Tag Archives: marriage

Up in Arms…My Valentine

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I was given the chance to write an article over a less known person in the Bible who had affected me in a great way.  The purpose of the article was to encourage teens to always be searching the scriptures, because you never know when that certain one will  speak into your heart and soul causing a chance to grow as a Christian.   My moment came to my head the very minute I finished reading the assignment.  All of the feelings I felt the day I heard it came flooding back into my heart.  I opened up my Bible to the passage and re-read the account again, refreshing the feeling I felt that day.  I told my editor that I have always wanted to write about that account and now that I have written it for the teen audience, I simply had to turn around and write it again for my adult readers.  So…here it goes…

Jake and I were sitting in the Little Chapel at Camp Pettijohn amongst friends and teen campers listening to a lesson over how the Lord was always in the forefront fighting for us so that we may finish strong, and overcome fear in adversity.  The lesson was over 1 Samuel 13 & 14.  King Saul had gotten into it with the Philistines, and sent his son Jonathan to attack an outpost of theirs.  Once the Philistines heard of this, they assembled a massive army to bring Israel down.  This movement really did a number on the minds of the Israelites because many of them ran and hid in caves, thickets, and in between rocks.  The Philistine army had a severe advantage as far as the mental part of warfare is concerned.  The Israelites had virtually nothing to fight with.  The Philistines had made sure that there was not a black smith to be found so the people of Israel would not be able to have weapons made.  They had plowshares, mattocks, axes, and sickles to fight and defend themselves with.

Saul got pretty antsy waiting on the proper channels to go through, one being the most important of all.  A very special sacrifice to the LORD so that he would have favor over the very lopsided battle.  Saul, in haste, decided to sacrifice the offering without the High Priest Samuel, which was a HUGE no no because only the priest had the authority from God to perform these things.  Samuel found out about the sacrifice and was furious.  Because of Saul’s haste, the LORD turned his back on the kingship of Saul and began to prepare a certain young man, a man after His own heart, to lead the people of Israel.

After hearing this fact, Saul still remained, under a Pomegranate tree, taking in the shade, still raring to go with a small army of pretty much farmers with pitchforks.  His son Jonathan got restless with his dad, and decided to take matters into his own hands.  He and his armor bearer went over to spy on a garrison of Philistines so they could attack them.  Jonathan says in chapter fourteen verse six,

“Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows.  Perhaps the LORD will act on our behalf.  Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few.”

Jonathan had a greater understanding of that of his father for the LORD and His power.  He knew that the LORD did not need strategy, more men, or more weapons to fight the battle, He just wanted willing souls to believe in His power, and be the instruments of which to carry the power out.

After Johnathan made his case, his armor bearer said back to him in verse seven,

“Do all that you have in mind, Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”

The very moment upon hearing the armor bearers words, I was completely overwhelmed by the statement of sheer devotion, protection, and loyalty from the armor bearer.  Floods of memories came flying into my mind of all of the crazy adventures and mishaps Jake and I have come across and how we stayed true to each other through each of them.  I grabbed Jake’s hand and squeezed it, and with a big fat lump in my throat I leaned into his ear and said, “I will always be your armor bearer.”  He turned and looked at me funny and laughed, knowing I was having one of my overly sensitive moments…probably judging by the slight glistening in my eyes.  He, of course, had no idea the emotion or motive behind it, but it got to me that day, and has stuck with me ever since.

Picture the situation!  The Israelite army was outnumbered fiercely by man power and weaponry.  The philistines had chariots, horsemen, and soldiers as numerous of sand on the sea shore.   This was seriously like throwing Black Cat fireworks at an army tanker!  The armor bearer could have said, “Dude!  You are completely crazy and there is no way I am going to just march up to that garrison with nothing but a sword because you think that maybe the LORD may or may not be fighting on our behalf!”  The armor bearer had faith in Jonathan, faith in Jonathan’s ability to lead, and faith in the God that leads us all.

Jonathan got his sign from the LORD that He would be on their side and the two men prepared for the attack.  Imagine the armor bearer stripping off all of the armor he was carrying for Jonathan.  He took off the breastplate to arm Jonathan’s heart, the shield that would protect his body, the helmet that would protect his mind, and then fit him with his sword, the very thing that would help defend them both.  This more than likely left the armor bearer with nothing more than a sword of his own, because the whole duty of the armor bearer was to carry the very heavy armor load.

Jonathan climbed up, his armor bearer right behind him and began the attack.  With one swoop, they were able to kill off twenty men in a half acre area.  This caused panic in the camp, Saul’s army joined in with great momentum, and the Philistine army was defeated!  Whoo!

Now, back to the armor bearer.  This is what I learned that day.  I want to have the devotion of the armor bearer.   I want to be able to dive in, heart and soul with Jake, no matter how crazy of an idea he has, knowing that his heart is searching for God’s will (like packing up and moving to OKC right after his tour in Egypt because while there, he got the crazy idea to become a minister).  I wanted to be confident enough in my husband’s ability to lead our family that I never have to ask questions about his intentions.

I will protect my husband, and fit him with the armor he needs to fight the spiritual battle on behalf of himself, his family, and the congregation in which he serves.  I will support my husband, and trust that the decisions he makes will take us to a place of service and a place of refuge because he seeks the LORD’s will.  I trust in God’s provisions, therefore I will trust in my husbands.   And finally I will help bear the load.

You see, you really can find inspiration in the smallest of things.  I found a charge to be my husband’s armor bearer in a cloud of sweaty, smelly campers and a lesson over facing fears! I charge all of you with spouses to really dig deeper into the meaning of the armor bearer’s statement and find a charge of your own.  The loyalty, devotion, and protection shown by the armor bearer gave Jonathan just what he needed to fight.  Their trust in God, and trust in each other moved mountains that day.  Just think of the mountains we all as Christian couples can move if we put our faith in God, and our complete support in each other.

…Jake, I couldn’t fit all of this on a card, but happy Valentine’s Day.  I love you so much and will always…always be your armor bearer.  

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Restoring Relationships

Restoring a broken relationship is one of the most difficult things we go through.  As humans, we struggle daily with selfishness and putting others first.  This inner battle seems to rage at insane levels when we feel hurt, misused, or underappreciated.  In the heat of the moment we blast others with painful looks, paralyzing comments, and hurtful actions.  As Christians, we are called to put such things behind us, and strive to place God first, and others second in this life that we live.  We tend to throw these values out of the window when a relationship is threatened and we feel the need to bow up and stand our ground.  Some have mastered the technique of proper ways to handle confrontation, and handle issues with grace and humility.  For others, like me, we say things we shouldn’t, or give looks we shouldn’t give, and a relationship suffers because of it. How do we mend the hurt we have caused while we work at bettering our attitudes during confrontations?  Listed below, are some wonderful tips I came across several years ago that are excellent ways to mend relationships that have felt the wrath of our selfish ways.

Talk to God before you approach

James 4:1-4 talks about the pride of a person and the strife they cause because of their own desires.  At the end of verse 4, it is written “you do not have, because you do not ask.”  If we want self control to resolve the conflict, we must ask of it through prayer.  We must ask for forgiveness for hurting our fellow Christian, and ask for the wisdom and patience to resolve the conflict.  Prayer is a calming conversation with our Creator.  Take pleasure in knowing that he knows you best and that after lying your burdens down at His feet, He will guide you on to the next step of resolution.

Take the initiative

After tempers have settled through prayers for control, we must take it upon ourselves to mend the conflict.  Job 5:2 states “Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple.”  Take the initiative and set aside any resentment or envy as to clear your heart from these emotions that block our view to peace.

Sympathize with their feelings

“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4  This truth will be able to keep us out of most conflicts if we practice it.  If in a conflict, listen to the others feelings of hurt and relate to what they are going through.  We can’t understand the pain we have caused if we do not listen to the one who has been offended.  Listen with an open heart and an open mind, so you both can move on to healing.

Confess your part of the conflict

1 John 1:8 states, “ If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”  This is the hardest part, admitting our wrongs.   I had rather jump off into an icy cold pond than admit I am wrong at times.  Being in the wrong hurts, it hurts our pride, and it hurts our very being.  It makes us feel inadequate and not in control.  Confession frees us of any guilt associated with the wrong and heals the heart of the brother or sister that has been offended.  It also heals and humbles our hearts as the offender.

Attack the problem, not the person

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1  We all too often put a face to the problem, and that face is often the person who has offended us.  We have heard the expression, “hate the sin, not the sinner” and this little saying should be at the forefront of our minds when we are hurt.  If we attack the person and not the problem, we are fighting against any type of constructive resolution.

Cooperate as much as possible

Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  Some problems we find ourselves in are just devastating and difficult, no matter how we look at it.  Using the tips mentioned above is a great way to keep yourself from being angry without sin, but the same may not be true for the other party involved.  They may not hold to these standards of living and that can make reconciliation tough.   We must posses the wisdom and love to keep our heads on straight, even if the other person is flying off the handle.  Do what you can in love, and brace yourself for any unforeseen issues that may develop while trying to resolve issues.

These tips are wonderful ways to keep our cool when we find ourselves in difficult situations.  Resolving conflicts is all about the relationship you are trying to restore.  We must emphasize the fact that we are looking for reconciliation with the person first, and a resolution to the problem second.   Reflect on God’s instructions as to how we are to treat others and when in a difficult situation, go to his word, and adhere to the tips stated above from scripture to live at peace with others, and with ourselves.

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Here Comes the Bride

It is wedding season so to speak, and I have been a busy photographer.  I always enjoy shooting a wedding, although it can get crazy at times. I love photographing the moments in between poses that really capture the true sense of the day.  I love to see the father-of-the-bride grab his weeping wife’s hand as the vows are recited between their daughter and future son-in-law.  I love the prayer on behalf of the couple asking for blessings and guidance, and I enjoy the mischief the flower girl and ring-barer get into while patiently waiting for the wedding ceremony to end.  Among all of these things though, my very favorite part is when the father gives his daughter away.  I believe this is the most important part.  It symbolizes a new path, a new life, and a fresh start.  It whispers a sense of leaving the old self behind, and dedicating it to another, dedicating it so strongly that the previous relationship should be left behind, and be but a memory of where you once were.

This moment in time reminds me of when we, as Christians, dedicate ourselves to the Lord through baptism, and become joined with him as his bride adorned in white.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but she should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:25-27 NKJV)

When a father gives his daughter’s hand into the one who will be her husband, this change takes place.  She, the bride leaves her former life, and dedicates it to her husband.  Just as we, leave our former life, and dedicate it to the Lord.  The husband is to love his wife, and through his care and protection, keep her pure and unblemished from the world that surrounds their marriage.  In the same way, Christ accepts our hand, and loves us as well.  He places us under his wing, under his sacrifice, and presents us holy unto the Lord God.

The moment the bride is given away also reminds me of the passage stated later on in Ephesians, chapter 5, verse 31,

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

For some, this is a difficult thing.  The bride and/or the groom may be so attached to their parents, that this imperative separation never takes place.  Unfortunately, if the bonds between child and parent are still running deeper than the bonds in the child’s marriage, the marriage is in dire risk of failure.  God commands that we, as a married couple, are to cut the delicate ties between our parents and us and create an even stronger bond with our mates.  In the same way, when we become a bride of Christ, we are to “put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” (Ephesians 4:22)  Our souls before Christ were blemished and impure, and that former lifestyle has no room in our new bond with our Savior.  Just as the bride and groom decide to leave their parents as they join together, we too, must do the same when it comes to our new walk with Christ.

Weddings are such and awesome parallel to our union with Christ.  Paul calls this union between us and Christ the “great mystery”, and beautifully paints this picture of a bride and a groom joining together in Ephesians 5.  Witnessing this union several times a year constantly reminds me of the vow I made to Christ, as well as the vow I made to my husband.  We should all take the time to reflect on when we became a bride of Christ, and meditate on the promise of a new life that we made with him.  Are we still presenting ourselves holy and without blemish?  Are we cleaving to our Lord and keeping our former lusts out of the union?  Are we still submitting to his will and his protection?  I encourage each of us today to dwell on these things as we continue on in our very special relationship with our Lord and Savior.

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Go Ahead! Flirt a Little…

“Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes that have come up from the washing, all of which bear twins, and not one among them has lost its young.”  Song of Solomon 4:2

Ok, so this is the wall post that graced my Facebook page the other day.  Most people looked at it and thought it was crazy,  but when I read it, I blushed, and felt beautiful.  My husband decided to “artistically” tell me that he though my smile was beautiful using a verse from Songs of Solomon.  I was intrigued by his romantic gesture, and returned a grand gesture myself using a verse from the Songs as well.

When he got home that day, I was on top of the world, feeling like a “woman” and basking in the compliments sent my way.  He grabbed me and gave me a hello kiss which caused our girls to go running off screaming “Ewwwwww!”  While walking down the hall, I overheard Rylee tell Kadence, “Aww, they are in Looove.”  It made me smile  and think to myself I am glad they can see it.

As parents, we get caught up in the chaos surrounding our marriage.  We have jobs to do and things to fix, kids to be fed, and pants to iron.  So many of us feel as if we are but ships passing in the night, and rarely take the time to show affection during these times.  I am pretty guilty of this.  I just forget to give my husband a quick kiss when he comes home, or give him that “wink” across the dining room table.

I remember feeling so secure as a child when I caught my dad stealing a quick kiss from my mom, and I want my children to feel this same security.  Our children need to see the love that we as spouses feel about the other.  This gives our children a loving environment, and gives them a sense of comfort and belonging.  When my husband tells the kids that their Momma is beautiful, their reaction to his compliment is almost the same reaction as mine.  A feeling of flattery and belonging.

So go ahead, flirt a little in front of the kids, steal a kiss, give a compliment, give a hug, pick a flower, cuddle on the couch.  Show your children how a married couple are to behave with one another appropriately, and give your spouse, and your kids the comfort and belonging that comes from these signs of love and affection.

‎”Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death….Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the flood drown it.”  Song of Solomon 8:7

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Do Not Grow Weary

As a mom, I perform many day to day tasks that seem unending and mundane.  I always have laundry to fold, dishes to be washed, floors to clean, mouths to feed, and places to go.  Most of the time, when the cleaning and upkeep tasks are being done, I find myself grumbling most of the time wishing we had a maid so I could get on to more “important” things.  As I sit here now, I have a full sink of dishes and a kitchen floor that desperately needs to be swept, and a few hours later, I will have to sweep it again.  My role as a wife and mother have many many benefits, but some of the duties I must perform seem to have none.

2 Thessalonians chapter 3 verses 6-15 speak about the dangers of idleness, and how we are to toil and labor for everything that we are able to call ours.  I believe that in this passage, Paul is encouraging us to find the purpose and value in the day to day tasks that we all perform and by doing so, set an example to others around us.  As  Christians, If we slack on the work that needs to be done whether it be in the home, or in the workplace, we are in danger of setting a bad example to our family and co- workers.  We are all called to a higher purpose in everything that we do, and our Christian character can always be evident if we put forth every effort to show our dedication and willingness to serve. As a mom, if I allow someone else to perform the duties that are my responsibility in the home, I am missing out on an opportunity to serve my family and be blessed for that service.  I am also missing out on the opportunity to show my children that when I tend to the needs of others, in the form of cooking, and cleaning, and mending, I am tending to the needs of my Lord.  Likewise, if those of you in the workplace do not give 100 percent to your jobs, you are missing out on an opportunity of service, and setting a bad example to others around you.

I believe that Paul understood the tasks that we perform can seem to overload us all at times.  In verse 13 it states, “As for you brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.” In the passage before this, Paul says, “…we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.”   As you set out to perform the tasks that you must do today to make your living, or serve your family, remember that we are doing what the Lord commands us to do, and in doing so we are providing for our families and setting an example to those who see us work diligently, and quietly.  I can honestly say that I am not jumping out of my seat right now to fold the massive pile of laundry on the floor, but I can say that I will do it in service to my family and in service to the Lord.  When I put tasks such as these in that kind of perspective, it makes the tasks just a bit more bearable, and helps me to be a little less weary.

 

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Peace and Order

As most married couples, our marriage started out as two people coming together with totally different backgrounds.  I was from a free flowing home, messy, but comforting.  My childhood home was clean, but we usually had pillows thrown off the couch and toys lying around.  My husband came from a tidy home, everything had its place, and the order of the home was a comfort.  You didn’t dare mess up the floor rug, and he had to dust his room every Saturday before he could play.  This caused some interesting conflicts that are still spilling over into our marriage today.

I leave dried toothpaste in the sink, and my shoes are in a big pile in the closet; I hang my bras on the bathroom doorknob.  I stuff the garbage sack so full of junk, that it is almost impossible to get it out of the garbage can.  My husband, on the other hand, has his whole life organized and in sync with his IPhone and Mac Book.  His bathroom counter has all of his medicines, hair products, and shaving tools all in their proper order.  His shoes are neatly placed on a shoe rack, and his office library is organized and grouped by various topics.  In this aspect of our lives, we are like night and day and we have been spending the past eight years of our marriage trying to find a balance between our differences to make a comfortable home for our children, and ourselves.  I found peace in a home that looked like it had been lived in; he found peace in a home that seemed spotless.

It is so funny to look back on the things we did to ourselves to try to make the other happy.  I would wear myself out trying to keep our home the way his mother kept hers, and he would try so hard to not let the toys strewn all over the place and dirty dishes in the sink get to him.  Neither one of us could relax in the environment we created.  Our different upbringings were causing us to experience arguments, issues, and stress that should have never occurred.  To him, I was a mess, to me, he was too uptight. Somehow, through communication, prayer, and understanding, we tore down the walls that defined peace and order in the home through our different childhood upbringings, and we found peace and order in each other.

Throughout the course of our union, we have rubbed off on each other.  He leaves his shoes and empty cups lying around the house, which makes me smile because it leaves me reminders of him in our home.  Our closets and drawers are organized, well, except for my shoes, and I keep our home in order, which allows him to relax after coming home from work.   My husband still cringes when I leave toothpaste in the sink, and I still roll my eyes at the way he insists on having his lotion facing sideways.  But, through all of this, we made a home together.  Our home is defined by our love, our commitment to each other and to the Lord, and by the individual traits we have put into it to make it work.  We have created our own environment in which our marriage and family can thrive.  Our children are being raised in a Godly home where we all influence each other through love to create a warm, inviting home full of laughter, love, peace, and order.

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