May you rejoice in the wife (husband) of your youth. Proverbs 5:18
As i was walking down the beach today I overheard an elderly lady chatting with her friends. “Do you know what the number #1 bucket list item is? She paused and excitedly exclaimed,,,,’To fall in Love.” and then she paused, smiled and said “Again”.
Was she a widow? divorced? All I know is that she would put falling in love….Again at the top of her bucket list.
As I continued to walk along the shore, I remembered a simple poem I wrote many years ago (see below) about how God desires for us to fall in Love again and again with our spouse for He came to make all things new. We can’t control our spouse or change him, but we can ask God for help to be the best wife, mistress and best friend to our husband as possible.
How to Fall in Love…………. Again
Oh give my husband a brand new wife One that will serve him lovingly Give him the helpmate he deserves And may that “new wife” always be me
Oh give my husband a hot mistress One that will surprise him lovingly Give her energy and fresh ideas And may that “mistress” always be me
Oh give my husband a new best friend One that will listen lovingly Give her wisdom to find the good And may that “best friend” always be me
Would you like a few practical suggestions on how to spice things up?
A sweet sister confessed over lunch last week that her and her husband were in a bad rut and weren’t communicating ahead of time about their needs.
I told her “How about picking an emoji and sending it so the each other earlier in the day so the night doesn’t go too late and both prepare to get to the room before both our too tired?” Then dear sister when you are in the bathroom preparing for your rendezvous, say a quick prayer “Lord, give me a desire for my husband” Then put on some lipstick, perfume and maybe some high heels to help put you in the mood.
Does your husband work like a microwave in the bedroom? and you are more of a crock-pot? how about communicating using sports analogies. My friends husband loves sports so we thought up a way to relay the message using baseball terms. “Sweetie, you can’t get a home-run with out touching all the bases”.
Consideration and mutual respect needs to go both ways. If one is too tired than make a plan for when a rendezvous will work. “Tonight I’m too tired, but tomorrow morning will work”. If you were the one to postpone then be sure to follow-up and show your husband that you do find him desirable.
Marriage is such a sacred gift and we need to do all we can to nurture and protect it.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the word Love lately as Dave and I just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary, and so I thought now would be a fitting time to share this poem I wrote last year. The I Corinth. 13 love chapter ends with the words, Love Never Fails…but I prefer the more powerful phrase Love Always Wins. (so much so that it hangs on a plaque above my stove) For our anniversary we went to the newest Sight and Sound production titled JESUS and in this spectacular, state of the art production one quiet scene spoke the loudest. At the last supper, Jesus invited Judas to sit next to him and lovingly he kneels down and carefully washes his feet. Jesus, all God and all man, the Maker of Heaven and Earth kneels down to wash the feet of his betrayer. Isn’t this our own story? While we were yet sinners, the holy God of the universe kneels down to take the form of a human and then rescues us by pouring out his own blood to wash us completely clean. Will you let Him wash your feet? and then Will you wash the feet of those causing you to suffer?
Love Always Wins
Oh my sweet friend, True Love Always Wins
Come to The Well
again and again
Fill up to the brim with all that’s true
He came to restore, make All things New
Oh my sweet friend, True Love Always Wins
Oh my sweet friend, True Love Never Fails
Once we sat helpless in death-rows jail
God’s red love lavished to set us free
Long- suffering turns the prison door key
Oh my sweet friend, True Love Never Fails
True love is bloody and sometimes it hurts
True love kneels down and then takes off His shirt
I sat in church that January my heart aching from five years of infertility which had just ended in a second miscarriage. A visiting, itinerant priest, a friend of our pastor’s from seminary, announced he was there to talk personally with anyone who needed to discuss her relationship with God.
Well that wasn’t me!
I went to church every Sunday, prayed with my husband, and
even taught the 8th grade class right there at church, but I didn’t talk to
anyone about my relationship with God.
As Father Fred stood at the back of church shaking hands with people as
they left, I was making a wide arc to avoid him when I felt compelled instead
to go speak with him. Before I knew it,
I found myself saying, “I think I ‘m supposed to talk to you about my
relationship with God.”
I went to meet with him and poured out my heart and ended with,
“I don’t understand what I’ve done that has made God angry with me. I don’t understand why he is punishing me like this.”
Father Fred smiled a big warm smile and chuckled a bit. He went on to explain that ever since the first day he had been ordained a priest God had been sending him infertile couples and he had known when I saw him in the church why I was coming to see him. For decades, he had kept a list of infertile couples and he would pray that they could find their lost fertility. He told me in all the years of his list, he had never had one couple who couldn’t conceive. He asked me if I’d like to be placed on his list. I was so excited. This was all I needed. I could be right with God if I could just be on the list of this holy priest to whom God had given this special ministry. Father Fred prayed over me and I got up to leave. He motioned for me to remain sitting and said, “Now, let’s talk about your relationship with God.”
I was confused. Being
on the list was what I needed. Exactly
what I needed. But God wasn’t leaving me
in the misconceptions of my immature faith so Father Fred couldn’t either.
Father asked if I could picture the most painful memory of
all I had experienced. I said,
“Yes. I see the doctor’s face, hear the
monitor beeping, feel my husband’s hand.
I see it all, Father.” He gently
responded, “No. You don’t.”
“You don’t see where Jesus was in that moment and I promise you that he was there with you.”
He told me to ask Jesus where he was. “Lord where were you?” I cried in a half-sob. I closed my eyes and pictured the scene again and this time I could see Jesus standing by me and when the doctor spoke those cruel words, I could see him bend over me, shielding me.
Then I saw so many of the other scenes from this painful journey and I could see Jesus with me through it all. Father Fred asked, “What is Jesus doing?”
I answered, “He’s
“And why is he crying?” Father asked.
“Because I’m hurting and he’s hurting.”
“Why is he hurting?” prodded Father.
“Because he loves me,” I sobbed.
“That’s right! “Father joyously exclaimed. “Jesus loves you! He’s not punishing you because of something you did wrong. He’s hurting for you because he loves you.”
Father Fred went on to tell me that bad things happen in the world because sin exists and bad things that happen were not even necessarily the result of our own sin. Sin and the sad that resulted from it were never what God wanted, but that he could bring good from it if I would let him.
I felt so much better and thanked him and got up to
leave. Father motioned for me to sit and
said, “Now, I’ll hear your confession.”
I wasn’t ready for that. I liked
to prepare. Father said, “Relieve
yourself of these sins you feel are so great that you believe God is angry with
you and punishing you.”
In Isaiah 40:1-2, God says:
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed,that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
God forgave me and I needed to believe it. I have spent years learning that lesson – God has forgiven me of anything I had done. The negative feelings I now felt weren’t an issue with God; I needed to learn to forgive myself.
Father listened to my sins and told me God forgave me.
Then he paused and said, “I’m getting a very strong feeling from the Holy Spirit that you are going to be pregnant by Easter. Yes. Easter. Let’s pray you can carry this baby to term.” We prayed. I thanked Father and left.
I went happily through the season of Lent. The peace my faith had brought me during our
infertility and miscarriage trials had inspired my husband to seek Jesus and he
was preparing to be baptized at Easter, April 16. It was a joyous, hope-filled time. We made a peaceful spiritual retreat to
lovely Savannah, Ga and grew in faith and love of God. Two weeks before Easter, we discovered Father
had been wrong. I was not pregnant, but
I talked to God about that and told him we had so much growth that it was okay
that Father had been wrong and had misinterpreted the message God had sent.
My husband was baptized at Easter. It was a beautiful time and it made it ok that Father Fred had been wrong.
Except, he hadn’t been.
Two weeks after Easter, I discovered I was pregnant and looking back on all those records folks struggling with infertility keep, I was a day or two pregnant at Easter when my husband had been baptized.
I did go on to carry our little girl, not only to term but two weeks past. Savannah was born in January – exactly a year after I had met with Father Fred. Easter Sunday that year was on my birthday and Father Fred just happened to be passing through visiting our pastor for Easter. He gave me the best birthday gift I’ve ever received when he baptized Savannah on that Easter birthday of mine.
In so many ways then and since then God has shown me the
truth of Jeremiah 29:11-13 –
11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you,plans to give you hope and a future.12 You will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
With my heart broken, I sought a relationship with God, and in finding that relationship, God healed that broken heart.
In the years that followed, I learned: God has good plans for us and they are so much
bigger than our own plans. I learned to
forgive myself if for no other reason because God forgave me and his is a
perfect example to follow. Most of all,
I learned to look for Jesus in my times of hurt because he is there.
Divorce can be devastating for a single mom, especially knowing that God hates divorce. How do you reconcile this? After being divorced for 20 years, I will cut to the chase and give you the bottom line for me.
God hates divorce, but He loves more!
If you read the story of the woman at the well from the Gospel of John 4:4-26, you will see that Jesus desires the woman’s worship over and above her guilt. This is what set her free to become the first evangelist! This may be comforting to you, but what about your children who grow up without a dad or has a distant father? I’m sure you’ve heard the odds of what happens to boys who are raised without a father. I surely did when my son was only a baby when my marriage ended. Fear and anxiety set in knowing that the distance of his father was going to mean that there would be little to no interaction – the interaction that would keep my son out of serious counseling or even jail. Miraculously, by the grace of God, this didn’t happen. At least not yet, and my son is now 24.
In fact, raising my son was the most enjoyable time of my life, and fruitful indeed! This single mom didn’t experience the normal exasperation of raising a child alone.
In fact, I seemingly enjoyed the easiest teenage years compared to most intact families, resulting in a mature, responsible, deep-thinking, God-fearing young man who also gave me a beautiful, amazing, puts-me-to-shame daughter-in-law.
How did this “fabulous fruit” come to pass when the odds were against it? Here are some spiritual truths that provided the necessary nurturing of my little seed and practical tips that watered and fed this little guy to the wonderful young man that he has become. If you find yourself in this unfortunate, sometimes tragic situation, you may want to try these suggestions.
• First and foremost – Commit yourself, your Child , and your Parenting to the Lord. Realize your child is a miracle and a gift from God, but he/she belongs to Him.
You will never be alone! God says in Isaiah 41: 10
“Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
I can’t say enough about the peace that I received from the Lord and all His incredible guidance. He provided always with gifts of wisdom, financial means, and forgiveness of my former spouse.
• Delve into the Word. As your young child sleeps, plays, etc., take this time of your singleness to intensely study the Bible. There is much wisdom, and you will need this to parent your child. Personally, I spent the first 7 years of my son’s life in Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) and 3 more years in Community Bible Study (CBS). You can find these classes in most major cities.
Your closeness with the Lord will guide you in your parenting in ways that you could never fathom.
Remember that God loves your child more than you ever can. It’s awesome to see God’s hand on you and your child!
• Pray for “daddy” with your child. (No matter how you feel about your child’s father). This will keep a distant father in your child’s life in an important way. Address God as “Our Perfect Father in Heaven” when you pray, and this will distinguish God as your husband and Father who will love, care, and provide SECURITY for your family and who will never fail you. Keep your emotional and material issues with your child’s father undisclosed. Wait until your child is asleep to call a friend or counselor to discuss any pain you are feeling toward your child’s father and the loss of your marriage.
Christian Counselors are very helpful. They can provide a perspective that you may not see. I was feeling anxious, fearful, and helpless during the early years, and my counselor was able to provide practical ways to get through the day and provide hope for the future.
• Daily Devotions with your child will be like having God in your house! Your child will feel more secure knowing that his perfect Father is listening and guiding each and every day.
• Pray for Godly men in your child’s life. Coaches, teachers, pastors, and neighbors, will provide examples that your child can model.
• You need your sleep. If you are alone with a young baby or child, you will need to teach your baby to sleep. Make sure your child learns that their crib is not for playtime and they will learn to take sleep seriously. Put them down, say goodnight, and walk away. Use a pacifier, if necessary. Expect them to sleep and they will learn to do so…as long as they are not distressed or sick. If they fall asleep outside the crib, make sure they wake up in the crib. Stick to scheduled naptimes. When your child is older, set a time limit for when your child is allowed to get out of bed. For me, it was 7:30 a.m. My son was told that he needed to wait until then.
• Refrain from using the word “no.” Instead say “you may not do that” or “sorry, but that’s not allowed.” Children, unfortunately, will mimic the words you use, and “no” isn’t a very pleasant one to hear from your child. Your tone and words should always be respectful.
• Provide security. Surround yourself with Godly friends and family. Grandparents are great for this. We also had wonderful neighbors who were always there for us. My son knew where to go if he needed someone’s help in an emergency.
• Messaging should be consistent. Your child needs consistency in their world-view. I was fortunate to be able to provide Christian education for my son, and we also attended the same church throughout his upbringing. School, church, and home messaging was consistent and constant. We loved our church, and it was never a thought to miss a Sunday.
• Always be honest. When you hear your little Kindergartener, in his car seat behind you, begin a conversation with “Tell me the truth, Mom” and proceeds to ask about the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and the tooth fairy all at the same time, give it to him straight. (Yikes ) Also, refrain from sarcasm, bribery, and threats. Trust and respect are crucial.
• Expect obedience. If your child thinks it’s okay to disobey you until a second or third repeated request, you are teaching them to not obey you. This is where the “higher-calling” comes into play. Those daily child devotions are full of life lessons that encourage the importance of obedience.
• Raise your child to be a decision-maker. If my son wished to wear shorts outside in the dead of winter, that’s what he did. I knew that if he was cold enough, he could come inside or change his clothes. He decided when to do his homework while he was in Grammar school. I remember when I was picking him up after school and feeling delighted to see him lying face down on the trampoline at his friend’s house with his books spread out, while his friend was bouncing around. This attitude continued till high school when his homework habits were solidly getting him through those difficult years. Making his own decisions provided the confidence he needed for work (he was an umpire at age 12) and later on in his college years.
In conclusion, notice that the flip side to the Isaiah verse (above) is Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Let this encourage you. I rejoice happily, for God has blessed me with this fruitful life. He will give you a fruitful life as well, if you commit to give Him the glory.
Have you ever had to make a U-turn because you missed your destination? Maybe you didn’t realize you missed your destination, so you went miles out of your way before you had to turn around. Or maybe you were going down a one way road? As you drove in the wrong direction, you kept stopping for fuel, bathroom breaks and fast food. You knew all the right things you had to do to keep things going, but you still hadn’t recognized that you needed to adjust your journey? Isn’t that the way life goes sometimes, but not just when we are driving on the highway, but in our day to day too? I found myself there many times, and I have only found one true adjustment that works- will you join me in a short journey today and make a U-turn with me? One April Monday, the Sweet Sisters met for our study on “Trusting God”. We have been sharing specific trust stories in our lives and Monday was my turn to share. As you read this, I hope you are inspired to find Jesus and meet Him where you are. My trust story started when I was twelve years old and accepted Jesus into my heart. I wish I could say the rest was easy, but it has been a long and windy road. Two years ago something happened that motivated me more than any other time in my life. I had my routine mammogram and within two days had the call that we all dread. I needed to come back.
I did two things, I prayed, and then I called my husband. Then FEAR set in. All the what if’s and preparation for the worse. Being a nurse and knowing what I could potentially face increased my fear. Fast forward two weeks and I’ve had an ultrasound, a needle biopsy and been told all clear. These were two very scary weeks. I clung to prayer, I clung to scripture and my faith. I was unable to focus on much else. Then I experienced the sweet relief of answered prayers. In I Thessalonians 5:16 -18 we are encouraged to “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus” (NIV). I was focused on trying to live this verse. I was so happy and thankful when I received the news, I even doubted if it could be totally true. We’ve all heard the saying “timing is everything”, and in this case it really was. This event had coincided with the Sweet Sisters study of the “Purpose Driven Life”. I became deep in thought, as so much was colliding at the same time, causing me to stop and reflect. Throughout the rest of the fall study, I realized how much Jesus had protected me and supported me throughout my entire life and through many difficult times. How much he had blessed me and I was overwhelmed with gratitude for his love and mercy and kindness. I wanted to do more – He deserved more than I had given up to this point. I wanted to be his light to those with whom I encounter in my day to day, family, friends, work, and socially. I wanted to be more faithful than I had been before. I had always been a prayer warrior, but I wanted to be more consistent with church, worship, reading my bible and setting an example for my friends and family. I wanted to emulate Love for others and to others. So…fast forward 2 1/2 years and 5 studies later with the Sweet Sisters and I have grown after each study. I’ve also make small and big changes in my life – trying to be a better listener, trying to make it never about me, trying to incorporate the salvation that only Christ can provide when opportunities arise. Realizing there is nothing perfect about me – I do get up every day with a desire to please him and share his love.
Having been a Christ follower since twelve, I often wonder why I didn’t try harder before – and I came to the conclusion that it was because I thought it would be too hard, I’d have to change too much, people might think I’m over the top – one of those religious freaks. My husband had even said to me during this time your becoming “odd for God”. But, what I’ve come to realize is that when we surrender His will to our will he changes us bit by bit. Once we start the walk of obedience, and we truly pray for his spirit to come alive in us every day – it happens, day by day. It’s just one word – “surrender” that’s the easy part, you follow and He guides. In Jeremiah 29:13, we are told “You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart” (NIV). This verse is so true, as we seek Him more we find more of Him. The holy scripture is the best place to find Him. It’s the best place to go when you need to make a U-turn. Do I sometimes have doubts? Plagued with second guessing or thinking I’m not good enough or worthy? Of course, but then I remember Isaiah 43:18-19: “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! now it springs up; do you not perceive it”?
He wants us to always be moving forward, learning from our past and asking him to guide our future. When we do this He does spring up in our heart and he flows out through all we do. What a relief to know He has all we need, we just have to trust Him more. Sometimes we trust even when we are not sure we can, and He comes through. Wherever you are today, he’s faithful and true and can provide all that you need to help you journey in the right direction. He loves you. John 15:13 (KJV) “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” Grab his hand and watch him change your direction.
Yesterday was my daughters “Heaven day”; the anniversary of when I held her 40 day old perfectly formed body and she breathed her last breath. God’s peace covered me that day. She had been born premature and a staph infection in a blood clot attached to her central line caused her heart to fail. Her body was purple and bloated and she had so many pricks, and my soul knew deep down that she would be “healed in heaven”. This peace continued to cover me, as a soft snow covers a barren tree, days later as we picked her tiny coffin and throughout her funeral.
And then after everyone went back home and on with their lives; my heart and faith began to fail. When I look back on this lowest time in my life, I remember a kind act from a stranger that at just the right time and in the right way gave me hope.
I call these inspired and spirit -led acts of kindnesses: KISSes From God.
Instead of a “Random Act of Kindness” or RAK, I prefer to call these “kisses from God.” I created this acronym recently and wanted to share this with you my sweet sister.
S- spired by the
S- Spirt (The Holy Spirit)
My daughter Megan Elizabeth lived such a short time on this earth and the anniversaries of her birth and death still can brings tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat.
But then I remember how the super kind act of a stranger (KISS) soothed my tired and wounded heart when I needed it the most.
A few months after the funeral, I bundled up my two year old and 3 and half year old daughters and went to the local Harford Mall. How lonely I felt as my husband and I were both so wounded and grieving in our own ways. He threw himself back into his job and spent most of his time working. My sensitive daughters both regressed and acted out sensing the rollarcoster of events and emotions. My oldest, who before Megan’s death had been potty trained, regressed and started to cling to me. They both sought my attention and bickered among themselves and I struggled to care for them as the grieving sapped so much of my energy. I remember standing at the sink one day yelling out to God, “why did you give her to me …. only to take her away?” Underneath the anger was a hurt little girl who felt that God had ignored her prayer
I went to buy ice creeam for my girls in the food court and the cashier explained that they were paid for. He explained “ That a man each day picks someone to buy ice cream for and this day he picked you and your little girls.”
Sisters…..I had money to buy ice cream. My need wasn’t money. But what I needed was to know that God saw me; I needed to know that He cared about me and my sore heart.
As cool, sweet, soothing ice- cream runs down and coats a sore throat, I felt God’s loving and healing touch cool my sore hurting heart.
This act of kindness opened the eyes of my heart. I gradually started to understand that God, who I thought was ignoring me, saw my sore heart. I was not alone I realized. God cared for me and would gently walk with me through my grief.
What did that masked man see in me? Did he see the hurting girl underneath? I’m sure I probably looked like a tired mom (he didn’t know about my grieving heart for the NICU baby) but God did and I am so glad that this man followed this nudge from God. Thank you sweet stranger from the bottom of my heart. My heart wells up with joy so much that I want to collaborate with God and give God KISSES every day just like you dear stranger did for me. Even now, (23 years later) the tears that flow when I remember this lowest time in my life, include tears of gratefulness.
I now realize the importance of doing kind acts in secret. For then the recipient does not have to use up energy on how to repay the person back. And the recipient can truly receive the gift from the hand of God; the one who is the giver of all gifts.
So Sweet sister. Let us keep our eyes open for someone who is struggling.
Let us give anonymously ( if we can) Let’s let God get the credit for our small act of kindness. Everything we have is from Him anyhow. I know that the ice cream cones mean more because of the mystery of who it was from and how he picked me on the day I needed it the most.
God is the one who knows who in our lives is struggling the most and He knows what will help them to realize God’s Love. Just as this wonderful man picked one person a day to give A KISS from God to, why don’t we ask God each morning to show us one person who may cross our paths this day? Also, let us pray for God to give us creativity as to how to bless them.
Our actions shouldn’t be a random scattering of seeds on hard soil but instead intentional seeds of kindness on the soft heart of someone who needs a “Kiss” from God.
So ask God each morning to give you fresh eyes to notice the person around you who needs some cool refreshment.
God’s agape love is one that is not self-seeking but instead spreads outward to help others. God’s love is kind, refreshes others and will be a sweet reminder that God sees their suffering.
What was that thrumming noise overhead? I looked upward and realized it was the pulsing, whirling sound of helicopter wings. A Coast Guard helicopter made a big circle as I waved one hand to signal that I was alive and the reason for the sirens ringing out over the island. However, this chop, chopping was not music to my ears. Awkward visions of having to climb aboard a hanging ladder filled my head and I continued my pleadings with God.
“Lord, I don’t need a helicopter,” I said out loud. “Just
send me a motorboat. I don’t need a helicopter.”
Shivering in the
pre-season Atlantic Ocean, I treaded water, trying to make headway back to the
shore. But the handlebars of this brand new elliptical paddle board having sunk
below the surface, along with the offshore breeze were just too much for me.
Numerous rescue vehicles awaited on the shore: an ambulance, police car, and even a fire truck. As the helicopter also continued to hover overhead, a crowd of people gathered on the shore, and I knew they were wondering the same thing I was – How did this middle-aged woman end up so far off shore alone in the early morning clutching a bright yellow board?
Just an hour earlier when we arrived at the seashore, the
ocean appeared unusually calm. My
husband was so excited for me to use the new toy he had given me as an early
birthday present: a paddleboard with handlebars for steering and bicycle pedals
for more control than the typical paddleboard.
Dave pushed the spanking new paddleboard, with me standing
proudly on top, out over the waves, and I happily used the pedals to move the
Mirage eclipse forward – straight out into the vast sea.
After pedaling straight out to sea for a couple of yards, I
squeezed on the right handle and expected the new hybrid paddleboard to follow
along to the right. Nothing happened. I had been told before heading out that I
would need to pedal fast for the steering to work, so I pumped my legs faster
as I squeezed the handle with all my strength. I wouldn’t find out until much
later, that the screw we tightened before I set off that day was actually
supposed to be loose. Our tightening it prior to my departure was the reason
behind this whole ordeal – a tight screw meant no steering.
My husband kept yelling, “Turn! Turn!” as I moved out
further from him, my daughter, and most concerningly – the shore.
“ I am! I am trying to turn! ” I shouted back.
At this point, I became more and more panicked as my adrenaline increased and my muscles tensed. I thought I must be doing something wrong and not peddling fast enough or squeezing hard enough, so I stayed on the board and pedaled on. I eventually ended up about one fourth of a mile out to sea.
Then somehow, maybe just by leaning my body, I turned enough
so that I became parallel with the shore.
I kept pedaling and squeezing the handlebar, trying with all
my might to turn more so I could ride back into shore. The current was going
out to sea and with a 15 mph offshore wind, it took all my effort to stay on
the board as I traveled parallel 10 beach blocks, while my husband and daughter
Mary ran alongside me on the shore.
My heart beat faster and my panic grew as I continued a
pattern I’d developed as a new driver. You see, as a teenager, if I became lost
while driving, I would drive faster instead of stopping and often made my
situation worse. Similarly, as I pedaled
along in the sea that day, instead of just stopping and regrouping and asking
God for help, I made the situation worse as my adrenaline and panic caused my
legs to pump faster.
I said loud prayers of desperation over and over as I squeezed the handlebar with all my might, “Help!” “Lord Jesus, Help me! Help Me!!”
The board still would not move to the right, and I continued
to move parallel to the shore. The lifeguards were not on duty yet, and I did
not spot any other small water crafts. “Lord Jesus, please Help me,” I begged
again and again.
I started to use my body more in one last desperate attempt
to move the paddleboard to the right, and splash! the waterboard and I capsized. Shocked by the
cold water, I quickly put my arms around the overturned board (I didn’t want to
lose my new present,) and started to kick to see if I could move myself forward
“Can they see me?” I thought. I prayed not just for myself
but that my husband and daughter would have peace and not worry about me. An
offshore wind pushed the top warm water out to sea leaving me in the frigid Atlantic
and my legs were becoming numb as I tried to kick and move forward. Were they
waiting for me to come to shore by myself? Oh, I hope they are getting help. At
this point, I was cold and exhausted from traveling a half mile along the shore
as my heart palpitations worked overtime.
And then I heard music to my ears. Sirens. The loud
emergency sirens echoed my cries for help and could be heard not just by me,
but by everyone living on the Seven Mile Island calling out to all the rescue volunteers.
I was hoping perhaps a motorboat would come to rescue me. I felt embarrassed
that everyone on the island now knew there was trouble and that someone would
have to come to help me. I waited and held on tight to my floating toy
and hoped that they would hurry.
And that is when I heard the helicopter wings overhead. And
I told the God of the Universe how He should rescue me.
“Lord, I don’t need
a helicopter” I said out loud. “Just send me a motorboat. I don’t need a
And then I heard a calm and authoritative voice in my mind
“I know what you need.”
My panic became peace and my breathing slowed as I waited to see what would happen next. I knew that I was going to be all right and I now just waited with trust to see how God planned to do it. I must have waited at least ten minutes as I clutched the board and faced the shore trying to spot my husband and daughter among the crowd of rescue vehicles and spectators who lined the water’s edge.
And then two
lifeguards came to my rescue aboard a jet ski.
The sun shone
behind their flowing hair and bounced off their kind, handsome faces and strong
shoulders. My relief and gratitude were immense. I keep telling them, “Thank
you so much,” as I gazed into their beautiful glowing faces.
The jet ski had a board
on the back with handle bars and they helped me to lie down stomach first as I
held on to the handles. By this time I was exhausted and shivering and I’m sure
the lifeguards could see my weariness.
“Lie down here,” one
told me, “and I will lie on top of you.”
strong warm body lay on top of me and I felt God’s strength, help, and love
through this unexpected gift of protection and deliverance.
We flew across the ocean waves on the back of the wave runner into shore and I giggled as my body would slip under his and the thought of how I was being rescued made me laugh with delight.
“Yes, this was much better than a motor boat.” I thought with a smile.
As we approached
the crowd of people lining the shore, I continued to giggle at the thought of
being sandwiched between a jet ski and a lifeguard. A warm blanket was placed
over my shoulders. The lifeguards lifted my board, and they (and the crowd), were
especially surprised to see the handlebars underneath.
I believe I felt the reality of God’s feathers of protection as I lay under the lifeguard’s strong body and I rode in giggling with joy. I am thankful that God knows just what we need – and sometimes that means two strong, beautiful angels who know how to drive a jet ski.
He will cover you with His feathers. He will shelter you with His wings. His fatithful promises are your armor and protection. Psalm 91:4
I am so tired of waiting. My prayers seem to no avail, as I wait on God to help a relationship that has grown hard and cold. I feel like curling up in a ball and giving up. What should I do?
Dear Sweet Sister:
My arm felt heavy as I continued to stir the mushroom risotto well past the 25 minutes promised in the recipe. I yearned to cook a rare homemade meal for my husband and my son who was visiting during Christmas break and I decided to try something new. Since I love to order mushroom risotto at restaurants, I decided to give it a try. The secret is to slowly add the boiling stock one ladle at time and to keep stirring and Stirring and stirring. The goal it that the Arborio rice when bitten will be “Al Dente”which means: soft on the outside and firm in the middle. (not too hard on the outside and not too soft either..think goldilocks and how she kept trying to find “just the right bowl, chair and bed”). Mushroom risotto requires the diligence of stirring while tasting and not leaving the stove until it is JUST RIGHT.
I almost gave up. I started to doubt myself. Maybe I didn’t follow the directions correctly I thought to myself. We had another new dish (chicken) that was now sitting on the counter getting cold. Maybe I should just give up and call it quits. I kept tasting the risotto and the rice was grainy and hard. Ten more minutes past the recipe range and I was still stirring.
And then my husband came downstairs to see how things were coming along. He took over the stirring. He kept adding water and stirring and tasting some more. Finally, after 10 more minutes of “long-suffering:)” the risotto was Al Dente. The rice felt so soft on the tongue that it seemed like creamy puffy pasta. Yet the final product was firm enough so that the rice was not mushy and each morsel distinct. The flavors of mushroom and chicken stock blended together perfectly. So delicious and so. worth. the. wait.
So how does this help me Amber with this friend who now won’t speak to me? or This spouse who will not forgive me and is giving me the cold shoulder and silent treatment? Oh and the long suffering of having a child who has such a hard heart and acts so angry at me after I have given so much?
Oh Dear Sister…..your loved ones heart is like the risotto rice kernel that still needs to be stirred. Keep Standing, add some liquid love of kindness, and patiently keep praying for them. I needed my husband to help me along so I didn’t give up. Find a sister to pray with you for your loved one. Stir together in prayer on the phone after sharing your aching heart. Be on guard that your own heart does not become hard but instead trust God’s recipe of Love. My challenge for you this year of 2019 is for you to read I Corinth. 13:4-8 every morning. Read it slow and mediate on this powerful recipe of how to change hardened hearts to perfect Al Dente ones. Ask God for help on how to better love your friends and family. Ask him for the perseverance to not give up and to keep stirring until the hard shell of your loved ones heart becomes soft. (toward you and most of all soft to God and His will)
Don’t leave the stove sister because your loved ones’ heart IS slowly softening. Keep stirring and ask a trusted sister to stir with you. We sisters need each other.
The first ingredient for Love is patience. The last secret ingredients are these: Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres,
What is your New Year’s resolution? and How can I stick to mine? I am stressed about picking the right goals and following through.
Dear Sweet Sister:
I understand your stress. I have spent the last few days in prayer and study as I attempted to make my yearly goals for my body, mind and spirit. I talked to my physical trainer who encouraged me to pick a physical and a nutritional goal. I studied my monthly planner who encouraged me pick a theme (word of the year) to set my priorities and to make goals for all of my relationships: Family, friends, business. The stress mounted as I thought about all the people in my life and how I wanted to help them all and yet with another year passing, I know how little time there is in every day to accomplish so much. So instead of an excitement over the new fresh year, soon I was feeling overwhelmed with all I felt I “should” accomplish. I see why some choose to just not make any resolutions or goals at all…..the fear of failure is crippling. But I for one know that people that set goals accomplish more that those who don’t and that writing them down and coming back to them increases the likelihood of them being realized. If a resolution is defined as “a firm decision to do or to not to do something” then our focus should not only be on what we plan to do in 2020 but also what we plan not to do.
So what should we do Sweet Sister?
First, what should our number one focus and priority be as Christians ?
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden of sin that clings (distracts us) to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12 : 1-2
Our goal to to run after Jesus keeping our eyes fixed on Him, to stay on the narrow path and to invite as many of our friends and family to come join the race.
So ask yourself these two questions?
What is weighing me down or distracting me from following closer to Jesus? Is a person, social media, a hobby, an addiction, T.V., clutter, love of sleep..?…..What do I do first when I wake up instead of spending a date with Jesus? What do I need to take away so I have more room to grow in my relationship with Jesus?
How can I be sure to stay close to Jesus in 2020? Do I need to go to bed earlier? wake up earlier? make a pact to not look at emails or Facebook until I have sat in quiet and became still before my Lord and Savior? To not exercise my body until I have exercised my soul? Maybe decide to read the good news before I read or watch the depressing news on T.V?
We are promised be bear good fruit, if we remain close to Jesus. So this needs to be our Top priority. He will guide us each morning as to all the other goals. We don’t know what the future will hold and what we will face, but if we meet with God and walk and talk with Him on a daily basis, we will know at the right time what we should do. When we have our “date time” then we can ask…How can I take better care of the body you gave me? How should I handle this business decision? How can I show Love to this person who really rubs me the wrong way?
Now this is really important Sister. Write down what you plan to get rid of and hand it over to Jesus. You need to make room for Jesus and so some housekeeping must occur in your heart. Don’t just think about it….write it down. now:)
Next, write down how you plan to improve or add your personal relationship with Jesus. Will you make a commitment to not look at Facebook or emails when you wake up until you chat with the one who loves you the most ? Or make a commitment to attend your church more ? and Join a small group bible study?
Just as an athlete makes sacrifices and trains with others that are like- minded, as Christians we need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and find like-minded sisters to keep us accountable and encourage us.
So Write down what you will remove from your life or only do after you spend time with Jesus……….and then write when and where you will meet him for your daily “Date”. I have a special place and chair and if I fail to allow for some good, sweet time to chat with Jesus and tell Him what’s on my heart, I imagine in my mind’s eye that He quietly waits until I do make time. Love is patient and He will not force His love but quietly waits for us to make room. I hope we look back on 2020 as the year that no matter what happened around us or to us that we kept our eyes fixed on Jesus and we persevered in running the race.
Death and Life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. Proverbs 18:21
Dear Sweet Sister:
I recently attended a tea party fit for a princess. Real china and crystal candelabras set the lavish table and soon scones, quiche and chocolate covered strawberries followed. My sweet sister shared her gift of hospitality with five friends by preparing ahead of time and considering every detail. She greeted us with warm enthusiastic hugs and as the tea “steeped” she asked questions of each guest so a new neighbor would feel welcome. Sweets were arranged on a separate table on a three tiered display next to her signature “peace sign”.
But ………..then the carefully prepared picture perfect scene turned sour.
For the conversation turned toward sharing negative things about our husbands. Lighthearted jokes soon snowballed into complaints and ungratefulness. Regrettably, I laughed along and joined the banter.
the gracious and wise hostess offered a suggestion that turned the tide of the rest of our elegant tea party.
“Why don’t we go around the table and state someone good about our husbands? I’ll start..
And then she shared a sweet routine they share when he returns from a business trip. (Her husband puts on a dinner jacket and they dance in the kitchen to celebrate)
Soon the energy flowed as each women shared a positive item. One sister and her spouse text each other the words of songs during the day. “That’s so sweet!…I love that idea”. And soon, because some of us knew each other well, we added additional positive things we knew about our friend’s husband and reminded each other of something we admire about their marriage.
The tide turned from a drip dripping of negative comments that wear away at relationships to a refreshing rain of positive compliments that resulted in new ideas and renewed appreciation.
In the book of proverbs the impact of a wife’s nagging and negative words is compared to an irritating leak…drip, drip, drip.
A nagging wife is like water going drip-drip -drip on a rainy day. Proverbs 27:15
In our Liz Curtis Higgs book study entitled, Bad Girls of the Bible, we learned in the story of Samson and Delilah the impact that words can make. She literally nagged him to “death” as he eventually gave his secret of his strength away and this resulted in not only his demise but the death of thousands of Philistines in the final scene. Before his physical death, her nagging and ultimate betrayed ended in the emotional death of their relationship.
Words can tear down and words can build up. When we bring up negative dirt on our husbands in public, we are rolling ourselves in the mud too as a husband and wife become one flesh when married. Have you heard the phrase about not airing your dirty laundry? What a appropriate comparison for who wants to look or smell dirty laundry?
I know the excuses for I’ve used them myself. “I’m just venting” or “My friends are my therapist”. But a therapist would not personally know your husband and pass on this information. Your friends probably will. In the least, their opinion of your spouse is being infected and healing takes longer the more you pick at a scab. Our role is to protect and nurture our relationships. Unfortunately, we often play the “victim” card and try to get others to feel sorry for ourselves or take our side concerning a differing of opinion.
What should you do the next time you are tempted to focus and discuss a negative quality or action of your spouse? When a friend calls you up and starts to air her own dirty laundry?
Take out some bleach and start scrubbing.
Overpower the negative with the strong bleach of kind words.
Take out a pen and start writing positive things about your own spouse. Then the next time the situation arises say them out loud. When a friend shares some of her own dirty laundry perhaps say to your friend…”I know Joe isn’t perfect but what is something good about him? I’ve always admired this about him or your relationship.” A true friend will support your marriage and help you out of the pit of self-pity.
Do some of these complaints need to be addressed? Maybe. But out of respect for your spouse, pray about it first, asking God for wisdom as to whether this is something to be overlooked or needs to be addressed. Then, if you decide to go to him about your concens, you can clean the laundry together. If you are one flesh, then it is both your responsibility to do the bleaching together rather than individually throwing out the dirty laundry into your front yard. Wouldn’t you rather your spouse come to you then to tell his buddies about your negative qualities or mistakes?
The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. Proverbs 14:1
Challenge: Sit down write now and write 10 positive things about your husband. Better yet, put it on his pillow tonight. Let him know that you see the good in him. Let the healing rain begin and soon you will benefit from the good fruit that will result.