Are we spending time with God?
If the answer is no what is our excuse?
Who do we not want to be?
How do we not want to behave?
Some people take claim to busyness in their life as to why they don't have time to connect with God. They continually shove God to the back burner of their life yet always seem to be in search of something undefinable and always yearn for a love that is never quenched. It takes self discipline to make the necessary time with God... we have to choose what goes on the front burner versus the back in life.
Saying "Yes!" To Hope...
Some will mistakenly claim that God could never love someone like them... as if they are too far gone and a hopeless case. Perhaps they've never realized that there is a love out there that is unconditional and pure... free from any agenda... God's love is the best ever.
"Hey God, I Need Help!"....
Some may only cry out to God when they find themselves down in a rabbit hole like Alice... wondering how to get out, ready for a magic solution so they can carry on, yet once out and back on steady ground they move on without so much as a "thank you God" in return. They walk away in pride and misguided self reliance.
Some may live their life with a misguided philosophy of "Ask for forgiveness not permission"... aka meaning they just do what they want (sin) let it all hang out, have fun in the sun and then at the eleventh hour before their last breath THEN request God's forgiveness. They may squeak into Heaven but will they have lived a life of joy?
But I Have "This Or That".... So I'm Off The Hook....
Some people may attempt to use a "get out of jail free" card because of Narcissism. Someone with Narcissism may erroneously believe that they are owed this or that, lacking empathy or showing it... differences due to a mental and or emotional state may certainly impact their life. But having these things doesn't let them off the hook in loving and serving others and walking a humble path. Likewise, a man or woman with Aspergers that involves a natural self-focus on their likes, desire and interests doesn't condone living a life doing just that… they must seek balance and have an interest in others.
God sees our struggles.
God sees our limitations, our capacities, our strengths, weaknesses, our mental and emotional limits, our damaged selves. He sees when we've inherited genetics that create more difficulties with staying in His word. He sees when we are struggling with the impulsivity and restlessness that goes with ADHD. Yet these aren't excuses to sin... Having ADHD isn't a free ticket to act out or fly the coop because the monotony of Monday through Friday is comparable to being stifled in a closet.
Believing But Not Pursuing...
When I was in my twenties I believed in God yet didn't pursue a relationship with Him. When I married my ex husband at twenty two I was adamant we get married in a church. It's amusing to me now to look back on that because I was so well intentioned but yet so incredibly misinformed. In my young naivety I truly believed getting married in a church would stamp my marriage with His approval and it would be blessed. It never once occurred to me that perhaps it might have been wise to have God in the marriage not just at the church. Not until after many years, two kids and a very stressful marriage did I see the true importance of this and how miserably lacking the union was in the spiritual sense. We can't expect to slap a bandaid on a situation later and expect it to work out if we haven't laid the proper foundation to begin with.
What was my excuse? None. Perhaps many contributing factors but no real excuse. If we believe in God who are we to then dismiss Him as if not having any true relevance in our life? Doing so leads us to a path that's not the best for us.
Injustice As An Excuse...
God sees when we feel jipped in life... when we feel wronged and if we believe we are owed something. We may try to justify our actions due to past injustices but these are zero excuse to push God away or commit sinful behavior. We may fail but we can turn to God in humble spirit and ask for forgiveness knowing His love is greater than any sin we commit.
God sees our busy days, our packed schedules and yet He would love to have a minute of our time... He would love to be included in our day, to be asked "What do you think about this, God?" Instead of us filling every waking minute with noise and media... the truth is... silence is golden. It's in those quiet moments that God can whisper "I've missed you." or "You need to apologize to this person..." or "Stop. Doing. That." ... whatever He is trying to tell us we can remember: His conviction is not to condemn, not to hurt but instead between each word He touches us with there within lies the weaved message of:
I love you.
That's a beautiful message to share with someone we love.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2013
I watched him carefully as he winced, his facial expression one of pain. It was a look I knew well and had known for years. I watched as he reached down to grasp his knee.
"It's going to rain tonight." I said quietly.
He looked over at me "It is?" He asked.
"Yea..." I trailed off. I glanced over at our son, waiting for him, so I could leave and head home. Above us, the evening sky was streaked with colors of salmon and dust blue from the setting sun.
"How do you know?" He asked me with curiosity.
I spoke without hesitation "Because your knee hurts." I told him.
He paused, looking at me first with quiet shock, as if I'd taken him off guard... that I remembered. Then his face broke into a smile... "Yeah..." He nodded, "You remember."
I nodded and briskly moved on.
Of course I remember.
It's hard to forget all the little things about someone you've known since you were nineteen and now thirteen years of (broken) marriage later... considering that means knowing this person nearly half a life... you don't forget it... or all the other little things about them overnight.
There is VALUE in someone knowing everything about you.
I wondered fleetingly if he realized that.
If he knew that.
If he missed that.
At the end of the day that was his buisiness not mine and internally I shrugged knowing regardless it really made zero difference now... it was a mute point. But I realized something... very defining in that moment... that I had noticed I'd been working toward for awhile but now it settled over me like a comforting shawl-like blanket around my shoulders.
I had lost the rage, the anger, the hate... slowly dissipating bit by bit in tiny increments.
It had been diminishing more and more with lots of prayer, reading God's word, His conviction...
I had reached a new destination in my journey of healing. It was freeing.
It was peaceful.
It was detachment.
And maybe a little pity for him.
By no means did this mean I would forget what he did in that I certainly wasn't going to open the door to hand out trust or invite unnecessary crazy in my life.Because unlike that song I don't want crazy calling me maybe. The best part was I didn't feel a need to fight. Fire doesn't need fire, it needs a strong spray of water. And a good exit plan so you don't get burned.
Instead I knew my boundaries. And it was what it was.... I didn't owe any explanations or soft peddling or compromising for the boundaries I chose. It was suddenly simple, so not complicated and all very matter of fact. Later that night as I listened to the thunder rumble... predictably rolling in, becoming closer as my children set up a board game for us to play and soon hearing the rain hitting the roof...
I thought of how much sin hurts families when poor choices are made that reflect a lack of value... appreciation... for the person who knows everything about you... every glance, look, pause and the silence that speaks between you. Some people would give their right arm to have that... to have that with someone because they are unhappily alone. I can think of nearly nothing better than knowing someone so intimately you finish each others sentences, you clasp their hand when you know they are struggling, you know just when to crack a joke to lighten the mood and when feeling beyond exasperated with them you turn the kitchen sink sprayer (true story) on them with a gleeful laugh along with it... only to be wrestled and tackled for it and get soaked back.
One day I will have that.
But better yet someone who appreciates it.
The opposite of love is not hate.
Hate requires as much energy if not more than love. It's a flashing sign of pain within. It's all-consuming. It's real and yet so not pretty. It's undeniably exhausting. It's boiling and acidic and makes you feel... feel awful... you waffle like a red light green light game between feeling justified and feeling convicted... knowing you need God more than ever before.
Peace can be yours...
Peace can be for each of us.
If we don't do but one thing today... one thing at all... let's tell one person who loves us, who we are blessed to know in our life, who knows everything about us...
how much we value them.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2013
We tend to think of it as the end.
After all, Cinderella found her prince,
lived happily ever after and....
the story ended.
Novels and romantic films have so often led us to believe that when boy meets girl, they get married, consummate the marriage and inevitably it's the end of the road for those folks... with nothing left to look forward to and live for.
But this couldn't be further from the truth.
Marriage is the beginning.
The exchanging of "I do's" at the altar is a significant starting point for two people coming together in love. It's saying "I choose you this day and every day here forward. I choose to love you and give myself to you entirely. I choose to obey God and by doing so our marriage will bear beautiful fruit."
We begin with a pocketful of hopes and dreams, we dream of the simplicity of a quaint apartment, we save for the house with the picket fence, we picture ourselves sharing coffee over kids and a dog in a cheery kitchen adorned in finger paint art. We can see it with starry eyes and although we want to get there it's certainly not a final stop. Marriage is the beginning of a beautiful life to be shared... including many little beginnings... pockets of them like tiny treasures found along a shoreline in this journey we call life with the one we love.
The intimacy we share with the one we love in a marriage is unlike any we will ever find. We know this person's thoughts, grumbles, gripes, scars, warmth, joys, laugh, sorrows, losses, kindness, dreams, goals, scent, facial expressions... we know their silence... we know often just by their body language, a glance... or what they aren't saying when something is wrong or right. We see them at their best, worst and lowest and yet the ride continues... God uses marriage as a way to shape each one of us... to make us more like Him and less like the world.
We consummate our marriage and it's not a grand finale announced with streamers and horns but instead the beginning of a constant stream, a long river for us to ride, to float, to explore and delight in.... it's the beginning of many new beginnings to know this person initimately unlike any other on earth and to know they are ours and we are theirs... that together we are one and it delights God.
In marriage we choose again and again to forgive this person we married and this may be incredibly difficult to do when you live with them... when we are in such close proximity to one another... sharing a bathroom and a bed, it may often seem impossible or beyond daunting.... but God calls us to forgive. Because we are so undeserving of forgiveness ourselves yet God forgives us. It certainly doesn't mean we don't act like it didn't happen, however badly we were wronged... we don't stick our head in the sand, act like our spouse didn't do anything sinful, we don't lay like a doormat or even trust them anytime soon. Trust has to be earned bit by bit over time.
But we can still choose forgiveness also knowing it gives us peace and a chance to move forward. How do we know when our spouse is repentant? When a spouse is truly sorry for their hurtful actions they take responsibility and back it up with new actions to prove it, showing humility and love. It may take a long time to give them your trust again and at the end of the day it may not even be possible. Only you know depending upon your specific circumstances. But whether we choose to stay or move on... in that both being new beginnings... from a marriage we can still choose to forgive, squashing that fleshly desire to not.
Marriage is choosing everyday to obey God... to honor this person you've chosen to share your life with, for when we obey Him it consequently affects others for the better also.... beginning with the one we love and our children. Obeying God's word has a domino effect on our loved ones and each day we have a new beginning to do just that... to choose to turn from our old ways... alcohol, abuse, neglect, working too much and so much more to begin again.... to have a fresh start and walking in light not darkness.
A beginning of two people coming together... yet it's also a beginning for you... for each and every one of us... to chisel us bit by bit to become not what we wish but what God desires us to be.
That sounds like the best story ever.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2013
A couple fighting -- best done when they are doing it constructively... and fairly.
When we take the time to listen to our spouse, repeating back to them (affirming) what they are telling us and showing we understand each other, great things can happen in our relationship...
connecting as a team not as adversaries
understanding another's view other than our own
showing empathy toward one another
There are unfortunately things every couple find themselves fighting about at some point and always the typical triggers in every marriage. It's normal to argue as long as we are doing it in a healthy manner. These triggers/arguments tend to be what create small rifts between couples and what can over time if not adequately addressed lead to strife, resentment, distancing etc. No one wants to find themselves in that disappointing predicament down the road however much they are or are not to blame... have unwittingly or knowingly contributed. There are three commonly known triggers that we can all be aware of and thankfully with mutual continual conscious effort try to overcome!
In many marriages there is a cat and mouse game in continual play. One spouse is the pursuer and the other is the pursued. This may be played out during the courtship time period and then later reflected sexually in the marriage. There's nothing really wrong with this but one aspect to consider... is it a pattern that's becoming an issue for one person?
Is one person feeling continually rejected? If the answer is yes and there are genuinely hurt feelings the issue needs to be addressed. Equally important, is the other person tired? For example it may be challenging for one person to be excited about having sex if they are chronically exhausted... especially at the times the pursuer (it may the husband, or it may be the wife) is initiating it. If a wife is worn out at 9,10,11 pm at night and does not feel sexy... merely wants to crash and go to sleep then having sex at that time may not be feasible and lead to frustration on both sides, argument, hurt feelings, etc. Unfortunately it may lead the husband to feeling rejected when that's simply not his wife's true intention.
It's important for husbands and wives to have these honest conversations (as unsexy as they may be) and just be forthright in saying "In a perfect world I wish I had the energy at 11pm... but I just don't. All I want to do is sleep. But a lunch date at 1pm... or early morning... 5pm, etc... would be great!"
We need to make sure we are having these honest conversations... because it's not that you're incompatible but your ----> timing <---- may certainly be!
One of the other issues for couples in marriage seems to be related to romance. When were dating everything is so deliciously unpredictable and unexpected... ... a caress with his hand on your cheek leads to a kiss which leads to a warm embrace. If we can remember back to when we dated and still try to implement some of those little things into our marriage instead of always (reject becoming stagnant) going through the motions of straight to the point robotic sex (wham, bam, thank you ma'am) it brightens the entire marriage including in the bedroom. We can remember that if our timing is better suited to 5pm... walking in the door and taking a few minutes to set the mood (candles, dimmers)... finding your spouse and merelyinitiating (not asking or commanding... but instead "shut up and kiss me") goes a long way in not just our physical connection but investing in our marriage long term.
He/She who holds the purse strings has the power... and that's why money isn't really about money at all. It's about power and fear. Are you fearful of not having the sole power? Maybe. Are you fearful of not having any power? More than likely, heck yes, you are. This fear may undoubtedly (and understandably) be heightened if you're a stay home mom.
Couples can alleviate this fear by realizing they have TWO choices:
1. Let the person who manages the money best do it yet
let their spouse have access to everything so they can review it on a continual basis.
2. Manage the money/pay the bills together
No one wants to feel like they are in the dark and don't have a voice in the budget so to eradicate any fear of this it's vitally important that we have candid conversations with our spouse when it comes to money management. There should be common goals you both stick to financially. One could be a minimum amount you both must commit to keep in your savings account at all times. This helps you reach your goal in saving toward retirement. Another could be if you can't agree on spending money on something whether it be a new house, a pricey vacation or remodel then it may be best to hold off for six months. It's okay to agree that you disagree and agree to revisit the issue later.
Couples may squabble over who should do which chores and they may each believe they are doing more than the other spouse. Keeping score is a no win for both people. Creating and managing a home is not to be a source for marital battle yet it often becomes one. Instead of expecting each person to do x,y,z equally, perhaps it would be wiser to realize some chores are best done by the woman and some are best done by the man or aka whoever does them best.
If a wife enjoys doing the dishes but a husband enjoys (or is more efficient) at tossing the laundry in to be washed... then allocating the jobs to the person who enjoys them or completes them well is likely best. When we are dating we enjoy spending time with each other and even doing the little projects together brings fun and closeness. Some of my favorite memories (in the very early married years) spent with my ex husband were projects around the house... painting together, doing laundry at the laundromat together, cooking together etc... it helps keep your relationship playful, alive and close. It's these things that deepen your bond while bringing a sense of accomplishment to your marriage.
When we take the time to affirm our spouses view point, to acknowledge their frustrations, to contribute problem solving ideas and to speak affirming words that give life to our marriage...
we not only enrich our sex life and our money management but our home...
knowing that fighting fair for our marriage, arguing it out, is incredibly worth it...
every day of our life.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2013
Bang... Bang... Bang...
"911... What's your emergency?"
"I need an officer... I need some help with my son. He's out of control."
"What's he doing?"
"He's banging something against his bedroom door. I've told him to stop and he won't. He's already hit me."
"Has he ever done this before? Has he attacked you before?"
What do you do when your son is showing signs of turning into the last person you would wish him to?
Your ex husband.
When men treat their wives poorly, when they stonewall and don't give an answer, when they dismiss their wives and act indifferent, when they treat them as less-than and give them zero respect... when they say "I don't care what you think!"... or "I'll do whatever I want!" or the real kicker: "When someone tells me to do something the more I WON'T do it!".... when they cheat and lie, when they act out with rage over nothing... it sets a terrible example for their sons.
As a mother you can only do so much... you can only offset the damage being done to your children so much. It appears to be an uphill battle and it is. It's despairing to witness your otherwise sweet son beginning to walk a path you know will lead to destruction, tears and pain.
***** Draw the line at abuse *****
We are meant to be loving yet firm and certainly not enablers.
When we enable we are guilty like the perpetrator himself.
It's in all the little (and big) things that your ex does and continues to do that waters the seed of what does not make up a Godly man within your son. When he must have the newest iPhone the day it comes out because "he deserves it"... it's teaching him that he doesn't have to wait for anything because he's entitled and special unlike "those other people"... it's needing everything to be a "big deal" with lights and confetti, not appreciating the little things in life... you see it when your son scoffs at you about taking his basketball outside to play and he replies "you act like that's a big deal"... it's when you tell him to take his ADHD medication and he refuses and says "I don't need it! I don't have a problem! I can do fine without it!" ... because like his dad there is a deep rooted denial there is any issue.
As mothers we can only do so much.
No one tells you about the continual battle you will be engaging in... more so if your ex is in denial his behavior will affect the children, more so if he won't admit he has an issue himself or simply doesn't care because he'd rather use the children as pawns to score big against you in the short term rather than doing the right thing in the long term.
Yes, it's incredibly frustrating.
The thirty-something male officer with dark hair and handsome features stood beside me flanked with two other officers as I spoke to my son...
"Now... this is what happens when you hurt your family and act out and don't follow directions and destroy property. I'm not putting up with you tearing up my house or hurting anyone. You act like this when you're twenty five or thirty and treat your wife like this she WILL call the police on you and they will GLADLY take you away. There are consequences to how we behave."
Inside, I'm thinking to myself... if God forbid, this behavior continues please spare some poor woman, don't get married... do her a favor and stay off the dating circuit.
He scowled at me... angry... and stomped off to his room. The officer said he was going to talk to him and followed him to his room. I stood outside the door listening to him tell my son that he would NOT treat me with disrespect and that he WOULD behave himself and not hurt others, that women are not to hurt.
This man, this officer was telling him everything he needed to hear. Everything that he needed to be told. What he needed to be told everyday. And not just told... butSHOWN. Inside I mourned that my son didn't have that... that my son didn't get that. I wanted to cry and although I kept up a strong front, inside I was crying. Crying out to God. Thanking Him for this man in my home. Thanking him for this help.
It's the downward spiral... the negative cycle of society today... if a man doesn't set the example his son needs his son may become like him, affecting yet another generation... affecting yet another family and causing great grief and unnecessary chaos.
The officer spoke with me assuring me, letting me know I did the right thing, telling me to not hesitate to call again if needed to and that I did not have to put up with that behavior. His twinkling dark eyes were sympathetic to my situation and I guessed he saw this often in the aftermath of divorce or even families still together but yet not truly united. Part of me deep inside wanted to ask him to stay... as if I could borrow him, check him out like a book from the library to help... but that was fear talking, worrying about the future, so I hushed it, pushed it away and very simply but graciously thanked him for his help, closing the door behind him with weary resigned thankfulness.
Later I would be accosted by him with a barrage of accusing verbal assaults "Wow! How could you do that?!", "You called the police on your son?! ...Wow!" which was later fueled by his father.
Yes, yes I did.
Because I don't have to take abuse.
As mothers it's unfortunately sometimes up to us to teach our sons not to abuse.
And yet in teaching our sons it also teaches our daughters they don't have to take abuse either.
And neither do you.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2013
As parents we must pray for our children,
remembering God can work in small ways now that
later show in big ways... we must have hope.
image “Nine One Button Shows Call Emergency Help Rescue 911”
by Stuart Miles via FreeDigitalPhotos.net