God changes your marriage as He changes your heart…First Things First, Part 3

While it’s yet dark I throw back the covers, sit in silence for a few moments letting the new day sink in. Hush of pre-dawn hours and His ever-nearness enveloping me like a warm shawl on a cold morning. My mind stilled, my heart reaches heavenward. This time is just for me and Him.

And my Michael, he’s got his own personal meeting going on with the Lord.

Daily we choose to enter the secret place before entering our day and it sets the tone for the hours that follow, impacting decision-making, our willingness to obey, stress levels, and by extension, our marriage. So we guard our time with Him.

When you or I neglect our time with God we make it easier for the enemy to sneak past our boundaries, wrecking havoc and harm, crushing in ways small and big — sometimes severely damaging marriages, with families breaking and how the babies cry.

But we are smarter than that because we are Daddy’s devoted daughters and Father’s faithful sons, aren’t we?

We hear His voice — when we are listening. We learn from the Bible (especially the words and life and Christ) — when we read it. We grow closer to God through prayer — when we make the effort. Choices. And in these things, and as we practice other spiritual disciplines, we are victorious when the challenges of life and marriage overwhelm.

So how’s your love affair with God these days?

Do you know Him? Really? Or do you wear the mask and go through the motions? Something to seriously consider regardless of how life and marriage are currently faring.

And an absolute necessity if your marriage is a mess today — with gaping chasms of pain, fear, sin, hurt and loss from the uglies satan uses to destroy us — all the weaknesses we yield to, the wounds from childhood, the hardness of heart. Your union seems doomed and you’re thinking about throwing in the towel: I’m done, I’m calling a lawyer, or one of satan’s favorite lines: I’m not in love with him/her anymore.

You may think that packing your bags, divorcing your spouse, and moving on is all it will take to make your heart happy. Wrong! You will still be there. With all your own inner stuff that needs healing. Not to mention the terrible fall-out that follows divorce — emotional, physical and financial devastation. And your babies wailing even 20 years later.

For divorce doesn’t just split a couple apart it wrecks families, destroying the stability and security every child needs. Little boys and girls, and even bigger ones, want mommy and daddy together, loving each other for a lifetime. Role models for the next generation. Every successful marriage making society stronger. And if you’re thinking that a new marriage with someone else will magically be all better, please think again.

And don’t give up before turning to God who is the repairer of the breech, the salvation of our souls and the mender of marriages.

But it needs to begin with you, the plank in your eye. Focusing on your spouse’s faults is God’s business. Of course he or she needs to change too, but only God can do it. And I doubt He looks at our bad as much as we do. He sees us as He intends us to be. Made right as we become like His son.

The journey of discipleship begins with your choice — not just to believe in Jesus — but to be like Jesus. Moment by moment with every choice made in line with God’s will. And when both husband and wife commit to follow God like this, as true disciples, hearts and marriages change for the better.

Because God really loves you and me.

He thinks about us all. the. time. Knowing all the good and the bad and loving us still. And He always will. God’s no runner when things get down and dirty. He rolls up His sleeves, lifts us out of our slime, and kisses our sins away.

So what do you say we love Father back like never before?

Spending more real time with Him, not just showing up at small group. Knowing Him, not just knowing about Him. Believing Him like your life depends on it. Doing and saying what He does no matter how much your soul screams in opposition.

Discipleship, it’s not just getting saved, it’s coming and following each day, all the way.

And it’s hard when we first turn whole heartedly to God. Discipleship takes you to the edge of yourself and as you peer into your abyss beware the unpleasantness. Yet don’t hide from God or wallow in recrimination and guilt. If you are sorry, truly, then you are forgiven. And God is ready to move you forward. You don’t need to constantly replay mistakes. Choose not to think on them, just like God says He does. Forgetting.

Is right this minute the time to stop whatever your doing?

And open your heart. Bend your knee. Ask for help. Choose to cling. With baby steps preceding leaps of faith, you’ll learn Him and live Him and fall madly in love with Him.

Just like He desires.

A thousand times each day your choices transform your character. Over time right God-choices change your life and marriage, His promised abundance reaped in unimaginable ways.

And God never makes an empty promise…

Please come back for future posts in the First Things First series with practical helps for deepening discipleship and by extension improving your marriage. So you don’t miss out, subscribe now by clicking on the box.

First Things First series, Part 1

Part 2 — Annual Marriage Checkup

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Love that never fails…

IMG_7378

In a deep, dark wood

a wild rose blooms

unseen,

unfurling skyward

as petals fall

softly, softly

to a bed of needles

piercing.

Fragile in its fullness

fading it is

simply

made to be

what it is.

A rose

no matter the name

for its heartbeat

synchs and rises

with the sun.

And beauty rises

from ashes

blown by wind

as morning star

breathes life

again and again

with no end.

Until it becomes

what is yet unknown

though known

and seen as

ancient of days

summons

beauty forth.

Every rose dearly beloved

through the thorns,

Perfect

making imperfect

perfect in love

that never fails

though petals like teardrops

spill into the river flowing…

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Saturday’s Word…Your past does not dictate your heritage…Psalm 16

DAFFODILS

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    I have no good apart from you.”

As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
    in whom is all my delight.

The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
    their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
    or take their names on my lips.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
    you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
    in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
    my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
    or let your holy one see corruption.

You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

I like to peruse different translations because it adds depth and texture to the meaning of scripture. While I’ve shared the English Standard Version above, I was captivated by the New American Standard’s verse six:

Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

And I asked myself if mine — all that which I have acquired from my predecessors — is beautiful to me with its alcoholism, abuse of various kinds, adulteries, divorce and loss?

In and of themselves these things are ugly, horrifying, destructive. But when we take our broken past and surrender the rubble and the shards to the Artist a transformation occurs, a redesign of the awful into something lovely, worth being grateful for and passing on.

A new legacy scripted in love, awash in light.

Wherever we have come from, no matter the pain of our past or how un-pretty our choices have been, we can find assurance in God who makes all things not only possible, but new.

Jesus gifts us with a sparkling heritage once we open our heart to Him.

So take courage, and I will too, in knowing that all our sharp and tarnished pieces that we secret away in the attic of our mind, those awful things stuffed into dusty boxes marked Do Not Open, those nasty unspeakable memories that resurface as nightmares, negativity and negligent and destructive behaviors in marriage and relationships, can and must be revealed and released.

Into light bathed golden by love where our great Tekton crafts all of it into something resonant with newborn glory and freedom…

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An open letter from a mother-in-law’s heart…To my girl on her birthday

 KITTY

It’s your birthday, my dearest daughter-in-love —

 

We celebrate you today!

And the rare and precious treasure you are to each of us in this family. You are a poem being written day by day, line by line as you live and breathe and make your mark upon the world, beginning with your husband.

Sharing your heart for helping others and righting injustices. Offering a bold determination that perseveres, overcoming obstacles to success, yet with a heart as soft as a kitten’s furry tummy.

We are grateful to God that He has made you a part of all our lives, especially my son’s.

And did I know then?

In those days so long ago, those days of small,when he was very little and I held him close to my breast. In those days so faraway fleeting, when I knelt in the dark and prayed?

Prayed for you, a little girl somewhere out there in all the vastness of this hard, cold yet incredibly beautiful world. The one girl that God was growing into the perfect mate for my son? And him for you.

CUDDLE

Did I know then?

In those days now a mere memory. In those days that seemed as endless as summer and were just as short and sweet. How my heart would open wide one day. How my heart would reach its arms out to you. My first-born daughter-in-love. The girl I waited for through three sons. Woman grown and growing whose heart my son has captured.

Did I know then?

How my heart would need you because you are you even though you never shared my womb. How welcoming a daughter-in-law to the family circle would be as real as bringing home a pink bundle from the hospital. Excitement and wonder over God’s sweet gift of woman, wife, daughter?

Did I know then?

How desperately I would come to love you as my own? How tears would flood my eyes from a mother’s heart ever enlarging. How my own woman’s heart would long to share stories that only women can relate to. And hopes and dreams particular to the feminine heart. And maybe even someday to make that cheesecake from scratch with you?

You are a part of me and I am a part of you for as long as we both shall live.

God bless you today and may this day of your birth usher in a life that you can’t even dream of in this moment, yet is better than all the dreams from all the ages from all the times of eternity.

BDAY KIT

Every good and perfect gift is from above…
James 1:17

You are our gift and you are loved!

Happy Blessed Birthday, dear girl of mine…

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Why I’m opting out this New Year’s…Maybe you should too?

TREE

Baby New Year is four days old and I’m considering the annual traditions that I have in the past embraced:

 

  • Resolutions
  • One Words
  • 31 Day Series
  • Read through the Bible in a Year plans
  • New health regimen
  • Promises to self to make this the Best. Year. Yet!

An opting out of all of them.

No, I’m not throwing away my Bible, or deciding to stop moving my life forward in the best possible way, but I am ditching what I find to be encumbrances and routine contrivances.

Instead by God’s grace and with every breath I take may I be the change I would like to see in the world. That I just do it instead of talking or writing about it! That every step — every thought, word, and action of mine — moves me closer to my ultimate objective in life.

To live and love like Jesus Christ.

Simple. Real. True. And earth-shattering once finally achieved.

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Because the way I see it if I focus on this One then everything else falls in line. My utter abandonment and obedience to God is key to good living that fulfills the plans He has for me, makes Him smile, blesses those around me and gives me peace, hope and happiness.

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
John 14:15

Jesus’ succinct sentence is more loaded than we realize having read it year after year, yet perhaps not doing it?

Keeping my focus straightforward and simple alleviates the self-imposed stress I have in the past experienced as my resolutions fell far short by year’s end — or maybe at the end of January?

I grew discouraged over my lack of stick-to-it-tiveness, feeling defeated.

But by putting first things first everyday, as a way of life, by choosing to follow God more closely than I did yesterday or last year, the objectives that elude my best laid plans and resolutions come true. Believing, trusting and obeying God whole-heartedly brings blessings that last, making my life better one day at a time: stronger marriage, better relationships, balanced finances, increased peace, pure joy. And even improved health.

My heartfelt prayer for you, my very dear friend, is that you may be as healthy and prosperous in every way are you are in soul. I was delighted when the brothers arrived and spoke so highly of the sincerity of your life—obviously you are living in the truth. Nothing brings me greater joy nowadays than hearing that “my children” are living “in the truth”.
3 John 2, J.B. Phillips New Testament

BENCH

My soul is my will, my mind, my emotions. I can faithfully hike, do yoga daily and eat a Paleo diet, but if my soul is sick my life, and the lives of my loved ones, suffers. So I start by choosing to obey especially when. it. is. hard! Not just when everything is going well. And my mind is a major battlefield where obedience is first won or lost. My waking thoughts setting the tone of my day.

We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.
2 Corinthians 10:5 The Message

So may I choose thoughts carefully, rejecting all the fear-filled negative notions and reframing situations as much as possible in a more positive light.

From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise.
Philippians 4:8

And from here following all the other Commands of Christ. Each morning, as part of our couple devotions, my Michael reads us one of the page-long selections from this invaluable book in addition to scripture from our current reading of William Barclay’s Gospel of Mark. Both brother-authors encourage our obedience as they bring fresh insights to time-worn truths.

US

So whether it is January 4 or July 18 or December 31 we stay the course. Day in. Day out. In big and little matters no matter that we may stumble a time or two, or the news keeps me up all night, or the enemy employs lies that for a moment set me on edge.

There is One truth that never changes from January 1 to December 31 each and every year. Year after year after year…

Jesus Christ is always the same, yesterday, today and for ever. Do not be swept off your feet by various peculiar teachings. Spiritual stability depends on the grace of God, and not on rules of diet—which after all have not spiritually benefited those who have made a speciality of that kind of thing. God sent Jesus to show us Himself and forgives and takes away our sins making new life possible.
Hebrews 13:8, J. B. Phillips

One True North Light to the good life…

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