“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?” Romans 8:25 New Living Translation
The other Sunday I found myself struggling through my work day. On the PA Turnpike the toll collectors work 3 out of 4 weekends every month. Weekends are the busy traffic times so everybody works. Somehow after 29 years I have not managed to accept working weekends. I still dislike it. It feels like the rest of the world is out to play and we toll collectors are helping them on their way. Wah. Wah. Wah. Realistically, I know every job has a few negatives and I must accept it.
Besides the work related wound licking, I’ve been fighting for weeks on a personal level with strung out emotions. I function everyday but my FLURISHING feelings are just not able to push through to the surface. I know they are there because nothing has changed in my life. I remain a child of the Most High and nothing negative has touched my life. I should be enjoying all the goodness He gives.
But instead, I seem to be tired all the time and lack desire and motivation. I cannot get a handle on it. I must push myself to do everything: push to get out of bed; push to pack my lunch for work; push to go to work; push to go to gym or workout at home; push to cook supper; push to write or read anything. The only easy thing lately is going to bed.
Some may accept this as their Modus Operandi but I do not want to live like this under a constant cloud of depression. I detest it. I want to be free to FLURISH again so I keep praying, trusting, believing that this dark cloud will lift by the grace of God. I know He’s been faithful in the past and I’m sure He has a lesson for me to learn while I slog through this difficult season.
So I continue collecting on the job this busy Sunday afternoon and a man in his forties pulls up and asks if I need something to brighten my day. Not wanting to sound as pathetic as I feel, I shrug my shoulders and smile. He reaches over and hands me a dozen beautiful red roses.
He saw hesitation on my face and explained that he had a blind date in the city. He bought flowers for her but she never showed up. He was disappointed but thought someone should get some joy out of the flowers.
I received the roses as a caring reminder from Jesus, through the hand of a stranger, that He loves me even when I feel weak and struggling. I took them home and my husband set them up in a vase where I can see and enjoy them daily.
Are you weak and struggling too? Be encouraged, His love for you remains! Look around for His reminders.
“No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:39 New Living Translation
DIBLASI’S sandwich shop. . . I’d been waiting for this night for months. My best friend and I ate cheesesteaks and french fries while planning our strategy for the evening. We walked back to her place after eating and changed into our outfits for the evening.
It was the night of our middle school dance. I chose snug fitting bell bottoms and platform shoes paired with an off white peasant top embroidered with multi colored threads around the edges of the neck and sleeves. I decided on an au naturalle look and let my long strawberry blonde hair flow freely across my shoulders and down my back. This was as good as I could possibly look. I felt confident. I did not want to be a wall flower. My mother told me “You got a mouth, learn how to use it.” So I determined to ask all the cute popular guys to dance in case no one asked me.
When we arrived at the school the outside portico buzzed with preteen energy. Making our way through the crowd and into the cafeteria, we found a good spot where we could see everything. Soon our group of friends rushed over and everyone talked about who they hoped would ask them to dance.
The first song began pulsating through the speaker system S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y NIGHT! Saturday Night by the Bay City Rollers got the party started. I watched as mostly girls flung themselves across the dance floor. A group of jocks across the room laughed as they talked among themselves totally caught up in each other. Most of them were on my mental dance list.
Then I saw the kid from my homeroom hangin around the entrance. He wore brown plastic glasses that were usually smudged and earth shoes. I tried to avoid his eyes. He talked to me a lot at lunchtime about tv shows we both liked and some of the bullies in our class. He was forever getting picked on by bigger guys. He always seemed to enjoy my sympathy.
First slow song began. “Mandy” by Barry Manilow, not a favorite but I decided not to waste any time. As I walked across the room toward the first guy on my list I could see the homeroom kid watching me. I ignored him and arrived at my destination. I asked the first guy to dance. He said ok and out we went. He hunched over me in that awkward way and I kept my eyes closed most of the time. When I opened them, I could see the homeroom kid continuing to watch.
The next song was “The Hustle”, you know, Do the Hustle! All my friends wanted to dance since we learned the steps in gym class earlier that year. So we went out as a group and all of sudden homeroom kid comes out to dance. He starts movin and groovin around the floor. He wasn’t John Travolta but he was pretty darn good. We were all looking at each other like “what the heck”? I was amazed. He just wove in and out between my friends and I. It was a blast.
Every slow dance I successfully got a different jock to dance with me. All the fast dances I was out with my friends and the kid from homeroom joined us. KC and the Sunshine band, the BeeGees and Elton John tunes carried us through the night. And then the last dance was announced.
It was a slow dance and I had one guy left on my list, the most popular guy in our class, tall dark and handsome. On my way over to ask him, I was intercepted by the homeroom kid.
He saked me to dance and my heart sank. I didn’t want to dance the last dance with the homeroom kid. But the haunting voice of Eric Carmen singing “All By Myself”struck my heart a crucial blow and I gave up my plan and said yes. My friends all danced with partners they dreamed of all year and shook their heads at me. But just like his fast dancing, the homeroom guy knew how to slow dance in a way those jocks had no clue about. The jocks were stiff and awkward, but he was fluid and confident. I sensed a genuine caring within him even at age 12.
When the song came to an end he grabbed my hand and pulled me toward the exit before the mass of middle schoolers exploded into departure mode behind us. We ran across the portico and stood against one of the pillars in a corner. He took off his glasses and gave me the biggest longest kiss sending me headlong into my first crush. All I kept thinking about was what my mother said ’cause This guy “had a mouth and he sure knew how to use it!”
It was an unforgettable lesson in not judging a book by its cover.
With God’s help I faced my fear of public speaking and successfully told this story at this months Story Slam in Lancaster city earlier tonight. It was a hoot!
After our lovely bike ride and photography session along the Banzai Pipeline I picked the next adventure. The shuttle skirted around the bay just a short mile and dropped us off in Waimea Valley. We walked into an amazingly lush 1,800 acre botanical sanctuary for rare birds and over 5,000 species of plants endemic to Hawaii.
I believe this was the most beautiful display of greenery I’ve seen in my life. Every angle was a fabulous photo op. So of course my photographer husband dove into photo taking frenzy mode. But unbeknownst to him, I had a goal which needed immediate attention to reach.
I wanted to hike to a waterfall at the edge of the garden. I dreamed of a romantic lunch in a scenic spot and swimming in a fresh pool with a waterfall. Now my dear husband knew I wanted to go to the waterfall but he had no idea that I had romanticized about it in my mind. So he meandered along the trail snapping photos of everything while I grew impatient and finally we broke into a spat. I told him I was headed to the waterfall and stomped away in a huff.
During my twenty minute hike at a fast clip, I muttered and complained to God out loud since no one else was around.
“Why doesn’t he understand how important this is to me? I went with him to his photo tours.”
In a still small voice I heard the Father speak in a gentle tone to my heart.
“Remember, Dwight has never been to Hawaii before. He’s overwhelmed by the beauty I created. Let him enjoy it his way. You come with Me. You were worried about having special alone time with Me, so this is your chance. This will be our adventure together at the waterfall.”
That was all I needed to hear. Immediately my heart shed the frustration toward Dwight and overflowed with excitement knowing I had heard from my heavenly Father and He wanted to go on this adventure with me. My pace quickened and I reached the waterfall in no time. My heart pumping with joy, the young attendant took notice and said;
“Nice to see someone so eager to get in the water. You know it’s really cold in there since this is our winter season.”
“I don’t care, I just hiked up here so I could swim in the waterfall pool. I’m hot and need to cool off,” I replied.
I crawled down over the slippery rocks abandoning any fear and dove into the 30 foot deep pool. The exhilaration was indescribable. I could feel the presence of my Lord with me as I bobbed around in the fresh cold water. I struggled to swim toward the waterfall even though I approached from the side rather than head on because of the tremendous pressure.
At one point my energy waned and discouragement made an attempt to overcome me. But the voice of my Lord spoke into my heart again saying, “Relax, I AM here and you have a life jacket on, just enjoy floating with Me awhile.” I followed His instruction and quit fighting the pull and allowed my body to glide across the invigorating waters. To say I had the time of my life is a gross understatement. When do you get to swim in a waterfall . . . with GOD??
In time He helped me get over to the side and find a ledge next to the waterfall where I got my photo taken by my sweet husband who made his way to the waterfall afterall. This remains the highlight for me of a very eventful trip.
How do you experience Jesus in every day life? How does He communicate with you? Each of us has the opportunity to be intimate and close to Him the more we focus on His reality and spend time in His word. He forms a deep bond in your soul if you let Him and each of us can have a totally individualized custom-made relationship with Him IF we choose it. Even on vacation!
“There is precious treasure and oil in the house of the wise [who prepare for the future], but a short-sighted and foolish man swallows it up and wastes it.” Proverbs 21:20 Amplified Bible
While vacationing on Oahu, Hawaii my husband Dwight and I had a great desire to travel from Honolulu to the North shore of the island. It was approximately a 45 minute drive so we booked a shuttle excursion because it cost less than a rental car.
In addition to the shuttle passage through pineapple plantations, our excursion included two activities in the North shore area. We were able to choose from a long list of inviting adventures.
The first thing we decided to do was some bicycling. We rode along the Banzai Pipeline where the rich and famous have homes on the beach some valued over $5,000,000. We parked our bikes in a grove of palm trees where we were just a few steps from the beach.
Filled with glorious joy, Dwight strode out to the shoreline like a giddy school boy, camera clutched in his eager hands. The subject? Surfers practicing on the big waves for the next days competition.
Twenty-five to 30 foot waves came crashing toward him over and over as his camera clicked and captured the daring surfers unafraid to challenge the powerful tide. A photographers feast for film, Dwight delighted in every click of his shutter. I stood a good distance away in the shade of the palms observing my husband’s joy. There’s something so warming to the soul to watch first hand as someone you love experiences what I call “unbridled glee”. His smile bigger, his gait faster and he’s relishing every moment. My heart soared for him.
I had to praise Jesus for this utter blessing to see Dwight so happy. The Lord provided our jobs and some overtime and the grace to save money to afford this fabulous trip. It was worth every moment of self denial over the 12 months we saved to see Dwight thoroughly enjoy himself at the North Shore and many other Hawaiian adventures I have yet to record.
I hope these entries will inspire you to FLURISH through travel and see some of what our loving Father has created for us!
After I spoke what you read at my Mother’s funeral service in Part I, my dear husband spoke. As I held the mike for him my eyes scanned ahead on his notes, which he barely used. Love and pride swelled in my mind and heart for this man and his caring words which so totally captured the essence of my Mother. The following is a written copy of what he said at her Celebration service.
“My memories of Romayne I’ll share focus mainly on her ‘words of wisdom’ that would sometimes suddenly appear out of nowhere. I like to call them ‘ROMAYNEISMS’.
Those of you who knew her and spent any amount of time with her know that she was rarely at a loss for words. Maybe not a lot of words at times but those snippets of profound truth impactful all the same. . . and impactful for different reasons.
There are three expressions or truths I heard from her often over the last few years. The first being, ‘That’s the way the mop flops’. On the surface this may sound a little superficial maybe even somewhat cavalier. I think though it speaks to Romayne’s acceptance of whatever life threw at her. As Karan just said, Romayne’s life wasn’t always easy or happy, but inspite of difficulty you have to keep moving on, keep living life. That is what I saw her do.
She became a mother at 17, then raised four children, lost two husbands, and a son. She also struggled with multiple health issues throughout the years and did it with little or no grumbling or complaining. In fact, I’m told she did not like complaining or hearing complaints. She accepted life as it came and persevered, because ‘THAT’S THE WAY THE MOP FLOPS’.
Another truth I heard from her and Karan often told me Romayne expressed was ‘They’ll get good again’. This can go hand in hand with the previous quote, but I think more so she meant it as she was going to live life on her terms. She was her own person. Again those of you who knew her would have to agree, if how she decided to live bothered some folks well. . . ‘they’ll get good again’. She was not going to allow others to affect the way she chose to live. She had her life to live and her decisions to make, as we all do, and if others are upset by that, well. . . ‘THEY’LL GET GOOD AGAIN.’
The final Romayneism is not so much a truth as just a comment she made regularly in the last few years as her physical body was failing her more and more. Simple things like sitting down or standing up and walking became increasingly difficult for her— not to mention trying to get her in and out of a car to take her places. Every movement was a painful battle.
She would often cry out ‘Oh Jesus! Oh Jesus!’ Sometimes I secretly thought depending on where we were, I hoped that people around us wouldn’t think she was swearing! Those of us that know her, know that could not be farther from the truth. Romayne simply knew where her strength to go on came from.
I would like to imagine for a moment a different circumstance:
Imagine with me, if you will, what Romayne was doing this past Monday at 11:46pm. . .
There she is. . . she can see Jesus. Maybe from a distance at first. As she moves closer to Him she begins to sense the awesome glory of where she is.
She’s moving toward Jesus and her steps become hesitant because she is so overwhelmed by the presence of our Savior. Jesus sees her hesitation as He is now standing before her.
He has the biggest, widest smile on His face and with His arms outstretched He says, ‘C’mon, come here my beautiful daughter. What took you so long? . . . I was waiting for you! Don’t be scared. Come here! Walk to Me! I gave you those new feet and those new legs, and knees and hips so you could come to Me!’
She looks down at herself and realizes she’s been given a new and perfect body, without defect. She looks up at Jesus’ smiling face and runs to His arms and one more time she cries out, ‘OH JESUS’!!”
I hope your heart is blessed by this even if you didn’t know my Mom. For someday Jesus will welcome each of us who knew Him!!
“The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God. Give her everything she deserves! Festoon her life with praises!” Proverbs 31:30 & 31 The Message Bible
What an interesting word to describe how an admirable woman of God is to be praised. “Festoon” means to adorn with ribbons, garlands and other decorations. Which basically gives the idea of hanging out her praises in public for all to see. What a wonderful word picture.
Have you ever been “festooned in praises” by someone you love?
Let’s wrap up this series with some last thoughts to help us garner more festooning from our husbands if no one else.
“A worthy wife is a crown for her husband, but a disgraceful woman is like a cancer in his bones.” Proverbs 12:4 New Living translation
Draped in beautiful character
The word “worthy” here implies strength of character. The traditional seven virtues of wonder forming strength of character are as follows:
Prudence- the quality of being wise and cautious in practical affairs.
Are we gaining wisdom by spending time in God’s Word?
Are we cautious and frugal with spending money for the household? Justice- the quality of being fair and reasonable.
Do we prayerfully consider all angles of a situation before making judgements? Do we aim to do what’s RIGHT (righteous) in every circumstance. Temperance- quality of moderation or self-restraint.
Do we deny ourselves pleasures for the sake of the family and being an example of healthy balance? Do we have our temper tamed? Courage- the ability to do something that frightens one.
Are we trusting God to help us overcome our insecurities? Are we moving forward inspite of fears? Faith- complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
Are we holding back any parts of ourselves from the living God?
Are we depending on Him moment by moment to walk this life with us in the power of the Holy Spirirt? Hope- a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
Are we positive in our words, thoughts and outlook, expecting His good in our lives? Love- an intense feeling of deep affection.
Are we pouring out our love on God by doing what He says and worshipping Him?
Are we pouring out our love and affection on our husband emotionally (in ways he understands) as well as physically?
Look over the list and see where you are strong and where you are weak. I need help and grace in several areas. Life is brimming with seasons of change but we need to strive for constancy in our marriages for them to FLURISH!
Now this is some impressive festooning! The Taj Mahal is public praise in enormity. One of the seven wonders of our modern world was built between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife— too bad she was no longer alive to enjoy it. May we receive praise while breath remains in our lungs! Start increasing your “worthiness” today!
Keep an eye out for a possible companion series on husbands written by my own husband.
“Perfection of character is this: to live each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, without apathy, without pretense.” Marcus Aurelius
“. . . but a disgraceful woman is like a cancer in his [her husbands] bones.” Proverbs 12:4b New Living Translation
In the last post we saw that we wives can be a crown for our husbands. That was from the positive first half of this proverb. Now we get to the ugly second part. I definitely do not want to choose this option! Bone cancer is the negative side of what a wife is capable of causing in the life of her husband.
A few years ago I loved watching a show called “What Not To Wear”. This show was very different than “The Good Wife” discussed in Part I. It was not a fictitious drama but a sad altho interesting reality show on how some people choose to dress. Friends or relatives nominated someone for the show who they considered to dress in poor taste. The two hosts would surprise this individual and offer to take them shopping for $5000 worth of new clothes if they agreed to trash their entire current wardrobe. That was the general gist of the show. I loved watching each episode because I learned to avoid my own fashion faux pas by watching the mistakes of the featured guest.
In the same way we can identify and avoid our own “Bad Wife” behavior from watching others and learning What Not to Do. There are the obvious bad behaviors of wives who flirt openly or have sex and cheat on their husbands in private. That is aggressive multiple myeloma in the bones for sure! It can quickly destroy a man.
But what about the not so obvious behaviors? Ever witness a wife berating her husband in public? Makes me shudder. It’s painful to see and so humiliating for the husband. What does she do in private, I wonder? Or have you ever heard a friend complain about her husband to a group of her girlfriends over lunch? And then there’s rolling the eyes or shooting looks of contempt toward your husband which can be deadly. These too are cancer causing behaviors altho less aggressive, the end result is the same. They destroy your husbands spirit and should be avoided at all costs.
Crown or Cancer? Those are the choices. Which will you choose?
To attempt to remain indifferent is compromise with mediocrity. There is no riding the fence here. Mediocrity is choosing the “Bad Wife” business as usual mindset.
Loving your spouse is one of the ways we love the Lord and you know how He feels about indifference. . . check out Revelation 3:15 Barnes’ commentary notes.
“Among those who made no profession He had reason to expect nothing but coldness; among those who made a profession He had a right to expect the glow of warm affection; but He found nothing but indifference. . . anything is better than this condition, where love is professed, but where it does not exist; where vows have been assumed which are not fulfilled.”
Why not mix Love and Faith together for a Good Wife life? Be encouraged. If you choose to be a crown rather than a cancer in your husbands life, God will honor your efforts. Nothing gets passed His notice. He will help you by His Spirit so your marriage can FLURISH no matter how long since you said I DO.
“Grudges are for those who insist that they are owed something; forgiveness, however, is for those who are substantial enough to move on.” Criss Jami, Salome’
“Grudges are for those who insist that they are owed something; forgiveness, however, is for those who are substantial enough to move on.” Criss Jami, Salome’
I never watched the CBS hit tv series “The Good Wife” even though it ran for seven seasons and I often considered checking into it. Julianna Margulies stars in this political drama about her decision to reenter the workforce after 13 years to provide for her children because her state attorney husband is jailed for corruption and sex scandal. Is he guilty? That’s what we all want to know?
Not sure if it’s a GOOD show to watch (only you can be the judge of that) but Margulies character supports her husband in some form or other throughout the shows run.
That being said, I want to be a Good Wife. Not like the one on the TV show but like God created me to be. To reach my potential that He set out for me to glorify His name. I want my husband to know and feel that he has that kind of “Good Wife”. In this post let’s look at the first half of an intriguing proverb:
“A worthy wife is a crown for her husband. . . .” Proverbs 12:4a New Living Translation
The word “Crown” to the Jews meant more than kingly power but also joy and gladness.
Solomon the writer of this proverb knew what a crown of joy should be. His mother gave him a crown of joy on his wedding day. (See Song Of Solomon 3:11). So he knew the blessing of receiving a crown from a woman.
I am striving to be a crown, a joy for my husband. Striving because it is a daily effort. A choice I make over and over. I’m endeavoring to discover what I can do that brings my husband gladness.
A key moment for us is when my husband walks through the door of our home after working all day. I look forward to this moment. I try to set the tone of peace and tranquility with low music, dimmed lights and the scent of supper cooking. That’s the easy part. The tough choices come when he drags in, growling under his breath not noticing the pleasant environment I’ve created just for him.
This is when I have to choose my attitude. Will I continue to care for him unconditionally by trying to understand his mood? By giving him space if he needs it? By not pushing my agenda for the evening? And by not whining about my own unmet needs? LORD help me! I can do it only by choosing His grace!
Being a crown for our husband also entails being helpers or a “help mete” according to scripture. Hebrew for Help Mete— Ezer Kenegdo, a difficult term to define. It means so much more than helper. A partner, a lifesaver comes close.
What does that look like? We can be a support second only to the Holy Spirit in our husband’s life if he’s a believer. We choose to be: A companion for him in loneliness. An enthusiastic cheerleader in his triumphs. A soft voice and a soothing touch in his struggles and wise words of encouragement in his defeats. A loving nurse in his physical weakness and an eager lover in his passion.
Which of these areas are hard for you to be supportive? God’s grace is available to help you improve. All you need to do is ask.
I have to choose to respond to my husbands needs and trust my own needs to be met by Jesus. It can be challenging and sometimes I fail at one or all those things but I am determined to be a crown so I keep working at it.
Are you choosing to be a Crown or something else?
Next time we’ll explore the brutal second half of Proverbs 12:4
Then He said to the woman, I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth. . . ” Genesis 3: 16a
The above passage is familiar to most of us. All too real to those who are mothers and have gone through the experience of nine months of pregnancy and then labor pain to bring a child into our world. But how often do we pay attention to the second half of that verse?
“. . . And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.”
How do you feel about control? Do you enjoy being in charge? Some personality types thrive on playing follow the leader as long as they are the leader. How does this play out in a marriage where the dominant personality is the wife?
Early in my marriage, I got frustrated often over “his” way of doing things as opposed to mine. After living on my own for many years, I had grown accustomed to wielding control over my affairs. His way was slower. He lacked a “sense of urgency”, I thought. His way caused him problems in the past. His way SEEMED inferior to mine. Can anyone relate?
Control is difficult to relinquish. It can be more painful than birthing a child for some of us. I can tell you it’s a process that requires diligent effort. Most of the time we women are too busy with all our domestic and maternal responsibilities to even think of giving up control. But the effort we make to give it up in the end will be worth it. It’s another “MUST JUST TRUST God’s truth” lesson.
My dear husband kept mentioning his personality type as a reason for his method of handling concerns. After hearing his explanation at least a hundred times, I began to listen. I let him show me the personality test he referred to and read up on his personality type as well as mine.
Are you familiar with the DISC Personality Model? It’s one of many systems for evaluating personality type and learning about human behavior. It’s the personality test my husband took before I met him. Below is a basic skeleton of the DISC model. Each of us can have a combination of these with one usually standing out as the strongest.
D = Dominant and Direct Behavior
I = Inspiring and Interactive Behavior
S = Supportive and Steady Beahavior
C = Cautious and Careful Behavior
After a bit of study on the DISC model, the light began to dawn and understanding crept into my mind. I could see my husband being a Type S on the DISC scale. He is Supportive and Steady. This formerly translated in my mind as “taking too long” to finish a task. Of course when he performed a task it was done right and it was done well as opposed to my quick and shoddy workmanship.
I’m a huge believer in learning to study your spouse because it will increase your understanding of him or her. Understanding can go a long way to aid you in getting along on a day to day basis.
“People with understanding control their anger, a hot temper shows great foolishness.” Proverbs 14:29 New Living translation
If you are single, taking a personality test will help you understand yourself more and will benefit your relationships.
For wives, understanding your husband can build your confidence in who he was created to be. It will help you to allow your husband to take charge, instead of hanging on to your natural bent to control. This is God’s design. He wants to mold a husband and wife together as a team but ultimately the husband has the final say. So learn to let go and trust God’s plan, His way works so much better than our own! Isaiah 55:9
“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” I Corinthians 11:3 Berean Study Bible
We must diligently guard and protect the love relationship with our spouse IF we happen to be married. After Christ, they are the number 2 priority. Don’t take them for granted, they may not always be there. Learn more to live better together!
Shine on. . .
There are lots of free personality tests online. Here is one example.
For a free personality test try: personalityperfect.com
“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord–who is the Spirit–makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image.” II Corinthians 3:18 New Living translation
Do we see, really see the glory of God? It’s here all around us if we look with eyes of faith. Study the planets, the animal kingdom or the workings of the human body. His glory covers every inch of anything we can see, feel and hear plus all the unseen as well. Look deeper. Ask Him to show you His glory. He will. Why wouldn’t we want to know this truly awesome God on an intimate level?! What in this life is more important?
Dating God regularly in various arenas of our world not only renews our mindset from lonely glumness to powerful praise and purpose, it also converts our character. Time with Him anywhere reshapes our character to reflect Him. We begin to become like Him in our hearts.
As this reworking process changes us on the inside, the results will show on the outside. We begin to express His character traits of kindness, faithfulness, love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness and self-control in our daily dealings with others. It is a lifelong dating process to become like the object of our affection, Jesus Christ, God’s only son. He is the exact representation of God on earth.
In 2010 psychologist Robert Zajonc and his team from the University of Michigan found truth in the old belief that married couples look alike. He found that close couples tend to mimic each other’s facial expressions, developing the same muscles and over time begin to look alike.
Do you recognize this couple? They met in 1922 and married in 1926. They worked together as a comedy team in vaudeville, radio, movies and tv for almost 40 years.
This is exactly what we want to do with God. We want to spend time with Him studying His ways and imitating Him. Working with Him, laughing with Him, and learning with Him moment by precious moment. In time, we will begin to look like Him.
Reflecting our great GOD in turn makes us quite attractive. If we display His attributes freely people will be drawn to us. Given enough time with Him to transform us, we will have more friends than we may be able to handle. Loneliness will be a thing of the past. God will fill our hearts. Those full hearts will attract others and voila, Lonely No More!
Consider Enoch in Genesis 5:23 and 24. “Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.” New Living translation
He dated God so intensely that one day God just took him away to heaven with Him. Enoch never experienced death. When you’re in dating mode you give every moment your best shot. You’re attentive and all in. Being aware of His presence is only the beginning. Enoch knew this. He chased after God and was not lonely.
“To walk with God, is to set God always before us, to act as always under His eye. It is constantly to care, in all things to please God, and in nothing to offend Him. It is to be followers of Him as dear children.” Matthew Henry concise commentary on Genesis 5:24
So do you want to remain a Lonely heart or Lonely No More? Try dating God and watch things change. Get started asap.
“Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters, they see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep.”
Psalm 104:23+24 New King James version
So here it is the beginning of summer on the east coast of America. Swarms of people will hit the beaches along the coastline in the next few months while the temperatures hover high. Some people dream of beach living all year long. Are you one of them? What do you look forward to when you get there?
Sitting under a bright umbrella with a new book? Strolling on warm squishy sand at sunset? Breathing the salt infused air swirling around your skin? Combing the beach at sunrise in search of the perfect shell? Riding the waves on a surf or boogie board? Building sand castles along the shoreline? Jumping through the crashing waves?
Do you have a favorite beach spot? Tell us where it is. Beaches have inspired endless paintings and songs. They seem to be a place that awaken love and deep thought. Perhaps that’s intentional?
There’s something mysterious and powerful about the rolling waves of the mighty bodies of water no matter where they are located. Endless spools of water rush toward us and then away. The moon and sun pull and push in a perpetual gravitational dance. Friction forever forcing corals and rock to yield pieces of themselves to another purpose, the sands on the beach.
What would the beach be without sand? Uncomfortable! I’ve been to beaches where the shoreline is stony and rocky. Stones hurt to walk across and hard and lumpy to sit upon unless you were prepared with a beach chair. Not a pleasant experience for this east coast girl who is used to sandy softness.
Love and deep thought on the sand? Next time you find yourself beckoned to the beach spend some time meditating. Focus on the awesome wonder of our Father who created the entire beach concept. Here’s a passage to ponder to get you started;
“How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!” Psalm 139:17 & 18 New Living translation
Lots of sand on the beach. Can we even fathom that His thoughts about us outnumber the sand? Mind boggling. His love for us runs so much deeper than any ocean He created.
“For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea.”
Psalm 104:25 New King James version
“. . . I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I Am.” John 8:38 New Living translation
“Who are you looking for?” He asked. “Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied.
“I AM HE,” Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed Him, was standing with them.) As Jesus said, “I AM HE,” they all drew back and fell to the ground!” John 18:4b-6 New Living translation
There’s an old song from the ’80s that stirs my heart about this incident.
Terry Talbot’s “I Am He” from the album Stories of Jesus album. You can listen to it on Youtube. Here’s the first verse:
In the final hours of darkness
In the garden there He prayed
Oh Father take this cup from Me
Is there any other way?
As His prayer was turned to pleading
His sweat was turned to blood
Oh Father come prepare Me now
Your will not Mine be done.
So the thousand came to take the One
And there He was betrayed
By the kiss that bound forever
The Lamb who would be slain
And when they asked which one is Jesus
He spoke these simple words
And a thousand soldiers fell before
The answer that changed the world. . .
I AM HE, He said.
It is I you seek
I’m the One you want
I AM HE.
You have found Me now
I AM the One
You have come for Me
I AM HE
March 2017 holds two milestone anniversaries for me personally. Ten years of marriage to Dwight and the first anniversary of this blog site. Both I consider wonders of grace provided exclusively by my heavenly Father. I am so grateful for His faithful love inspite of all my frailties and flaws.
This particular series “Lord of the Rings” is a declaration of His loving care and guidance. Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” New Living translation
I have experienced the glorious truth of these words and I pray you have as well. If not, keep giving more of yourself consistently to God. His promises do not fail. You can trust Him and His care for you.
Dwight wanted to get married barefoot on a beach and I said fine if I get to pick the beach. I didn’t want a lot of fuss over the ceremony and details. I knew I needed to focus more on preparing for a “marriage” rather than plan a “wedding”. So we chose an all inclusive resort on a beach that provided wedding ceremonies in the package price.
I knew that two people from two different backgrounds successfully learning to live and love out the rest of their days together would take mutual commitment and intentional effort. So we carved time out of our schedules for marriage prep work.
Dwight and I signed up for an all day seminar for engaged couples. It proved to be a fun experience learning just how much we didn’t know about each other. We attended premarital Christ centered counseling regularly as a couple and took personality and temperament tests. We learned to pray together. We asked God to help smooth off each of our rough edges to make us ready for a tighter fitting bond.
Closer to the wedding date we sought out a special therapist to begin family counseling with Cortney. All three of us needed assistance in the upcoming transition. Any tools concerning marriage preparation we tried. We were committed to giving this union the best foundation possible (Matthew 7:24) which definitely included worshipping together.
During working hours, however, I daydreamed constantly about less important things. I was obsessed with a certain suite at the resort we booked. It had two large rooms and a bath with a private plunge pool and patio connected to the bedroom. The suite sat high the on bluffs overlooking the Carribbean sea. The view was phenomenal.
Unfortunately, the cost was phenomenal as well. An extreme luxury that we couldn’t afford. There was no way I could justify starting our marriage out in debt. The suite had to remain only a dream. Dwight and I were splitting the cost of the wedding/honeymoon package and our big splurge was to stay for 14 days. So we booked a regular room in the main building with a balcony area attached. This would be where our marriage began.
Seven months after our engagement, we got on a plane and flew to St. Lucia. We were like two teenagers brimming with excitement and hormones. I knew now why we traveled in packs as singles. Just so much easier to behave ourselves.
Dwight and I were committed to doing things God’s way. The first challenge was the two day legal requirement being in St. Lucia together before we could be married. Funds at this point were tight. Perhaps we should spring for two separate rooms? We decided since our room had an attached balcony area that Dwight would sleep out there until we were married. I appreciated His willingness and it saved us a bundle. Maybe not the wisest decision but by the grace of God this arrangement worked for us.
During the two days prior we kept busy with our friends who were honeymooning at the resort and agreed to be witnesses to our wedding. We ventured to the local market area and bought souvenirs and explored the vast grounds of the resort. We set up some couples spa treatments and other excursions for later in the trip. We had meetings with the onsite wedding coordinator and told them our ideas for the ceremony. And then the big day arrived.
My dear friend Sue curled and styled my long hair in the bedroom of their beachfront bungalow. Hyperactive butterflies beat their wings inside my chest as I thought about what would transpire in the next few hours. Part of me remained steadfast knowing I had done my best to prepare for this day. But another part from my past cowered in the shadows attempting to overwhelm me with fear. I realized at this moment, as Sue gently added the sparkly barrett to my hair, that I was grateful we travelled so far to get married. Being here away from all that was familiar forced me to lean on Jesus for the unknown like never before. Marrying Dwight in a few moments would be just another step of faith with Jesus holding my hand.
The ceremony in the garden gazebo floated along with my steps to Karen Carpenter singing “We’ve Only Just Begun” and looking more like my mother than I wanted. Dwight looked incredibly sweet in the gauze shirt we picked out together and his favorite ripped jeans. The sun shone brilliantly through the purple and pink bougainvillea climbing the trestles of the gazebo. We read our heartfelt vows that were open, honest and realistic. Dwight sang “You’ll Always Be Beautiful in My Eyes” and when he got choked up, we finished the song together swaying with the tune and Joshua Kadison.
Then we travelled down to the beach for the second part of the ceremony. Dwight stopped on the steps to sweetly help remove my white sandals so we could walk barefoot together across the warm sand.
The ceremony on the beach exceeded all my expectations. I was living in my own fairy tale that had “only just begun”.
After the wedding we were asked to see the resort manager before heading out to a special celebration dinner. Turned out due to an error by the manager we were being upgraded for the duration of our stay. Where do you think we spent the next 12 glorious nights? You got it, the very suite I dreamed about! God is so good to His children. In my heart I felt it was God’s special blessing on our marriage. A divine wedding gift. I knew then He would take care of us the rest of our lives if we kept our marriage focussed on Him.
We just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary and our love and marriage have bloomed more colorful every year as we remain rooted in Christ. He continues to care for and provide for us through the good and bad that find their way into all our lives. Even the rough patches haven’t seemed too bad because of His amazing grace. May each of you also FLURISH because of His blessing in your lives and never stop seeking to know Him more!
“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 New Living translation
“. . . I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” Jeremiah 29:11 The Message
Now it was time for the rubber to meet the road. Could I successfully hold up my end in a healthy relationship? Doubts continually attacked my thinking, but I pressed on in faith. I accepted the ruby ring and began walking into a relationship with a man I hardly knew. In the beginning I found everything deliciously exciting.
Dwight and I planned many events together for Christian singles. Hikes, dinner theatre, pool parties, etc. Two of my favorite events were a Pajamarama Cereal Social where everyone brought their favorite breakfast foods. We wore pjs, while watching movies and eating cereal into the wee hours. Dwight decided to design a logo and made T-shirts for those who attended. He even ironed everyone’s logo on their shirts during the gathering. He had such a servant’s heart.
The other event I called a Decade party where everyone dressed up in clothes from a certain decade. Dwight chose the 60s and I chose the 90s. We played decade music trivia, staged our version of the Dating Game and attempted the game of Twister. The costumes were a hoot.
Dwight took me on many day trips in the months that followed. Sometimes with the singles group and sometimes alone. Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, Washington, D.C., South street in Philadelphia, Ocean City, N.J. were a few stops. I traveled more in those few months than in my last 20 years. He loved to drive and I loved seeing new places.
Every other weekend we had Cortney with us. Being a Tweenager at the time, her moods were anything but stable. We attempted to include her in our adventures, but she had a love/hate relationship with this new arrangement. She truly struggled giving up first place in her father’s life. Looking back, I wish I could have been more mature myself and assured her that I was not trying to take her father from her. Of course in reality, I did not want second place in Dwight’s heart. Unless it was to Jesus. So Cortney and I danced through power struggles for Dwight’s attention that first year. It became a season of growth for all three of us as we slowly merged toward becoming a family.
In September of 2006, I drove to Dwight’s place after work on a Sunday afternoon. When I arrived I noticed he seemed exceptionally giddy. Laughing about almost everything I said. I spotted a fresh gash in one of his fingers so I inquired. He downplayed it and chuckled to himself. Tempted to become suspicious, I told him I was hungry and he said “patience is a virtue”. That did not go over well. Frustration began to form. I told him I needed food asap. He invited me to get in the car.
We headed toward the next town but then began driving around in circles. My agitation increased. “Why aren’t we stopping to get some food,” I demanded.
“Wait. Wait.” Was the response.
Finally he pulled into WaWa and parked. “Just a minute,” He said as he jumped out of the car. I rolled my eyes in exasperation. I heard him bumping around in the trunk.
What is he doing back there, I wondered?
Momentarily he appeared at his open car door with a glowing white candle and a leather satchel. He carefully placed the glass ensconced candle in between our seats and opened the satchel revealing two champagne flutes and a bottle of sparkling grape juice. He pulled a wrapped package from the roof of the car and handed it to me grinning all the while.
I began opening the package to find a journal inside. I thought it was for me to use to write so I didn’t open it. Dwight prodded me to open it and perhaps I should let the photos tell the rest of this story. . .
The gash in Dwight’s finger occurred while he made this book earlier in the day. The ring inserted in the last page is the same one I wore for the murder mystery almost a year before. Dwight contacted the owner and made arrangements to purchase the one of a kind ring I loved.
The Lord not only provided this gorgeous ring to be available, He also provided Dwight with the money to buy the ring. HE is our loving provider and LORD of the Rings! So of course I accepted the ring!
“It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, He had His eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone.” Ephesians 1:11&12 The Message Bible
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During the next ten days I did some serious soul searching. I poured out my heart to God. I shared my fears, my joys and concerns. The trivial as well as the serious. I believed He cared about all of it. I wanted to move forward in HIS plan not stumble around mindlessly following my nose.
I kept hearing words repeated in my head from a christian leader during a singles conference I attended a few weeks prior. I spoke to him intentionally during a break about my desire to date only Christian bachelors. His response shocked me. “You will greatly narrow your pool of choices. Sometimes bachelors already in their forties are single for a reason.” Was I being foolish setting my standard for bachelor’s only? This particular man of God thought so. What do YOU think God, I wondered?
The following week Becky and I attended evening church like normal. The service was about to begin and the place packed with excited worshippers. Becky noticed Dwight and his daughter Cortney getting seats several rows behind us. She waved. I turned and smiled. The service began. I admit I had a hard time focussing on the message that night. I kept wondering if Dwight got my note? Did he understand it? Would he talk to me at all now? Lord, forgive my distracted mind.
After the service, Becky and I exited the main auditorium which spilled into a large gathering area next to a snack cafe’. The singles hung out here in packs before and after services like clockwork. I loved these informal group fellowship times.
Tonight, however, was a bit different because there was a full table already buzzing with energy before we arrived. Seven women gathered around a very tanned Dwight who was showing photos from his recent trip to California.
I pushed my way in and his eyes met mine. His lips curved into a smile but he said nothing. The women were peppering him with questions about desert nights in southern California. His photos showed beautiful sunsets and scenes of Palm Springs. I stretched to see each photo and our eyes kept meeting as if we were talking telepathically but neither of us spoke to each other. The women droned on but we were in a world of our own.
At that moment Cortney approached carrying two half helmets. One woman who I didn’t particularly care for exclaimed the obvious.
“You rode tonight?”
Dwight smiled and that opened up a can of motorcycle worms! The women wanted to know what type of bike he had and when he would take them for rides on it. Something inside me snapped to attention as I felt my blood begin to boil. I didn’t know what was happening but I knew I didn’t want any woman riding on his bike with him.
What was the matter with me? Why did I care? Was it because I did care? Because I somehow knew he was part of God’s plan for my life but had been denying it out of fear?
Dwight got up and took his helmet from Cortney and began telling everyone he had to get Cortney home. After all, it was January and when the sun set the cold would increase.
I had to act fast. I was not going to lose my chance to some motorcycle babe. I moved through the crowd to hug Dwight. He hugged me back and I whispered in his ear that I would call him when I got home. He grinned and he and Cortney made a hasty exit.
Immediately the group broke up and Becky and I left for home. I dropped her off, headed home anxious to make my call. I shed my heavy coat and dialed the number from our small group list assigned to Dwight.
The phone rang four times before it was answered and the voice on the line was not what I anticipated.