RUNNING FOR YOUR LIFE

Valerie's Voice

In light of yesterday’s shocking news of the death of Robin Williams and his battle with depression, I felt this could be shared again.

I used to run—and liked it.  When I was in high school, I was even on the track team and loved to do sprints and hurdles.  But somewhere between getting married, working full time, having children, being a minister’s wife with all of those duties and responsibilities, having the kids grow up and produce grandchildren, and so on and so forth, running became something I can’t stand to do.  Occassionally, when I get a renewed determination of “getting into shape”, or becoming healthier, I get this crazy idea that I should start running or jogging again.  Then I just sit around until that crazy idea just goes away!!!  Seriously, running takes discipline – and a lot of it!  No doubt, the end results are most likely…

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Published in: Uncategorized on August 12, 2014 at 1:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

RUNNING FOR YOUR LIFE

In light of yesterday’s shocking news of the death of Robin Williams and his battle with depression, I felt this could be shared again.

I used to run—and liked it.  When I was in high school, I was even on the track team and loved to do sprints and hurdles.  But somewhere between getting married, working full time, having children, being a minister’s wife with all of those duties and responsibilities, having the kids grow up and produce grandchildren, and so on and so forth, running became something I can’t stand to do.  Occassionally, when I get a renewed determination of “getting into shape”, or becoming healthier, I get this crazy idea that I should start running or jogging again.  Then I just sit around until that crazy idea just goes away!!!  Seriously, running takes discipline – and a lot of it!  No doubt, the end results are most likely well worth the sacrifice, but still, that’s a lot of work.  My mind says I’m up to it, but my body says something totally different!  Well, as a Christian, we do another type of running, and that running takes discipline also!  And just like jogging down a track, this type of running has a great reward also!  I’m talking about running your spiritual race, the one that Paul talked about.  And just like trying to get back into shape, running that spiritual race can be tiring, painful, exhausting and very draining.  But the end results are so much worth running the race.  The final victory makes all the pain worthwhile.  What’s great about running this race, is that you are not a spectator—you are a participator.  You have something to say about how you are going to do spiritually.  Make no mistake about it, people fall away from their faith and quit the spiritual race only because they choose to do so.  It’s up to you.

You may be wondering, What is the secret to spiritual longevity?  What steps can I take to assure I will make it across the finish line?  How can I know I will hear the Lord say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant”?  We should all be asking these questions because one day every one of us will complete this race we are running. And each of us will either be a winner or a loser.  One day, all are going to die.  The statistics on that fact are quite staggering actually, one out of every one person will die!!!  So, when your time comes, what would you like written on your tombstone?  What could they possibly remember about you and how you lived your life?  What statement could be made to sum up your life?  When we finish this race of life, we will stand at the judgement seat of Jesus Christ.  There we will receive our rewards, if we have run well.  Some of us have acquired the great awards this world has to offer over the years.  Perhaps you have excelled in sports, and your shelfs are lined with trophies and ribbons.  But in heaven there will be rewards for those who have been faithful to God over the years.  The Lord doesn’t overlook even the smallest and most insignificant gesture on behalf of His kingdom.  Jesus said that our service to God, though not seen by people, is seen by God.  “Your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly” Matt 6:4   The Bible also says, “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10)  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.  It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.  If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.  If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.  (1 Cor. 3:11-15)   According to this passage and others, the promises of God guarantee our presence in the kingdom, but the quality of service we render here and now, will determine what position we will have in the kingdom.  Salvation is a gift through faith in Jesus Christ.  Honor is a reward for service to Jesus Christ.  When Paul wrote of “wood, hay or straw”, he was basically speaking not of gross sin as much as putting more importance onto the passing things of this world than on the things of God.  It might be a career, some sport or hobby, endless hours in front of the TV, and so on.  On that final day, God will want to know what you did with your gifts, (talents and abilities) and your time.  He will want ot know what you did with the sacred charge of spreading the gospel, which He entrusted to you.  I can’t tell you how important this is.

My husband has the opportunity to speak at many funerals.  And he does a very good job at it, even when he may not be well acquainted with the person who has just passed.  During times like those, he sits down with the family members to talk about memories and the impact that person had on others.  He doesn’t usually focus on whether they were a successful business person, or how many bank accounts they had, or how many cars they owned.  The things that mean the most are how loving they were, and whether they were an individual of unmovable faith, or were they a good friend and good listener.  You see, “things” and status don’t really mean much when the breath of life is gone.  What is so sad is that many of us, even knowing that life is short, wait so long to begin living it!  It could be said of so many today – they have everything they should to supposedly be “happy” – they have a good job, a family, a beautiful home—–but it lacks “life”!  Most of us could well say somewhere down the road of life, “If I had known what I know now, I would have lived differently.  I would have done things differently in order to have a better life.”  Remember, some die earlier than expected.  Somehow we think we are all going to make it into our eighties or nineties.  We may, we may not.  Some of us may have shorter courses to run.  That makes every minute count—-for all of us.  Time is passing by, and we don’t want to squander this precious thing God has given us called life.  And we don’t want anything less than a spectacular finish!  I’m sure that for you, as for me, life both physical and spiritual, has been filled with surprises.  Some people I thought were going to do great things for God started out tremendously but then veered off course.  They have actually fallen away.  Some people I thought would never even make it as Christians are not only making it but also serving the Lord gloriously and with great effectiveness.  We can take the mystery out of running and finishing well.  We can be one of those that make it across the finish line with flying colors.

So, are you ready for a nice run with an award winning finish?  I am!!!

Published in: on January 22, 2010 at 9:49 pm  Comments (1)  

How’s Your Marriage Going?

“I thought everything was going along just fine!  I didn’t even know anything was wrong.”

A friend of mine actually said those words to me—just  before she and her husband separated and eventually divorced.  And she was not the only woman who has ever talked to me, in a state of bewilderment because she didn’t know her marriage had been in trouble—until it was too late!  How is it that as married christian couples, we can allow our relationships with our spouses to be sacrificed?  I use the term “sacrificed” not meaning something that we willingly give up as a statement of our commitment and dedication, but rather as something that is slaughtered and killed.  We can become so busy and so involved in our day to day lives, that our marriages and our personal relationship with our spouse, somehow floats down to the bottom of the list.  We don’t even realize it has happened.  I’m sure we all realize that our marriages are important, but there are literal steps we need to take to preserve the precious gift that God has given us. 

Communicate – And I don’t mean just talk.  Something that my husband always does for me is that he occassionally will ask me if there is anything he can do or change that will help meet my needs.  He truly is very sincere in asking this and I appreciate his sincerity.  This opens the door for discussion and if there were ever anything between us, whether it is in the area of sexual needs, emotional needs or physical needs, it would create the perfect opportunity to discuss it. 

Work on your Relationship – Nothing in life comes about by accident.  If you want a great marriage, then you will have to work toward it.  Rodney and I have a good relationship.  The only reason I don’t say we have a great relationship is because I feel like you should constantly be working toward the “great”.  If you ever feel like you have arrived at the “great place”, you might have the tendancy to quit working on it.  Please don’t do that.  Put as much energy and hard work into your marriage as you do your job, your house, your children, your hobbies, your education, and anything else that is important to you.  Your marriage actually needs the most attention, because God has brought you together to be “one”, and that is not an easy task.  It takes much prayer, commitment and hard work.  Love is the catalyst, but we, individually, must constantly be striving toward that special goal of unity.  No one is perfect, so there will always be room for improvement. 

Perfect Sexual Intimacy – This is extremely important.  Even if you might happen to be a person who doesn’t need a lot of touching, caressing, whispering, and sensual talk, your spouse may need all of those things.  Do you know them well enough and love them enough to give of yourself, even if it might be more than you yourself need?  There is nothing more special than knowing everything about your spouse’s body, knowing what will boost their moral, what will show them how much you really care about them.  Even as I sit here and write this post, my wonderful husband just walked in from the store with a little gift for me.  It didn’t cost a lot, but it was perfect and it showed me how much he cares and thinks about me.  Do you show your spouse how much you care about them?  It really only takes little acts of thoughtfulness.  It’s not always about the big things.  A kiss, a post it note, a small gift, picking up the slack when they’re ill, an email, a card, a touch, a nibble, a giving of yourself—these will all help bring about intimacy.

If you’re not sure where your marriage stands, or if after reading this, you just want to make sure—just sit down with your spouse and ask them.  If you really want to know–just ask!

Published in: on October 21, 2008 at 12:38 am  Comments (2)  

Just for those in ministry or married to spouse in the ministry. . .

I just want to know if there’s anyone else out there who has experienced anything similar to me.  It seems that every so often, someone in our ministry, maybe a parishioner, friend, fellow minister, or someone else, seems to feel that they have arrived at a level where they have not only the perfect freedom and liberty, but also the perfect right– to tell me or my husband off!  And I mean, they let it fly!  How is it that individuals who are far beneath their spiritual leaders in levels of maturity, understanding, knowledge, leadership skills, experience, education, and even just good common sense, feel they have the right to make accusations, voice their opinions in public ways, be loud and rude and lose all respect for those that have spent countless hours of counseling, listening, teaching, training and countless more hours of prayer for their souls and well being? (Sorry that was so long, but I’m a little peeved and I took a deep breath!)   Where have Christians arrived today, to feel absolutely justified in having no respect for someone God has anointed and placed over them?  I can’t imagine how the church, generally speaking, has gotten to this place of irreverence.  Had this only happened once or twice, I would just consider the source and go on.  But it seems to be prevalent with other co-laborers also.  I just want to know if you’ve ever been there and how did you handle it and if so, how does it make you feel?

Published in: Uncategorized on September 16, 2008 at 3:13 am  Comments (7)  

It’s not always about the big things. . . . .

Well, that special day for my special man has come and gone.  It turned out wonderful and so many people participated in different ways.  I just want to thank everyone who sent an email or card.  The scrapbook we put together turned out awesome!  I realized in putting this event together, that my husband is a very special man with a very special calling and ministry.  He does it like no other man does!  And I think that’s a good thing.  This day of appreciation meant a lot to him, and myself also, but I’ll say it again—it’s not always about the big things (events)!  I have always said this, and it has even gotten me in trouble a few times.  I believe we truly show how much we care about someone, not just on the birthdays, the anniversaries, or other milestone markers, but we really prove it day by day.  I believe I am married to one of the sweetest, most loving and caring men on the face of the earth.  Ask me if I’ve always felt like that!!!  NO!  Just like every other married couple, we went through our hard times.  We had our fights (and I really means fights!).  I had my doubts and so did he.  But somewhere along the line, we decided that we were in this for keeps and decided to do whatever it took to make it work.  Today, we reap the benefits of that good choice and all the years of planting and watering our relationship.  I believe my husband treats me like a queen, but I also know that he does that because I treat him like a king – and vice versa – I treat him like a king because he treats me like queen!  This becomes such a natural act of love, that it comes to a point where it doesn’t matter who goes first.  It’s not forced anymore – it actually comes from the heart.  Are we perfect?  Absolutely not.  I still have a tendency to want things to go my way.  He still has that tendency to think he should be in control of everything.  But, we work on it.  This is how it becomes a day to day expression of our love for each other.  You give a little here, you give a little there, you get a little here and you get a little there!  One of the biggest dangers to a very loving and nurturing relationship between husband and wife is selfishness.  When all you focus on is what YOU want and how YOU want it to go, and what YOU think is right, then there will only be problems.  One time my husband and I were talking and he made a statement that kind of threw me off for a minute, but over the years, I’ve realized it’s absolutely true.  In a marriage, you should always consider yourself lucky to have your partner.  When you start thinking they are lucky for having you—-then you’re in trouble.  Now, like I said, that tends to throw you off when you first read or hear that statement, because let’s face it, we all think fairly highly of ourselves, even if we say we don’t!  But the truth of that statement is that as long as we feel lucky to have the person we share our lives with every day, then we will probably treat them with respect and care for them and not always be thinking about how something can benefit ourselves.  I’ve dealt a lot over the years of ministry with individuals who operate in very manipulating spirits.  This wreaks havoc in a marriage and quite honestly any other relationship also.  According to scripture, honesty is not just the best policy, it’s the only policy.  And you know there have been times when I’ve caught myself planning out a situation so that I could say the right words or do the right thing to make it work out the way I wanted.  Now, I don’t think I am a manipulative person, but at that particular point in time, I was manipulating.  Husbands are not given to us as a gift to manipulate, God blesses us with the man in our life to love him, to respect him, to make sure that everyone else respects him and to look to him for your comfort, support, provision and guidance.  Believe it or not, they can teach us a few things—and on the same hand, we can teach them a few things too.  All in all, I guess what I wanted to say today was that we had a wonderful day of appreciation for my husband Rodney, but first and foremost, I want him to know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I love him and care about him EVERY day!  And I want him to know that I consciously think about him every day, I consciously think of ways to affirm him, I make an effort to please him, I think of ways to help him.  And I know that I am safe to love him in these ways, because he will do the same for me.  I pray that you are in a relationship that you feel safe to live and love like this.  If not, consider making those changes and see if some changes might come your way.  Through prayer and concerted effort, except in the case of abuse, I believe all things can be blessed by the hand of God.  Let me know what you think about this and share the things you have learned along the narrow road of your marriage.  God bless you and keep you!

Published in: on August 5, 2008 at 2:54 pm  Comments (1)  

A Special Day for a Special Man

I am married to one of the most thoughtful, kind, generous, long-suffering and loving men on this earth.  He has been a pastor for 23 years and I have watched him grow and grow and grow.  During his ministry he has given without expecting to receive.  He has sacrificed numerous times, simply to see the doors of ministry stay open.  He has loved and turned the other cheek, only to be laughed at.  He has trained and equipped others to see them use that knowledge in competition against him.  I have watched him endure false accusations, lies, and jealous attacks, only to never hear the words–“I’m sorry”.  I have often asked him, “How can you do that?  How can you forgive and forget like that?  How can you go on and not curse that person?”  I don’t claim to be the holiest of people—only human.  And even today, my wonderful husband continues to amaze me with his sensitivity, concern for others, and tenacity for the things of God.  His motives have always been pure and his desires only those of the utmost integrity.  I can’t help but love this man with all of my heart and for that reason, I wish to give him the best Pastors Appreciation Day he’s ever had.  You see, he has been my Pastor for 23 years, and I want him to feel very appreciated and loved—at least on this day.  I love him every day, but sometimes because of the cares of life, I get busy and forget to stop and say “I love you babe!”  I would like for those of you who know my wonderful husband, as your Pastor or friend, to help me show him how he has affected your life.  If your life has ever been touched by him in some way, shape or fashion, then join with me on this day to let him know exactly how much he means to you.  July 13th, has been set aside as Pastor Appreciation Day at Eagles Nest Fellowship to show our awesome pastor, my one and only true love, that he is the best and we love him very, very much.  If you want to email him, feel free to send your thanks to drmullins@eaglesnestfellowship.com.  Or you can post here on my blog, and I will make sure he gets the ‘thanks’.  Help me celebrate “The Fruits of His Ministry”.  If you have any ideas or thoughts, please send them my way.  Thanks.

Published in: on May 28, 2008 at 12:51 am  Comments (1)  

Deliberate Acts of Kindness

If you simply read the newspaper and watch the news, you, like me, are probably convinced that this world is not a safe place and people are evil.  According to what we hear, it seems most people don’t care about others and kindness hardly exists any more.  Look at a few of these headliners:

  • Luggage explodes in bus, killing 26
  • Date-rape drug case results in guilty plea.
  • Three teens killed in drive-by shooting.
  • 2 year old toddler abducted by estranged father

Whether you believe people are basically good or basically evil, you have to agree with one thing:  God did not intend our world to be the way it is.  Titus 2:4-5; Then (the older women) can train the younger women. . .  to be kind.

The apostle Paul encouraged women to learn kindness – but many factors hinder kindness in our society.  I believe the top 4 reasons to be violence, selfishness, busyness and our own hearts. 

My husband and I were on vacation last week and upon returning to work Monday, I learned of a very sad, but somehow inspiring story.  Two doors down from my place of employment, a crossing guard was crossing an elementary age boy when she saw a dump truck coming toward them.  In a moment of total un-selfishness, she placed herself between him and the oncoming truck, seeking to protect him from harm.  I would totally understand this if it had been his mother, or even his sister.  But this woman probably didn’t even know his name.  Unfortunately, because of this unselfish act, she paid the ultimate price—her own life.  There is not a greater sacrifice–that a man lay down his life for someone else.  This story tells me that there are still a few individuals in this world who think of others before themselves.  As Christians, isn’t this what we are supposed to do? 

Violence is all around us today, not just in the seedy parts of town anymore.  We live in a culture of violence and are bombarded by cruel and agressive attitudes and actions in our music, video games, movies, on the internet, and on television.  Have we become desensitized?  In 1998, the average American consumed 11.8 hours of media daily.  By the age of eighteen, the average American child sees 200,000 violent acts on television; 16,000 of them are murders!  Violent images penetrating our minds can desensitize us to real-life brutality and numb us to people and their needs.  We’ve also become a very selfish people.  Look at the titles of some of our current and very popular magazines; Me, Self and All About You!  Some of our most popular slogans focus on us and not on others.  Even the busyness of our daily lives can lead us to ignore and maybe not even recognize needs of others.  With the introduction of the Internet, we can buy groceries, pay bills, keep in touch with family and friends (maybe even have your own blog – lol), or send e-cards.  While this really is a help to us, does it take us further and further away from relationships and one on one mentoring, which may cause us to lose the ability to connect with others face to face?  Is there such a thing as a detached, impersonal and indifferent “Christian”? 

“In a fast-food culture”, a wise Benedictine monk observed, “you have to remind yourself that some things cannot be done quickly.”  Simply put—–KINDNESS TAKES TIME!  In Luke 16:19-25, the Bible talks of someone who was insensitive and cold hearted, the rich man who had it all – fine clothes and luxury.  A beggar named Lazarus, starving and covered in sores, was lying by the rich man’s gate.  All Lazarus wanted from the rich man was the food or crumbs that fell from his table.  But the rich man chose to ignore Lazarus and his needs.  Later, both men died.  The rich man, now in hell, looked up and saw Lazarus by Abraham’s side in heaven and begged Lazarus to have mercy on him and dip his finger in water and cool his tongue.  But Abraham replied, “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony” (Luke 16:25)  The rich man’s heart was not moved with pity, even though he could see and hear the beggar who was at his gate every day.  How many times do we move past people and situations that are crying out for our attention and help.  The perfect opportunities to be the hands and feet of Christ fly past us, and once they are gone, we can never have them back.  When Jesus encountered insensitivity to people’s needs, he became angry!  It is not only my heart’s cry that I become more like Christ, but that I never anger Christ with selfishness and personal insensitivity.

Published in: on April 16, 2008 at 9:01 pm  Comments (6)  

It is a sin to be good?

The possibility that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just—-Abraham Lincoln
It is a sin to be good—if God has called us to be GREAT!
Christians refer to Matthew 28:18-20 as the GREAT Commission, not the Good Commission.  Jesus himself said that the words we read in Matthew 22:37 and 39 are the Great Commandments, not the Good Commandments.  And the Apostle Paul did not call love something that is good; instead he said “the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13:13).  GOOD IS THE ENEMY OF GREAT!!!
There are a lot of good churches, good christians, and good people out there in the world—but how many GREAT churches, GREAT christians and GREAT people do you know of??
There was a study done by a man named Thom S. Rainer.  He and many other researchers studied thousands and thousands of churches and their leadership to determine what makes a good church, braekout and become a GREAT church.  A lot of the principles they found to be true, not only can be used to become a great church, but to become a great leader, and a great christian!  They found a process that all of these churches went through.  If you’re no longer satisifed with living mediocre, or believe that God can and intends to use your life for great things, then I think this Bible study will help you not only make the choice to begin aiming in that direction, but will also help you come to an understanding of what things will need to change in your life to accomplish this.  There are many areas in my life in which I would love to “Break Out!”  I’m ready to start yesterday!  I’m ready to become Great for God, not just good.  Good is OK-but isn’t great better?  I remember when our church ran a christian school through the A.C.E. program.  We had a little saying we would do in opening excercises – something we tried to drill into the heads of those young students.  It went like this:
Good, better, best.  We’ll never rest, until our good is better and our better is best!!!
Now if we want our children to understand this principle, then why have we settled for less—just because it appears to be good?  Tough stuff, huh? 
In this study, the desire of the research was to identify as clearly as possible, the events, patterns, plans, strategies, crises, and other factors that took place when a church made the transition to greatness.  Now even though this particular study was done on churches that “broke out”, this process was initiated by individual leaders, which means that if you want to breakout in your own personal life, no matter what aspect or facet, you CAN DO IT!  Learn from what this study found.  These are principles that can be used by every christian leader.  I know, some of you are saying–“but I’m not a leader!”.  YES YOU ARE!  If you are a Christian, you are a born again leader.  It’s true, there are leaders and followers, but every Christian should be trying to lead someone—–to Jesus!.  So, yes, in at least one way, you are a leader!  Why not be the best at it.
If you want to breakout in your own personal life, then you will want to follow this study closely.  The researchers found that every great breakout leader followed this same pattern–and it began with the ABC moment.  The A- represents an “awareness” that something was just not quite right.  It may have seemed OK, but it felt like things were not exactly to the fullest, where God intended them to be.  The B – represented the  “belief” stage.  This takes place when the person is willing to seek out and confront the brutal facts about his/her inadequacies.  And thirdly, the C represents the “crisis” that ensues in that person’s heart because of this gap.  It will typically lead that person/leader to seek help, to do a deep self-evaluation, or to begin a fast, or DO something—anything, that will promote a great change!
We, my husband and I, have recently begun a 21 day Daniel Fast, because we have come to this ABC place.  We are totally aware that God not only wants, but needs to do something great in our lives.  It has always be His intention and plan, but somewhere along the way, we began to slowly settle in for a little bit less.  At first, I didn’t even take notice.  I personally began to fill my life with work and things that aren’t bad by any means, but neither are they expedient.  Some of these things were even necessary, but even in the necessary things, we can find the time to be great!  Great in our desire to allow anything and everything about our lives and lifestyles to bring God not only good glory, but GREAT glory!  We were called out, and chosen to do GREAT things for God.  I’m tired of settling in for just being good.  That sounds so odd, because most people just want to be thought of by their friends and family as being a good friend, a good mom or dad, a good christian, a good worker, or just an overall a good person.  But I don’t—not any more.  I’m tired of just being good—I want to be GREAT!  Have your ABC moment and come follow me in the footsteps of other great men and women of God.  Let’s pursue GREATNESS together for the glory of God!
Published in: Uncategorized on March 28, 2008 at 3:06 am  Leave a Comment  

WE’RE ALL TOGETHER IN THIS

WE’RE ALL TOGETHER IN THIS – OUR FAILURES, HEARTACHES, AND STRUGGLES
Sometimes life is hard.  We all know how to look good on the outside, even when things are crumbling on the inside.  For a time, we can appear to have everything under control.  The majority of the people we encounter each day, see only a tiny slice of our lives, and we can make that slice look great.  Our marriage, our children, our career, and even our wardrobe can appear polished and well managed from a distance.  But we dare not let anyone look too closely.  Perhaps you can relate to Jenny’s story. . . . . . . .
   Jenny fought back tears as she sat alone in the church pew and scanned the familiar faces around her.  She knew that comparing herself to others was dangerous, but she coundn’t help wondering if others ever experienced the same hollow, restless felling that gnawed at her.  As she looked around, her attention was drawn to the women in church.  She coundn’t imagine that Sarah, sitting a few rows in front of her, had ever had a bad day.  With her bright smile, Sarah brought warmth to any setting and always greeted everyone cheerfully.  Looking at Sarah, it would be hard to believe her third child was only six weeks old.  She seemed to have the energy of a teenager and the figure to match!  How can life be so effortless for people like Sarah?
Across the aisle, Jenny observed Karen sitting close to her husband in their usual spot.  He had his arm around her – as if to say, “I’m so proud of my beautiful wife!”  Jenny wondered what it would be like to have a husband who shared her newfound faith.  She pictured families like Karen’s huddled in the living room as they prayed and read Bible stories together.  Jenny found it hard to believe that Karen ever felt the deep loneliness that she felt on a daily basis.
Then there was Claire – the Sunday School teacher for Jenny’s 4 year old daughter.  Jenny thought she had sensed a look of disapproval this morning when she tried to drop her daughter off for class and experienced the weekly ritual of her trying to break the death grip her 4 year old had on her right thigh.  It was hard to imagine one of Claire’s teenage boys causing that kind of a scene.  Claire had been the model stay-at-home mother while Jenny’s job required her to leave her children in daycare 3 days a week.  Jenny sense that behind Claire’s warm greeting this morning, there might have been some unspoken advice on how Jenny might improve her parenting skills!
These were Jenny’s perceptions on that particular Sunday morning.  She saw only a sliver of the lives of these people all dressed up in their Sunday best.  And her observations were full of assumptions.  Her ideas about the lives of others were filtered through her own desires and insecurities.  But if she could only spend more time with them, she would know that they struggle too—-in some ways that would shock her.  But busyness, pride, and fear keep Jenny from really getting to know the other women. 
What would happen if we all dropped our masks.  What if Jenny and her fellow parishioners could see each other when they weren’t at their best?  What if Jenny knew that the effervescent Sarah was trying desperately to hold her marriage together and her enviable figure was not the result of self-discipline, but rather stress-related health problems?  And what if Jenny could follow Karen and her prince charming home this afternoon, only to hear the screaming and the anger in their voices because of the pile of bills on the counter that they had no idea what they were going to do with.  What if Jenny finally realized that even Christians fall on hard times and struggle in their relationships because of things they can’t even control.  What a difference it would make if Jenny knew that Claire actually admired Jenny’s commitment and resolve to bring her children to church each week while managing her home and career all alone.  In fact, now that Claire has teenagers, she longs for the uncomplicated days when her children were young.
Life is really much the same for each of these women.  The circumstances and details of their problems may be different, but they share similar challenges, disappointments, heartaches, and failures.  And if they only knew how alike they really were, they could support one another and learn form one another. 
Over the next few weeks, I would like to challenge you and teach you how to cope with the struggles and know that we all struggle.  We all are in this together and the more we allow ourselves to share with other women, the more support, understanding and clarity we can have in our own situations.  We truly need the nurturing, mentoring and guidance, not only from older women in age, but those who have experienced life.  Those who have been there and done that – and have more than a T-shirt to show for it!  Sometimes I have women tell me how much they appreciate something I’ve done or something I’ve shared with them, and I think back to that particular circumstance and most of the time all I did was listen.  We need to learn to open up and share with one another – daily – so that those who are strong can bear up the infirmaties of the weaker.  We all have scars and callouses – different places – but constant reminders of where we have been.  Help someone else stay out of that pit, that mire, that trap.  Share your life – Share the life of Christ – Share the life giving blood that was shed so many years ago, for you, for me, for everyone!  Until next time, find a special someone to begin sharing with!
Valerie
Published in: Uncategorized on March 28, 2008 at 3:02 am  Leave a Comment  

Love, The worlds view-God’s view

 

Titus 2:4 is a wonderful verse of scripture, which admonishes older owmen to teach younger women to love their husbands.  Now, in the early years, I never sought out an older woman of the church to teach me anything about my husband.  I guess I never really considered loving my husband a skill that could be taught.  But the more and more I look around me, I see that apparently it is a learned behavior and that many are learning how NOT to love their husbands from other women who don’t even profess to be teachers!!!  But, none the less, we have tendencies to replicate actions we see portrayed around us, and a lot of times the actual atmosphere we spend a lot of time in, will shape and mold us even if we don’t realize it. 
So, what is love?  What does it mean to love someone else?  Our culture would lead us to believe that love is all about feelings and emotions. Movies, television, music and books depict the love between a man and a woman as uncontrolled physical passion.  The world says such love is “bigger than both of us,” a force that carries us away.  We’re taught that we “fall in love,” which is something we can’t control.  Well, that theory in itself sets us up for failure.  Because if you can’t help but fall in love, wouldn’t that mean you coudln’t help “falling out of love?”  Well according to Scripture, love is 2 things:
Love is sacrificial – the greatest example of love is God sacrificing His Son, Jesus Christ, that we might have our sins forgiven and our lives redeemed.
Secondly, Love is unconditional.  This kind of love is not based on peformance, and it does not diminish when we fail.    These might be totally foreign concepts to you, In fact, it may even seem impossible for you obtain love at these levels.  Right?  WRONG!!!  When we allow the Spirit to empower us, we are capable of loving our husbands with the love of Christ—-sacrificially and unconditionally. 
                     A wife is God’s gift—a rare and precious offering to her husband.  She conveys the Lord’s love and care for that man.  In this day of pressure, demand and expectation, we need to realize that marriage is more than just one human living with another.  It’s something sacred.  I bring a bit of God into my husband’s life.  This elevates me from my position as family – car controller, chore keeper and laundry sorter to a position of prestige and extreme importance and contribution.  I am something holy, given to a specific man—my husband.
To totally understand what it means to love our husbands sacrificially and unconditionally, let’s look at what love is NOT!!
Myth:  Love is all about feelings
Reality:  Love is all about commitment and action.  Feelings fluctuate along with our moods.  Love acted out is steady and consistent, not like a roller coaster.
Myth:  For two people meant to be together, love will come naturally and easily.
Reality:  Even under the best of circumstances, love takes work.  Because true love is based on action and commitment, it doesn’t flourish by itself.  Love will not automatically increase in amount and intensity as the days and years pass.  Therefore, the expression of love is something that we have to learn and work at! 
Myth:  Love means everything in marriage will be fifty-fifty and totally equal.
Reality:  Love means giving 100 percent, even when it feels unfair.
Throw out your scorecard and forget the idea that your husband should meet you halfway in everything.  Married love means giving 100% regardless of what your husband is giving.  Sound unfair?  From our human perspective, it is.  But remember; “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).  He gave His all, though we deserved nothing.  We can’t do any less in loving our mate.  We must forgive and love over and over.  Will this be easy?  No.  Will we ever get tired of being the giver?  Yes.  Will we sometimes want to throw in the towel?  Probably!  However, the closer our relationship with God, the easier it will be for us to love unconditionally and sacrificially. 
Looking at what I just covered, what are some specific ways we can “learn” to cultivate love in our marriages?
1)  Study your husband.  Make a list of his strengths and weaknesses.Tear the list of weaknesses into little pieces and throw them away.  Review the list of strengths and each week, focus on a different one.  That way you will begin to notice through out each day and week, how strong your husband is in different areas, and it will cause you to appreciate him for this.  Give him compliments each day.  Remember, he’s not perfect, but you love him.
2)  Listen to him.  Most women are good at multi-tasking.  But this is one time, when you need to focus and not be doing 10 things at once.  Stop what you’re doing.  Make eye contact.  Ask questions and encourage him to tell you more. 
3)  Commit to a mutually fulfilling sexual relationship.  Learn what your husband enjoys, communicate your desires, and make time to be alone together!  Be creative – be daring.  Above all else, be willing to change yourself.  As you improve, so will he!
4)  Pray for your husband.  Pray every day that God would bring people and events into his life that would open his heart to the gospel, and increase him physically, spiritually and emotionally.
Over time, we can unconsciously take our husband and marriage for granted.  We don’t pay as much attention to cultivating our relationship as we once did.  We become comfortable or we can unwittingly develop individual lives.  Then,  try to find an older woman, or someone whom you respect and can look up to, and talk to them and ask for their input.  And if you might happen to be that older, mature woman already, then you maybe you need to make sure you present yourself to others as someone who is loving and open to share what you have learned.    We all need teachers.  We all need each other.  Ladies, we’re in this together!

Published in: on March 27, 2008 at 4:31 pm  Comments (1)  
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