Wednesday, January 30, 2013

love keeps no record of wrongs


you knew that i couldn't write a series on marriage and not addess this "f" word.

love keeps no record of wrongs, right?

but in reality, we know, we remember, we feel all over again

every. single. painful. moment.

i remember so clearly a moment in our own pre-marriage counseling when our counselor advised us to write some "fighting" rules together.  she strongly cautioned us, "when in a fight, be careful of the words you say in the moment and never call names.  though you can apologize for the words that were said, you can never fully take them back... they just float around out there in the sound waves and our memories replay them over and over again."

i know this may come as a shocker to those of you not yet married, but in the full swings of puppy love and the perpetual highs of finding the right "one" but not yet in the covenant, that you will have to forgive your spouse.

you. will. have. to. forgive. your. spouse.


that means, i know there may be some of you who still may be shaking your heads in disbelief, that your spouse will do something wrong enough to be in need of forgiveness.

forgiveness for what was said... and for what wasn't said.  for what was done... and for what wasn't done.  and sometimes, it will be a really big thing that is in need of forgiveness.

no one has a perfect marriage.

no one.

i know that we all have perceptions of other people's relationships, of their lives really.  but when we assume that someone has that marriage that is just all fireworks and connection all of the time, we are playing that grass is greener on the other side of the fence game.

and i heard a great quote that i cannot forget -
the grass is greener where you water it.
image by myriah grubbs
water your grass with the water of forgiveness.

no one has a perfect marriage, but it is very possible to have a very good one.

whenever i am at a bridal shower and they pass around those little cute cards that you are supposed to write a few words of advice on to encourage the bride to be i always write the same thing -
love keeps no record of wrongs.
1 corinthians 13
it really is the number 1 piece of marriage advice i can give.  it is the one reason i still like my husband today - i choose every day to forgive and to remind myself to stop keeping a record of wrongs.  sometimes it may be a daily choice, other times a moment by moment choice. 

 when my mind wants to replay and relive the painful words or actions in the past, i must choose to forgive.

i have heard so many objections to this single topic - sheesh, i have come up with many objections in my own soul how i should hold onto offense over things done to me - but if we are followers of Jesus this is one thing that isn't negotiable in any relationship we find ourselves in, let alone marriage.

if you find this speaking straight to where you are at and your eyes are open to some unforgiveness or hurt feelings lurking in the shadows of your heart, let me encourage you to start right now in giving the hurt to God and extending mercy towards your spouse (or any other person who has wronged you). "i forgive you" aren't magic words that make the pain of it all just immediately vanish. forgiveness is a choice we have to walk out after we speak it out.

i heard this great illustration a while back from bob jones that i will never forget:
forgiveness is like a yo-yo. keep throwing it out there until the string breaks and it stops coming back. 

you see, we don't forgive the big things just one time. if you have pain or anxiety when you think of someone, it means there is still a deeper level of forgiveness that still needs to happen. extend mercy once again, like throwing out the yo-yo, until the memory or thought of the person doesn't cause pain in your heart any more. the pain can stop coming back. but it takes determination to forgive time and time and time again, and choose to let go of the right to demand things are made right.

sometimes things are made right. sometimes people show true remorse for their offense. sometimes they won't. we still forgive, simply because He forgave us.

at the end of the day we have to remember, if He forgave us all of our sin then why in the world would we choose to not forgive the sins done against us?  (He even mentioned that if we refuse to forgive, the Father will withhold forgiveness from us as well.  pretty sober thought, huh?)

now walking it out is hard at times, isn't it?  oh, but it is so worth it because "he who is forgiven much, loves much." (luke 7:47) our true forgiveness can draw forth love out of our spouse. forgiveness has the potential to not just mend the relationship, but cause it to flourish!

we have been forgiven so much at the cross.  let us love others the way He loves us - and let's start by forgiving our spouse. water your grass so it flourishes a deep shade of green.



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

the voice

we are continuing today our series on marriage. if you haven't read the past two weeks, i encourage you to start here at the beginning. this series has been in my heart to write for a couple years, so if it blesses and encourages you, even challenges you as it challenges me, please feel free to share it. now, let's sit down at my coffee table for a cup of coffee and have a real talk about marriage.

it's always in the middle of a heated exchange that the voice comes to me.  you know the one:   
don't give in and admit fault.  don't choose to be the one who backs down.  you know what will happen - he will take advantage of you and think he can always win.

and as silly as it sounds writing it all down and admitting to hearing voices that urge me to not lay down my rights, the tension in the moment is so thick it is almost suffocating.

it is like the devil and angel depicted on the shoulders of cartoon characters.  the Holy Spirit and the voice, call it a demon or my flesh (it doesn't matter which), battle for my response.

my father-in-law once told my husband when he was a teenager struggling with some sin issues that he better hope it was a demon bothering him.  he said, "son, if it is a demon, it is easy - we just cast it out.  now if it is your flesh... you will battle that thing the rest of your life."

i have a feeling this voice is more my flesh resisting walking out real love than a demon simply bothering me that has to leave when i tell it to in Jesus' name.

it feels so much like if i admit i am wrong, or even have any ounce of fault in a fight, it will be brought back as ammo against me in a future disagreement. it makes so much sense to my mind that if i don't defend myself and make sure he understands why i am in the right, he will somehow think he had no blame in the fight.  

 ...and then i will be walked all over.

yet, i cannot get away from what paul called love:
love is patient.
love is kind
and is not jealous;
love does not brag and is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly;
it does not seek its own,
is not provoked
does not take into account a wrong suffered,
does not rejoice in unrighteousness,
but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
love never fails...
1 cor. 13 nasb

the new king james version says it this way:
love suffers long and is kind...

the new living version says this: does not demand its own way. it is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged... love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

so, let's do a reality check for a second - 

  • i do not like to suffer for a short time, so definitely not suffering loooonnnggg much here...  and to be kind at the same time as the suffering.  ouch.
  • my son told me today that i could work on my impatience - no check mark on the patient part for me.
  • i often demand my way.  this can be verified by my whole family.
  • i get irritable without enough coffee, enough chocolate, enough food, water, sleep, health... okay, so i get irritated pretty easily it seems.
  • i hate to admit it, but in a fight i can often remember instantly when i have been wronged in the same way before (anyone with me on this?). 
  • i can be provoked.  it doesn't take long to learn my buttons.  and you push them, i push back.

i am no where near this thing called love.

the good news about this depressing news about myself is it isn't new news to Jesus!  He knows i struggle in every single one of these areas... that is why following Him is defined as laying down my life and embracing my cross - being mistreated.

yes, mistreated even in my marriage by the one i have allowed closest to me.

and he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.  he who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.  matthew 10:38-39
now for a long time i thought this meant literally dying for Jesus... but the thought that laying down my rights was the same as losing my life for His sake - so that He might be glorified in me - now that was life-changing to this little gal living in california.
then Jesus said to His disciples, "if anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.   for whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  for what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  matthew 16:25-26

what will it profit me if i win the argument, but lose my soul in the process?

and He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, "if anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.  mark 8:34

deny myself?  surely this is a mistranslation. 
and He was saying to them all, "if anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.  luke 9:23

daily?  you mean, this isn't just about being martyred in some eastern country?  this is about me and my daily home life where i get mistreated every. single. day?

remember, i am not all those great things that are listed in the love chapter.  neither are you.

but He is.

He is every single one of these things towards me, and that is why i can turn my heart towards my husband when i most want to build up a wall to protect myself - Jesus knows the very worst of me that i can hide cunningly from everyone else, and He still loves me in this radical way.

He really did bear His cross on my behalf when i mistreated Him - and it wasn't just about the literal gruesome death on the cross, but the stigma He would bear in my mind of being weak and not defending Himself when He had the chance.

He loved me fully and that is why i choose to not listen to the Voice in an argument... well, at least purpose my heart to tell it no, and choose to lay down my rights daily

in this messy thing called marriage.

Jesus wasn't concerned with how we might mistreat Him again when He chose to love us (and He alone knows how often i have mistreated and even despised Him in my heart) - so why should we hold this as a reason to not really love our spouses? 


Monday, January 21, 2013

God wants to wow you

please let me share this testimony with you of how God wowed me. may this testimony be a prophecy into your life.

it was monday evening, on the 7th of this month, that i was sitting on the couch thinking about the impossibilities that lay before us. on the thursday night before our oven completely died in the middle of baking a loaf of bread for dinner. our glass top on the stove was already broken a year ago to the tune of $200 to replace ourselves (with one burner completely out of commission), and as we looked into the problem with the oven we discovered the part to fix it was $170 by itself.

almost $400 to fix an oven ourselves - you can buy a new oven for that amount.

...and in a month that was going to be a miracle to get through financially without the extra burden.

we live as missionaries in california (in my hometown even) and january is often an extremely low month of support as people are coming off of the expensive holidays and heading into tax season. somehow january always holds more of the once a year expenses for our family than other months. somehow God always comes through, but it is never without adventure.

as i talked to my mom on the phone on saturday afternoon, less than 48hours after the oven broke, i heard myself say out loud how we would look back on this time someday and be amazed at how God came through for us once again.

looking back, it sounds like i had great faith. i don't think it was as much great faith as it was the past 4 years of living on missionary support to do what God has clearly set before us (in one of the most expensive places in the world to live), we have built a history of seeing God provide for us in spite of our weak faith.

we have 5 kids... 5 little boys who like to eat a lot of food! we live on a whole foods diet, which means i make 98% of the food that we eat and in the winter most of that is in our oven. i knew that we had no means to replace or fix our oven, but i knew that God would make sure our kids ate even if it meant i was about to get really creative in my meal planning.

so on monday night, january 7th at 9:50pm i typed on my one thousand gifts app on my phone:
God is about to wow us.

little did i know that at that very moment He was dropping His plan to wow us into the heart of a friend.

i found out later that at 10:20pm on the very same monday night a friend, not even a super close friend but a sister of a close friend who is a reader of this blog and who i have been getting to know better over facebook, heard of our need and had a God idea. she decided to set up a facebook event to secretly let a bunch of our friends and family know what had happened to our oven and ask them to join her in surprising us with the money to buy a new oven.  these are the words she wrote out on the facebook "event" to bless our family:
Bill & Charis are in need of a oven because theirs just died and it costs $400 to fix, so let's bless them with a brand new one!

They run the prayer watch house here in Redding,Ca and are on missionary support. They have 5 beautiful boys.

We want to keep it a surprise until we give them the money for them to pick out the oven.

The goal is $600 (most oven runs $400 plus taxes etc.) If we end up going over $600, they will have more option to pick a nice one or use the extra money toward anything that they need.

If you are in, I will setup a PayPal or you could write check (mail or meet up) and when we reach $600 or more I will have someone or maybe me hand the money to them.

If we can get 30 people or more to give $20.. Or $5,$10 $15 is fine...or pray for them will be a huge blessing.

If you know anyone that works in the appliance department that can give discount or give a great deal on a electric oven ...please let us know! :)

Thanks! Pass on the Blessings!!!

Remember this is a surprise!
reading these words bring tears to my eyes. oh, a huge surprise it ended up being!

in less than 24 hours they raised the $600... in less that 48 they had well over the amount and still had others who said they had money to get to us.

at this point over $1000 has been given to us as a direct result of this friend asking those who love us to help out.

i am shocked and awed by the mercy and goodness of God.

i will let you watch the video my sister-in-law took while she and my friend michele, who organized the whole gift, hand delivered an envelop of cash and a card listing so so many friends and family, with some anonymous givers thrown in there as well, who gave to our family in our time of need. it is a bit embarrassing to me, in the most God way, but i want to show you and share with you to encourage you in whatever you are going through.

God wants to wow you. He wants to show you His provision is not up to you in any way. His goodness is not up to you. He sends rain to the just and the unjust alike. it isn't up to you to muster up a big faith. a small faith in the One who is Faithful is enough. He wants to kiss you with His kindness just like He kissed me just 11 days ago.

in one of the hardest times of my life, in a time that i have been crying out for God to make Himself really really real to me, He used those around me to answer my cry - a cry that wasn't even about money or provision. my cry was to know Him.

in the time of my weak faith, He is faithful once again to make Himself known.

if He could do it for me, He can do it for you.

we ended up getting both an oven and a new dishwasher for $600 - the amount they originally set out to raise. God is so good. even when you don't see how it is going to work, His ways are beyond what we can see.

still counting gifts to 1000...

825 - 847:

825. the opportunity to bless others with what we have been given by Him.

826. stove popped corn in coconut oil, butter, real salt, and nutritional yeast.

827. the sweetness of a sleeping baby in my arms.  gets me every time.

828. the way giving thanks changes me.

829. letting go.

830. being crushed by the One who has my ultimate best in mind.

831. oat groats and backyard eggs - breakfast perfection.

832. mermaid colored nails.

833. soccer practices and soccer games and being a soccer mama.

834. tuesday bringing a box of new fresh yummy produce every week.

835. one day at a time.

836. God is good - all. the. time.

837. prophetic song - the Holy Spirit melting my hardened heart through the song of another believer.

838. 85% cacao dark chocolate.

839. new pair of toms.

840. gelato date with my oldest boy.

841. hearing his honest assessment of what he likes about me and what i need to work on.

842. staying up a bit late to try to write.

843. freshly mopped kitchen floor.

844. creative meals.

845. God is about to wow us.

846. and He did. and still does.

847. His faithfulness does not depend on the size of my faith.

i am linked up at a holy experience.

if you haven't liked this facebook page, you can in the upper right of this post.  you can also follow this blog or subscribe in a reader.  i would love to keep in better touch with you! 

please leave a link to your list of gifts in the comments and i will come visit your blog as well!  i love to give thanks together.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

i do every day

so often it is the simple way of serving that nourishes the heart on the deeper levels.

i watch him stand on the chair, fixing the slight curtain rod above the crib, only $10 at target, that the littles thought would be a good pull up bar.  i have been staring at the bent rod for several weeks, hoping at some point to get around to fixing it.

after a long day, i asked if he could take a look and he easily fixes it - easily deals with what has been bugging my mind for weeks.  working on these details of broken things in the house overwhelm me and make me feel small and ignorant.  his willingness to easily fix what would have taken me built up determination and drive draws forth love in a way that a dozen roses may have not stirred.

and my heart takes a deep exhale as one more thing is checked of the never-ending list of things to do that i know i will never catch up on. 

so often people enter marriage with a grandiose idea of what they can gain instead of what they can give away.

we vow for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad - though the newer trend of writing one's own vows may slight our perspective that there WILL be bad times in a long-lasting marriage - and yet somehow we think of these as big abstract promises instead of the little nitty gritty daily life details.

i will love you when you spent the last of the money for the month and didn't give me the receipts so we now have overdraft fees (and i won't even try to make you feel incredibly small over it).

i will love you when you woke up on the wrong side of the bed and spoke snappy at me and didn't even appreciate the coffee or scrambled eggs i made you (and i won't go off on you pointing out all that i do for you that you never notice).

i will love you when you are too sick to get out of bed and it means i have more work to do with taking care of kids, work, home life, and don't get the break and fellowship that i was looking forward to after a long day (and i will keep the kids quiet so you can sleep, get you a glass of water, pray for you to feel better, and am truly sympathetic instead of mulling in self-pity at my extra work load).

i will love you when every conversation we have ends in misunderstanding and it seems like i married a stranger instead of my best friend (and i won't try to escape and go slam the door in frustration and anger, but stay in the awkward moments of misunderstanding praying for courage to choose the low road instead of defending myself).

i will love you when it looks like simple service (and keep my mouth from complaining but serve with a happy heart as unto the Lord).

we make long-winded romantic sounding promises in the heat of our passion. when the passion fades and we are called to walk out those binding commitments, do we have the courage to say "i do" every day, sometimes every moment, and lay down our wants and desires to love with the unselfish love that we once thought would just easily come spilling out?

these small ways - which really are the big ways - of laying down our lives are what makes our spouse fall in love with us all over again. 

these little ways of denying ourselves - the fixing of a curtain rod - are what long-lasting marriages are made of.

marriage is not about what we can get, but what we can give. it isn't about how much love we keep, but how much we pour out.

greater love has no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friend.

He even laid it down for His enemy.

the invitation stands: do we want to learn to love like Him?

can we learn to say "i do" when we are no longer standing at the altar, but in the thick of real life?

what if it isn't two-sided? what if you are the only one attempting to lay down your life for your spouse and he/she isn't doing a thing (that you can see)? does the Lord's invitation to loving as He loves remain, or is it only for when love is returned?


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

joy in the journey - a new series on marriage

i have had it in my heart for some time now to write a series of posts on marriage.  i even considered joining in on the 31 day challenge that so many bloggers did this past october and focusing on 31 days of marriage.  with 5 kids and a crazy schedule in my "real" life, i realized this just wasn't possible.  it is possible, however, for me to write a shorter series on marriage.

so, to kick off this new series let me start with stating clearly that i believe that God always intends marriage to be for our benefit and for our good.  while the circumstances may or may not live up to our ideals of marriage, we can discover depths of joy beyond our expectations.  i am going to dive into different ways i believe you build the marriage that we all desire when we first say "i do."

i don't believe anyone enters marriage planning on either a miserable cohabitation or eventual divorce.  i do believe few couples are fully prepared for the hard work and heart refining nature of marriage.  i believe there are unrealistic expectations for the sacred union, and ideals placed on marriage that mirror more the world around us than the God of the bible.

in this series i hope to:
  • encourage those who are in a marriage covenant to invest in and strengthen their marriage.
  • give hope and clarity of vision to those who have a marriage that is struggling and give a few sound biblical tools to work towards a healthy happy marriage.
  • give a realistic, biblical expectation of marriage to those who are dating and not yet married, or who have yet to think about if they want to get married someday.
  • shed some clarity to everyone (married, single, or no longer married) on what marriage was supposed to show us about God's love towards us and His nature.
i hope you stick around for the ride and join in with your thoughts and questions in the comments below.  let's imagine we are sitting in my living room together over a cup of coffee or tea and encourage each other about the mystery of God called marriage.

while you are waiting for us to get started, how about you give one of my most popular posts from a couple years ago a read?

you do not have to get divorced - divorce is sometimes a taboo subject, even among fellow believers who have common struggles in marriage.  this post is for anyone in the middle of real struggle in marriage or wondering what God feels about marriage and commitment in the hard times.  it may be a different perspective than you have considered before.

posts in the series:

i do everyday our vows aren't made just at the altar in the heat of the moment. they are made again and again every single day.

the voice  you know the one you hear in the middle of an argument? oh, you know the one...

love keeps no record of wrongs  my number one piece of advice to any soon to be married couple - get ready to forgive.

6 tips for developing a life in God as a couple  the awkwardness of our own journey of learning how to seek the Lord together as a couple.

20 ways to love your spouse on valentines day or any other day

the secret to longevity want to know my parents' marriage advice after being married 40, almost 41 years? come and find out.

if you ever had a doubt about what God feels about marriage... or what He feels about you this one is definitely a must read for everyone - not only those who are married. it is about what marriage is supposed to show us about God.

my marriage advice does it matter what we are focused on about our spouse?


Friday, January 4, 2013

think of it as an opportunity

word for the day:  opportunity

what a friend we have in Jesus
all our sins and griefs to bear
what a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer

o what peace we often forfeit
o what needless pain we bear
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer

crisis is opportunity.  it is opportunity to meet the Lord.

i have been asking the Lord to make Himself really real to me for the past year.  my heart has felt hard and cold, not because i do not want to feel His tenderness and love.  i have cried out and asked that He would please let me feel His nearness and that He would fill all my lacking places with faith and trust that makes up for all the lack.

i do not want to forfeit the peace that He offers.

i do not want to bear pain needlessly.

and so the question remains before me:  will i come to Him and bring it all to Him in prayer?

i have purposed that i must do this.  i must experience Him this year like never before.

so i set a timer on my phone, to go off every 10 minutes, that no matter where i am or what i am doing i would turn my attention to Him and give Him the worship He is due.

to remind me to give Him the thanks He is due.

to remind me to come to Him in prayer - about everything.

be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  and the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.  philippians 4:6-8

if you want to join in, the instructions are below.

5 minute friday rules:
1. write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. link back here and invite others to join in.
3. please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them.

if you write a 5 minute friday, let me know -  i would love to visit your blog and read what comes spilling out when writing against the clock!  


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