pray that you grow into a relationship with your Creator, that you grow to know and love him deeply. He has so much planned for you and will lead you there if you let him. I pray that you become a man of courage who exudes tenderness to the world. A man of boldness who expresses grace and mercy in all of your relationships. I pray that you know your worth and value through the extravagant relationship you cultivate with Christ. May you learn from others’ mistakes so that your pain and sufferings are minimal. Know that growth comes from seasons of pain; the act of pruning is painful but He is continually shaping you into the man you have been created to be.
My sweet, loving, joyful boy… I want you to know that there is nothing you can ever do that will make me stop loving you. You have my heart, no matter what. I may, at times, be disappointed by your choices or hurt by your actions, but my love well never end. May you know that my love is imperfect because I am not perfect but my love, by the grace of God, is a reflection of His prefect love for you. He has granted me the privilege of expressing His love to you so that you may know Him more fully.
Micah, my love will never end; however, God has also given me the privilege of allowing you to see His love even more fully through your relationship with your wife. I pray that you love her deeply. That you honor her and respect her in all you do and say. Know that it is your responsibility to serve your wife; to be a reflection of Christ to her. Son, gentleness, compassion, understanding, courage and honesty are the aspects of love that are going to empower her, to allow her to continue to grow and will point her to the love of the Father. It is a huge responsibility, my dear son, but I already know you can do it. You will fail and it is going to hurt, but you have the ability to humbly repent and know that you will be forgiven. Son, I pray that you choose wisely when picking a spouse. Follow after His heart and He will lead you to a woman who is perfectly suited for you. Remember in your dating and hormone fueled years that God is preparing you a wife, a woman, not a girl.
Micah Dean, I love you so much. You have changed my life and brought me so much joy in just one year… I am so excited to continue to know and love you. Thank you for loving me and for allowing me to be your mother. As the song I sing to you every night reminds me, “the love of God is evident in the miracle of you, little one.”
-Mom

Lullaby- JJ Heller

Go to sleep little one
May it be peaceful
May you dream of lovely things
And awake to find them real
Little one

Close your eyes little one
This is your lullaby
The love of God is evident in the miracle of you
Little one…

I Lied

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and when you leave it, you think, “I MUST remember all of what was said because that was HUGE and some day it will be VERY important!”?  I remember every detail of conversations like that and as I continue to move through adulthood, with my own life, my own family, my own etc., those conversations often flood the forefront of my mind because now is when they are important to me.

A couple of weeks ago, I sat at the dinner table with my family of four and faintly mentioned something about body image.  The beautiful, inquisitive 13 year old who sits across the table from me every evening asked a question and I lied.  I lied because of the VERY important conversation that had been tucked away in my heart for so many years.

One of my mentors told me once that she makes certain to positively comment on her body when he daughter is around.  She explained that she did not want to pass down a legacy of negative body image, but rather of health and positivity.  She said that even if she isn’t feeling great about herself, she will purposefully force herself to compliment herself, out loud, in earshot of her sweet, precious daughter.  She told me of one time that she was getting ready and happened to be in her under garments when her daughter walked in the room.  She had no less than twenty seconds ago, picked apart her body while looking in the mirror, but now, with her daughter in the room, walked to the mirror and out loud praised God for perfectly piecing her body together.

This conversation, I remember, made me fight tears the whole way through it.  I remember thinking, “I want to do the same for my daughter some day!  I want to do the same for the girls who are in my life intimately!”  The legacy that has been passed down to me is a legacy of weight loss and dieting and therefore an inherent displeasure with my body and weight.  Without meaning to, the women in my family spend a lot of time focusing on weight and we have passed that down from generation to generation.  I see it in my grandmother, my mother/aunts and now in the generation of women of which I am a part.  This is NOT the legacy I want to pass down to the next generation.

So, when the 13 year old asked her question, I lied.

I said something like, “I like my body.  I am not worried about what other people think.  I try to be healthy and try to make sure that my husband is pleased with my body, but I don’t let either of those things define me.  God gave me everything I’ve got; He made me knowing that this would be me and I’m happy with that.”

After I said it, there was a weird feeling that rushed over me.  I wanted all of the things that I had just said to be true, but in my heart, I knew they weren’t.  I struggle with body image just as much, if not more than most women.  I am not pleased with every inch of my body (mainly because I feel there are too many inches around and too few inches lenghtwise, lol) and if I had all of the money in the world, I probably would waste a large chunk of it altering things about my body.  I want to be taller, thinner, prettier, …ier.

None of what I said to the impressionable girl across the table was fully true, however, I knew it was my opportunity to change the cycle of such a negative legacy.

(I have recently had the incomparable honor and opportunity of “junior editing” Shannon Ethridge‘s new book and I HIGHLY suggest that when it comes out, every person reads it because there is a section on body image that has the most amazing story of changing negative body image legacies.  I wish I could share it with you right now, but it is my joy and honor to point you towards Shannon’s book for now.)

I guess the question I have to ask myself, though, is one of morality.  We teach the 13 year old that lying is not okay.  She is often grounded or on restriction from some privilege because she hasn’t been entirely truthful.  In our home, we tell her, there is no circumstance when lying is acceptable.  Yet, I lied.  I broke our own rule.  I had good reason, but I still lied.  Was I wrong?

There is the whole idea of “fake it until you make it” and I think that was my intent when I told the lie.  I want what I said to be true and I suppose that if I speak it often enough, it will be true (out of the heart, the mouth speaks?), but I feel like such a faker in the meantime.  I desperately want to leave a legacy of contentment, pleasure and gratefulness when it comes to body image to the girls I have the privilege of encountering, but do I have to lie to do it?

My prayer is that it won’t be a lie forever.  I pray that I am able to love what God has created and that I am able to some day speak the truth when I attempt to pass down a legacy of health and appreciation.  My prayer is also that I am not alone in this.  How devastating it would be to work so hard to pass on a beautiful gift of loving our bodies only to have the world/other women contradict what I am trying to do.  I don’t want my daughter(s) to leave me only to find out that the world won’t accept her for who she is, no matter what she looks like.  I want my daughter(s) to be confident in who they are and to surround themselves with women who feel the same way; women who will also pass on a legacy of positive body image.  I can’t do this alone.  None of us can.

Barlow Girl- Mirror

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, Have I got it?
‘Cause Mirror you’ve always told me who I am
I’m finding it’s not easy to be perfect
So sorry you won’t define me
Sorry you don’t own me

Who are you to tell me
That I’m less than what I should be?
Who are you? Who are you?
I don’t need to listen
To the list of things I should do
I won’t try, I won’t try

Mirror I am seeing a new reflection
I’m looking into the eyes
of He who made me
And to Him I have beauty beyond compare
I know He defines me (Yeah)

Who are you tell me
that I’m less than what I should be
Who are you?
Who are you? (Yeah)
I don’t need to listen
To the list of things I should do
I won’t try, no, I won’t try

You don’t define me (You don’t define me)

Who are you to tell me
That I’m less than what I should be
Who are you?
Who are you?
Yeah!
I don’t need to listen
To the list of things I should do
I won’t try, no, I won’t try
Yeah

Who are you to tell me
That I’m less than what I should be
Who are you?
Who are you?
Yeah
I don’t need to listen
To the list of things I should do
I won’t try, no, I won’t try

Worthy of the Calling

“Remember, you are an ambassador of our family.”

I can’t count the number of times I heard this statement growing up.  My parents would say this as I left to go to a friend’s house most often, but they would also throw it in there pretty much any time they wanted me to be on my best behavior and they weren’t going to be around to monitor it.  In fact, I literally, just heard this phrase come out of my mother’s mouth last Sunday as I was walking into a restaurant to meet up with my in laws.  I was in a bad mood and not thrilled to be spending my afternoon at a legit Chinese restaurant (I’m a VERY picky eater) rather than at the beach like I had planned, and my mom said, “Put a smile on your face; get it together.  Remember, you are my ambassador.”

I hated the phrase as a child and I hate it as an adult.  Ever since our 13 year old moved in with us, I find myself saying so many things I swore I would never say to my own kids, but I haven’t said the ambassador line.  I remember feeling the pressure as a child.  It felt that if I messed up, I would inadvertently bring my family down with me, even if my mistake had nothing to do with my family.  Granted, we lived in a small(ish) community and most people knew everybody’s business, but it was so much pressure to feel like I had to represent my family with my behavior.  My behavior, my mistakes, my successes, my, my, my… they all should have been mine, not my family’s.  When I heard the phrase earlier this week, I thought to myself, “Not anymore!  I’m an adult, with my own family… I represent ME!”

Do I really represent me though?  In Ephesians, Paul tells me that I don’t.  Paul reminds me that I represent Christ.  He encourages me to live a life worthy of the calling I have received.  In this verse, Paul tells me that I am Christ’s ambassador; I am responsible for representing Christ.

The pressure I felt when my parents reminded me that my successes and failures reflected directly on them wasn’t motivating as a child.  It felt like an overwhelming burden that I should not have had to carry.  So, why does Christ ask me to carry his burden in this same way?

Maybe it has to do with how and where the burden is placed.  For some reason, I don’t view my responsibility of being Christ’s ambassador as daunting of a task as I did being my family’s ambassador.  I think it is because Christ doesn’t place the burden on me.  He loves me and teaches me and gently leads me.  He doesn’t send me out to the wolves and say, “go get ’em tiger!”  He goes WITH me and when He expects me to represent Him, He tells me that His grace is enough.

I fail EVERY day at being love to the world.  I am judgmental and prideful and stubborn.  I have prejudices that are so ingrained in me that sometimes I don’t even recognize them.  I’m busy and don’t make time for people.  I, I, I… I could go on and on.  But that is the thing, it isn’t about me and my failures!  When I commit my life to Christ and when I focus myself on Him first thing in the morning and as often as needed throughout the day, I fade into the background and Christ shines through.  Being Christ’s ambassador isn’t a burden because He steps in when I fail and reveals Himself in both my successes and failures.

So, my friends, here’s your challenge.  Are you willing to allow love to be who you are?  Are you willing to fade into the background so that Christ can represent Himself through you, to let the Light shine though?  Are you willing to live a life worthy of the calling?  It is tough and it may seem overwhelming, but remember that He isn’t expecting perfection… He simply asks to be in front.  My parents put me out in front when they reminded me of my role as an ambassador, but Christ doesn’t do that.  He requests that you represent Him and then says, “and I’ll lead the way… I’ll put myself in front, if you let me.”  So let Him.  The task is much easier to endure when we allow ourselves to take a step back and allow Him to lead the way.

Live Like That- Sidewalk Prophets

Sometimes I think
What will people say of me
When I’m only just a memory
When I’m home where my soul belongs

Was I love
When no one else would show up
Was I Jesus to the least of those
Was my worship more than just a song

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am
Then this is where I’ll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that
I want to live like that

Am I proof
That You are who you say You are
That grace can really change a heart
Do I live like Your love is true

People pass
And even if they don’t know my name
Is there evidence that I’ve been changed
When they see me, do they see You

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am
Then this is where I’ll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that
I want to live like that

I want to show the world the love You gave for me
I’m longing for the world to know the glory of the King

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am
Then this is where I’ll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that
I want to live like that

Waiting

I am not a very patient person.  Just today my husband told me, “I think I figured out what we are going to do for our anniversary… but I can’t tell you.”  Instead of expressing my joy that he has taken it upon himself to plan something for our anniversary, I responded with, “I hate when you do that!  You can’t do that to me!  That isn’t fair!” and walked off in a huff.  The idea of knowing that there is a plan but not knowing any part of the plan drives me crazy; especially when I know that someone else knows the plan.  I don’t like feeling out of control.  I don’t like not knowing.

It feels as if the theme of my life revolves around my desire to be in control.  I am constantly trying to plan and prepare and God is constantly trying to get me to trust Him.  I think it is because of this constant tension, this never ending tug of war that I play with God, that I have spent the majority of the last six years in major times of transition.  It is difficult to be in control when you are transitioning into the unknown and that is exactly where I find myself more often than not.

I’m currently in the midst of transitioning into the unknown.  My husband is out of work.  I am almost halfway finished with my master’s program.  The house that we rent is up for sale.  We thought we were going to head toward a big city for more opportunities for my career and then a career opportunity here in our small town where we could be without a home with just 30 days notice at any moment presented itself to my husband.  We have no idea where we are going.  Before we had a child, we would laugh about these periods of transition and make silly hand movements while saying “adventure!” in weird cartoon like voices.  We never liked the times of transition, but we were able to find the positive side to them.  We haven’t said “adventure!” one single time in this period of transition.  I think we both feel the burden of providing for another human being and it is keeping us far less lighthearted about it.

Transitions into the unknown are tough.  They are painful and sometimes leave nicks and bruises and even scars.  These transitions test my patience and force me to rely on my God who I know is faithful because I have experienced His faithfulness so many times, especially while transitioning into the unknown.  For example, I remember moving out of an apartment I had picked out because Gavin and I were planning on getting pregnant.  We were moving out of the apartment, not pregnant and with no place to call home next.  It felt like my dreams were dying and I had no say over it.  And then, when I did get pregnant unexpectedly, God moved us to where we are now, which happens to be the place of my junior high dreams (for real) and we live in a house double the size of that dinky apartment and pay half the rent.  He knew what was best and my plans were so inadequate.  He provided.  He was faithful, even when I was faithless.

So, while I continue to transition into the unknown, I will wait.  I will wait with a heart of faith and gratitude.  I am thankful that I learn from my mistakes.  Just the other day, I started to worry and was allowing the anger to build in my heart about why we are going through this same thing again and then a wave of gratitude came over me.  Through tears, I was able to verbalize several things that came from this rubble both prior to and after it being rubble.  In junior high I wrote in my diary that I wanted to live somewhere green, where it rains a lot, is cold and near the beach.  I literally live in the place of my dreams right now.  Thankfulness.  I have made friends and experienced community deeper than anything I could have imagined, yet exactly what my heart was longing for.  Thankfulness.  I have had the opportunity to have a young girl in my home, which is exactly what I thought I wanted to do with my life when I started college.  Thankfulness.  My husband and I have grown and continue to grow into each other, into truly becoming one flesh.  Thankfulness.  There were several other things on the list, but you get the point.  While I wait, I will choose to be thankful.  I will choose the be faithful.  To listen and to follow His leading.  I will choose to continue to serve my God who is so faithful and loving.  I will continue to worship my God who provides all things and romances me with His trustworthiness.

And here is to you, my friends who are also transitioning into the unknown.  May you also know God’s faithfulness, yet experience it in new and exciting ways.  May you hold tight to the knowledge that your plans are inadequate and infinitesimal compared to His.  May you learn from your mistakes and walk through the fire with a heart of gratitude.

While I’m Waiting- John Waller

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I’m waiting
I will serve You
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it’s not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve you while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting on You, Lord

If you REALLY Loved Jesus

Have you ever felt in your heart that dread that follows sin?  You know that feeling you get when you have just given in to an addictive/habitual sin (and often it is within hours, even minutes, of pledging to never do it again)?  That voice that you hear loud and clear that says, “if you really were a Christian, if you REALLY LOVED JESUS, then this wouldn’t be an issue.”

I can tell you with absolute certainty that if you have felt this or if you even are feeling it right this very moment, that you are not alone.  The reason I can say this with such certainty is that I feel it.  I have felt it.  And, guess what, just the other day, I heard a room full of people talking about how they feel it.  Oh how freeing it was to hear that I wasn’t alone in my feelings, to realize that the enemy is predictable and therefore defeat-able.

As I have mentioned before, I have struggled with just about every aspect of sexual sin since, truthfully, before I can remember.  Still as an adult, a married woman, the battle is fought daily.  Old habits die hard and desire can be like an all consuming fire when it is not within God’s design.  And to make matters worse, I constantly hear the words of the enemy when he says that I can’t possibly be saved because if I was, I for sure wouldn’t be dealing with this anymore.

These thoughts, however, are tools of the oppressor.  They are used by the evil one against us to keep us from living freely.  Scripture states clearly that we are not alone in our temptations (1 Corinthians 10:13).  Jesus himself fought every battle we fight.  Just because He was God did not make him any less human and therefore any less susceptible to temptation.  In the same verse that tells us that we are not alone in our temptation, God promises us that He will provide a way out for us.  He will provide a way for you to endure it.  I’ve read that in the original text the meaning of “endure” has to do with a word picture of someone being able to stand under a heavy weight.  The weight is still there.  The verse says nothing about God taking the temptation away from me.  He simply says that I do not have to fail and that HE will provide me the strength to stand under it.

You see, it really has nothing to do with my love for Christ or not.  Despite what the enemy may tell me, my failure does not represent a lack of relationship.  I fail every day at being the wife I was created to be but that doesn’t mean I am no longer my husband’s wife or that I do not love him (and I do not think that anyone would accuse me of either of those offenses).  It simply means that I failed that day and that I am going to pick myself up and try to do a better job tomorrow.  It is the same thing with my relationship with Christ.  When I remember that He died for me, even thought He knew who I would be and what I would do, I am also reminded that His love is enough.  His death was the price that was paid and I don’t have to worry about how often I fail.  His grace is enough.  He decided before the day He thought me into existence that I was worth dying for and I have to just accept that as fact and move on.  Dwelling on my constant failure is not what He intends for me and it is not what He intends for you either.  Yes, there is responsibility in relationship.  Let us not forget our responsibility.  However, there is also grace and we get to freely accept it and then turn around and freely give it and live it.

“Worth Dying For” – MikesChair

You might be the wife,
Waiting up at night
You might be the man,
Struggling to provide
Feeling like it’s hopeless

Maybe you’re the son,
Who chose a broken road
Maybe you’re the girl,
Thinking you’ll end up alone
Praying God can you hear me?
Oh God are you listening?

Am I more than flesh and bone?
Am I really something beautiful?
Yeah, I wanna believe, I wanna believe that
I’m not just some wandering soul
That you don’t see and you don’t know
Yeah I wanna believe, Jesus help me believe that I
Am someone worth dying for

I know you’ve heard the truth that God has set you free
But you think you’re the one that grace could never reach
So you just keep asking, what everybody’s asking

Am I more than flesh and bone?
Am I really something beautiful?
Yeah, I wanna believe, I wanna believe that
I’m not just some wandering soul
That you don’t see and you don’t know
Yeah I wanna believe, Jesus help me believe that I
Am someone worth dying for

You’re worth it, you can’t earn it
Yeah the Cross has proven
That you’re sacred and blameless
Your life has purpose

You are more than flesh and bone
Can’t you see you’re something beautiful
Yeah you gotta believe, you gotta believe
He wants you to see, He wants you to see
That you’re not just some wandering soul
That can’t be seen and can’t be known
Yeah you gotta believe, you gotta believe that you
Are someone worth dying for

You’re someone worth dying for
You’re someone worth dying for

Rules, rules, rules!

Something I hear often is that Christians have too many rules and that Christians can’t have any fun. In high school, I had one particular friend who had no experience with Christians other than the fact that they were boring. I tried very hard to explain to him that we aren’t boring and can have fun, and tried to show him that my church friends and I could have fun. I wanted him to know that just because we didn’t cross the border to get drunk and do who knows what every Friday didn’t mean that my friends and I didn’t have a good time together; it was just a different kind of fun than he was used to. He was often surprised at the good times my friends and I had without doing anything illegal and staying completely sober.

In high school, I couldn’t communicate this issue to my friend very well. It has taken a long time for me to understand it and I think it is something a lot of people still struggle with. It isn’t about the rules. God doesn’t create a lot of rules simply to make our lives boring and to watch us fail. God gives us guidelines for or lives because he loves us. He has created these guidelines to enhance our lives; to give us freedom. He knows what is best for us and wants the best for us. The guidelines he places in our individual lives are so that we can live freely, without the pains and burdens that are of this world.

It is when I’m not in communion with the Father that these guidelines begin to feel restrictive and more like pointless rules than guidelines that lead me to freedom. I know when my relationship with God is not where it should be because the things of the world become appetizing and the fact that I can’t partake feels unfair and restrictive. It isn’t about me following rules or not, it is a heart issue; where am I in my walk with my God? Am I in an active and healthy relationship with him or am I separated from him because of my sin, guilt, shame, etc.?

I think there is a spectrum in the way we view God’s guidelines. On one side, we view them as restrictive rules that don’t bring freedom and peace. We resent them, refuse to acknowledge them and resist anyone who tries to call us to the table when we aren’t following them. At times on this spectrum, we are afraid to tell anyone about them because we see them as a negative in our own lives. We don’t see the freedom and therefore we don’t feel there is anything positive to share. We hate the guidelines and can’t understand their propose. This is a heart issue. On the other side of the spectrum, we focus on guidelines so much that we can’t live life. We tell everybody about the guidelines and turn people off because we aren’t focused on the outcome, but rather the guideline itself. We live a life that is restrictive and speak of our martyrdom; we resist anyone who speaks of freedom. The difference on this side is that we acknowledge the rules, and make them a huge part of our lives. However, the similarity is that we aren’t living in communion with God because if we were, we wouldn’t be on either end of the spectrum. There would be a healthy understanding of the guidelines and an inward and outward gratitude for the freedom the bring. Neither of these ends of the spectrum are healthy our what God has intended. As I said before, God intends these guidelines to bring freedom and enhance our lives. It is an issue of the heart and maturity when we find ourselves not in the middle of the spectrum, which is in a committed relationship with Christ.

As a parent (not only do I have my little man these days, but we also have a beautifully and wonderfully made 13 year old in our home), I understand this concept more and more fully.  I know that when I tell Micah, “not for babies” and I use a stern voice tone he is going to look at me and push his bottom lip out and then cry a little and I am going to have to kiss him and give him something that is for babies because that is what is best for him.  He doesn’t know it yet, but touching the hot oven rack will hurt him and my guidelines for his life are truly for his good.  In the same vein, when I tell our 13 year old that she cannot go to Taco Bell without an adult, I know that she is going to be disappointed and not understand, but I also know that my guidelines are for her own good.  If she were to go by herself, she could get abducted (and I don’t even want to think of what would happen after that), or something else could happen that could be prevented if she were with a responsible adult.  I am willing to deal with the pouty lip from Micah and the silent treatment from the teenager because I love them that much.  My hope is that one day my children will love their children enough to have these guidelines as well.  That will tell me that they understand and that they no longer view those guidelines as restrictive but have matured and know that those guidelines were for their own good.  And in the example of Micah, my hope is that when he is an adult and can freely touch the hot oven rack, he will decide not to because he knows it isn’t going to be good for him.

God likens Himself to a parent frequently in the Bible and I love that about Him.  Putting it in that perspective has helped me understand Him, especially when it comes to guidelines and freedom.  I appreciate that He has put guidelines in my life because I know that He loves me enough to do so.  I know that I am loved enough that someone cares to look ahead and say, “that isn’t going to be good for you, so I’m going to say no right now.”  I am romanced by that idea.  As a woman, I want to be in a loving relationship with someone who wants to protect me through His love.  As a child, I want a parent who is strong enough to be firm through His love.  It is only when I am not where I need to be in my relationship with God that ungratefulness seeps in.  That ungratefulness is supposed to act as a compass, though.  I am not supposed to stay ungrateful and bitter.  I am supposed to look at that ungratefulness and say, “something is not right” and fix it.

With relationship comes responsibility. When God created man, He created relationship and when He created relationship, He created responsibility.  Man walked away from that responsibility and there were consequences.  Nothing has changed.  Relationship between man and God, between Creator and creation, still exists and therefore responsibility in relationship still exists.  God created the institution of marriage to be the closest earthly representation of His relationship with His people and I do not think anyone would deny the fact that there is responsibility within a marriage relationship, so why do we fight against responsibility within our relationship with the creator of all things good?  Again, it is a heart issue.  So evaluate.  Where are you on the spectrum?  If you aren’t in the middle, grateful for the guidelines that God has given you and basking in the freedom those guidelines bring, I encourage you to evaluate your heart.  Know that holding up on your end of responsibility results in a beautifully masterminded freedom that cannot be recreated elsewhere.  And take heart my friends who live in the middle… you are right where you need to be despite any persecution that may come of it.

“Cry In My Heart”– Starfield

There’s a cry in my heart
For Your glory to fall
For Your presence to fill up my senses
There’s a yearning again
A thirst for discipline
A hunger for things that are deeper

Could You take me beyond?
Could You carry me through?
If I open my heart?
Could I go there with You?
For I’ve been here before
But I know there’s still more
Oh, Lord, I need to know You

For what do I have
If I don’t have You, Jesus?
What in this life
Could mean any more?
You are my rock
You are my glory
You are the lifter
Of my head
Lifter of this head

It’s Over Already (Part 2)?

Kim Kardashian posted a note to her fans today on her website and it struck a chord with me.

… First and foremost I married for love. I can’t believe I even have to defend this…Everyone knows I am a hopeless romantic! I love with all of my heart and soul. I want a family and babies and a real life so badly that maybe I rushed into something too soon. I believe in love and the dream of what I wanted so badly. I felt like I was on a fast roller coaster and couldn’t get off when now I know I probably should have. I got caught up in the hoopla and the filming of the TV show that when I probably should have ended my relationship, I didn’t know how to and I didn’t want to disappoint a lot of people… I’m being honest here and I hope you respect my courage because this isn’t ready to go through. But I do know that I have to follow my heart. I never had the intention of hurting anybody and I accept full responsibility for my actions and decisions, and for taking everyone on this journey with me. It just didn’t turn out to be the fairy tale I had so badly hoped for… I’m sorry if I hurt anyone, but my dad always told me to follow my heart and I believe now that I really am.

I do not have first hand experience with what she said, but my husband does, so I wanted to share a little bit about his story.
Back in 2002, my husband thought he had found the girl of his dreams. Physically, she was everything he had ever wanted. Emotionally, they clicked. Spiritually, she was a beautiful reflection of Christ and His love. So, a couple months after entering into a relationship with her, my husband asked his dream girl to marry him. She said yes and they spent a little over a year planning an extravagant and fairy tale like wedding.

Just three months after pledging to spend their lives together, my husband was devastated by his bride’s decision to leave the marriage. He begged and pleaded, offered to go to counseling and even got desperate and dramatic, but her mind was made up. She had to “follow her heart.” She gave a lot of different reasons to my husband and her friends and acquaintances, but in the end, I believe it was just as Kim said. You get caught up and then can’t find a way to end it.

Almost all little girls dream about our wedding day. We think about the dress we will wear and the flowers we will hold. We imagine the perfect man waiting for us at the alter, but, in our imaginations, we rarely go beyond that special moment. We don’t dream about blending our life with the life of another human being. We don’t fantasize about morning breath or toe nail clippings. We love the idea of being swept off of our feet but do we love the idea of truly doing life with another person day in and day out?

My husband told me a thousand times while we were engaged, “plan for the marriage not just the wedding.” He had learned his lesson and was wiser for it. His heart ached for a long time. He felt duped by the girl of his dreams (who turned out to be anything but) and forsaken by the God that he served faithfully. However, when I met my husband in the summer of 2006 (two years after dream girl left), he was a strong man who had been refined by the fire and understood what it meant to pledge forever.

We have to slow things down. We have to be prayerful about all things; especially huge, life altering decisions like marriage. We can’t give up easily. We have to know what kind of commitment we are making and stick to it. Trust me, you will be blessed.

We live in a society that stresses fierce independence and dogged self absorption, but that won’t get us anywhere. Love cannot be displayed, given or received in a world full of people who only care about themselves. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) Sometimes following our hearts, as much as we think it will make us feel better, is absolutely the wrong thing to do; especially when we have hardened our hearts to God’s loving regulations for our lives.

Divorce, in this situation, is sin. There are consequences for sin. Ask dream girl. I don’t know her personally, but we have mutual friends and I know that it was a long road toward restoration and wholeness for her. God loves his children and just as a human parent disciplines their own child, so does God. Revelation 3:19a says “Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline.” Not everything that is good for us, whether it is being disciplined or sticking it out and working very hard to make a relationship work, is pain free, pleasent and enjoyable. In fact, I would go as far to say that the things in my life that have been the most painful, unpleasent and unenjoyable are the same things that have made me into all of the good things that I am today. (Check out Hebrews 12)

Just as I said in part one of this blog, my heart is broken over this news. Anytime a heart is broken and a marriage is ended, it is sad. It is hard to imagine that kind of pain. I believe, because I know so intimately a very similar situation that Kim K. is broken hearted. She should have ended things prior to going through with pledging her life to someone, but she didn’t and now she has to live with that and deal with the consequences.

But you know what? My God is a God of love, forgiveness and restoration. As the song from part one says, he “makes beautiful things out of dust/us.” God loves Kim K. and his heart is aching right along with hers. He loves you! In all of your sin and bad decisions and heartache. He longs for restoration. He wants a relationship with you. He wants to love you like you’ve never been loved before.
If you are struggling right now; if you feel like you have made a mistake and simply got caught up in the loveliness of an idea, know that if you follow Him, He can make it work. Read some of my other entries for proof. If you are currently on that roller coaster and feel like it is too late to get off (engaged and not yet married), know that it is not too late. Slow down and plan for your life together. Think about the devastation you will leave behind if you try to get off after it is too late.

In the end, it all boils down to love. You are loved by the creator of love. There is nothing you have done or can do that will ever change that. It is a matter of accepting that love and turning around and loving in return.

Kim K.
I am so sorry that you felt you were in too deep when you weren’t. I’m sorry that you have given up hope so quickly. Like I said yesterday, you are loved and know that all things can be restored though Him who loves you!

 

Scenes of you come rushing through
You are breaking me down
So break me into pieces
That will grow in the ground
I know that I deserve to die
For the murder in my heart
So be gentle with me Jesus
As you tear me apart
[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/j/jj_heller/only_love_remains.html ]
Please kill the liar
Kill the thief in me
You know that I am tired of their cruelty
Breathe into my spirit
Breathe into my veins
Until only love remains

You burn away the ropes that bind
And hold me to the earth
The fire only leaves behind whatever is of worth
I begin to see reality
For the first time in my life
I know that I’m a shadow
But I’m dancing in your light

Teach me to be humble
Call me from the grave
Show me how to walk with you upon the waves
Breathe into my spirit
Breathe into my veins
Until only love remains